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US Diplomat: Troops Not Leaving Afghanistan Anytime Soon

The longest war in US history now set to last even longer as US balks on alleged 2014 deadline for withdrawal

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

United States and NATO base in southern Afghanistan in the aftermath of an attack (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe/Flickr Creative Commons)The US military is likely to stay in Afghanistan far beyond the 2014 alleged deadline for withdrawal, James Dobbins—the State Department's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan—told the Senate earlier this week.

The statement came after an article published Monday in the New York Times suggested that Obama plans to move more quickly on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US diplomat made it clear that, to the contrary, the US intends to continue its open-ended occupation. "The Afghans actually need us to stay," Dobbins alleged, according to Reuters. "Most Afghans want us to stay. And we have promised to stay."

"It is important to ask who wants the US to stay," Robert Naiman—policy director for Just Foreign Policy—told Common Dreams. "Is it Karzai, the parliament, a majority of the Afghan people? And what do they want troops to do? Detain Afghans? Carry out night raids? Conduct drone strikes?"

"As usual, helping Afghanistan is conflated with keeping thousands of troops there," Naiman added. "There's no reason those things should be conflated."

As the US-led war in Afghanistan—now the longest official war in US history—stretches through it's 12th summer, over 60,000 US troops remain, in addition to vast webs of US private contractors and US appointed Afghan military generals.

The Afghan civilian death toll remains alarmingly high, with drone attacks killing far more civilians than manned air crafts, stoking outrage across Afghanistan. Meanwhile, attacks on Afghan children are skyrocketing, the UN reports.

Over 2,000 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, with an unknown number lost to suicides and high-risk behaviors as repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan compound PTSD and other mental health problems.

Meanwhile, 'green on blue' attacks, in which members of Afghan forces kill US ones, continue across to define the US-Afghanistan relationship, signaling that resentment against the US occupation even extends to its Afghan military 'partners.'

The US has little to show for the open-ended war, with alleged 'peace talks' recently falling apart over purported Afghan objection to US negotiations with the Taliban.

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