Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 23 pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Obama administration plans to accelerate the US military drawdown in Afghanistan.
US President Barack Obama announced June 22 that a phased withdrawal of 10,000 US troops will be completed by the end of the year. Another 20,000 American soldiers are slated to depart by the end of 2012, leaving 60,000 American troops. NATO decided last November that all foreign troops should be out of Afghanistan by 2014.
For more than two hours during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Clinton and senators debated the wisdom of an accelerated drawdown.
In his opening remarks, Chairman John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, said that, by hastening the withdrawal, President Obama “kept a commitment he made to the American people.” Kerry argued that Osama bin Laden’s death last month and other developments meant that “we have met our major goals in Afghanistan” as defined by the administration.
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Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.