In remarks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai at the White House this afternoon, President Barack Obama said the U.S. has fallen "short of the ideal" in Afghanistan:
"So, you know, I think that, have we achieved everything that some might have imagined us achieving in the best of scenarios? Probably not. You know, there's a human enterprise, and you know, you fall short of the ideal," said Obama.
The president went on to say that America has achieved some measure of success in Afghanistan, however. "Did we achieve our central goal? And have we been able, I think, to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States? We have achieved that goal. We are in the process of achieving that goal. And for that, I think we have to thank our extraordinary military, intelligence and diplomatic teams, as well as the cooperation of the Afghan government and the Afghan people."
Ben Farmer of The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports that Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s peace council is going to send a delegation to Guantanamo. The council is requesting the release of about 20 Taliban commanders and leaders held there. There is no official indication, as of yet, that the Obama administration is going to allow the council’s delegation to visit. But the Telegraph cites a “senior Afghan official” as saying that the “delegation is being sent with the cooperation of the United States.”
A cable released by WikiLeaks that is available on the New York Times’s web site underscores the difficulties that both the Bush and Obama administrations have had in transferring war on terror detainees to Afghan custody.
The tone is respectful to McChrystal, but mindful of his breach. Obama takes the opportunity to reinforce the American commitment to victory in Afghanistan rather than back away from it. And, the speech is blissfully, only eight minutes long.
W hen I returned to Washington in 1992 after a 13-year absence, I was frequently asked what changes I observed. Of course, the obvious answer was volume: Big buildings had appeared where humble shops once stood, and automobile traffic seemed considerably more congested. Crosstown excursions that had once taken 15 minutes now seemed to require three-quarters of an hour.