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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Updated)

Reaction to President Obama's Afghanistan speech.

9:37 PM, Jun 22, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Barack Obama: "Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security. We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. 'The message,' he said, 'is we don't forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.'"

UPDATE: Senator Marco Rubio just issued a good statement on the Afghanistan drawdown:

“Our ultimate goal in Afghanistan should be to give the Afghan people a chance to build a lasting viable state. This is not about nation-building for the sake of doing so. This is in our vital national interests for two reasons. First, because an unstable Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for Al Qaeda to operate from. Second, an unstable Afghanistan would become a base of operations for radical Islamic insurgents who seek to take control of Pakistan. A nuclear Pakistan in the hands of a radical Islamic government  would be a catastrophic development.

“This is a part of the world where leaders always hedge their bets. Even the slightest impression that the United States is looking to get out is devastating. It is one of the reasons why Pakistan continues to undermine our efforts to target Al Qaeda. It also discourages tribal leaders in Afghanistan from cooperating with us to defeat the Taliban, and it encourages the Taliban to keep on fighting.

“Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It is about the bigger fight against Al Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism.

“After a decade of fighting, the American people are weary of war. Facing massive unemployment and a growing national debt, they are weary of the effort’s cost. So am I. But the answer to a bad situation is not to make it worse. And I have always believed that a troop withdrawal plan based not on progress towards our ultimate goal, but rather on a desire to hit certain numbers, would be a tragic mistake.

“Yes, American troops need to leave Afghanistan, but they should do so pursuant to a plan that accomplishes our vital goal. I hope that in the days to come, the President will more clearly articulate how his troop withdrawal plan does that.”

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