While corporate media have framed the recent massacre of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier as presenting problems with the war strategy and as a PR problem, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed today their joint view that the war on Afghanistan must go on.
CNN reports that
Both Obama and Cameron referred to the difficulties of recent days, a clear reference to the civilian killings in Kandahar province that brought threats of retaliation from the Taliban and a demand for justice from President Hamid Karzai's government.
The Hill reports on the press conference today in which both leaders expressed their continued war plans:
“I don’t anticipate at this stage that we’ll make any sudden additional changes to the plan that we currently have,” Obama said in a Rose Garden news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron that took place as part of an official visit.
“We’ve already taken out 10,000 troops, and we’re slated to draw down an additional 23,000 by this summer,” Obama continued. “There will be a robust coalition presence during this fighting season, and after the fighting season, in conjunction with our allies ... [we’ll discuss] how to make sure [the drawdown] doesn’t result in a steep cliff after 2014, but rather is gradual.” [...]
While Obama said there will be “multiple challenges” along the way, and that the United States “can’t be naïve about the difficulties of withdrawing from the region,” he added: “If we maintain a steady, responsible transition process, which is what we’ve designed, then I am confident that we can put Afghans in a position where they can deal with their own security.”
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Cameron, who stood beside Obama on the warm March afternoon, reaffirmed his support, saying, “We will not give up on this mission, because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for al Qaeda to launch attacks against us.”
CNN has video of the Cameron and Obama speaking about Afghanistan at the conference today:
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Kathy Kelly remarked on Democracy Now! on the recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan by a U.S. soldier:
“President Obama and U.S. military brass are depicting a U.S. soldier killing 16 Afghan civilians as an exceptional event. But in fact, this tragedy reflects and encapsulates the U.S. war of choice in Afghanistan. Groups of U.S. soldiers have been breaking into Afghan homes and killing people, without cause or provocation, for the last 11 years. Civilians have been afflicted by aerial bombing by helicopter gunships, drone surveillance and attacks, and night raids.
“In the recent past, Afghan civilians have been appalled and agitated by news of U.S. soldiers that went on killing sprees, cutting off body parts of their victims to save as war trophies. They’ve been repulsed by photos of U.S. soldiers urinating on the corpses of Afghans whom they have killed. The burning of the Quran further enraged civilians. One of the greatest factors contributing to public dismay and hostility towards the foreign forces is the practice of night raids. As many as 40 of these raids happen around the country on some nights, and the U.S. military reports an average of 10 a night. U.S. /NATO soldiers burst into people’s homes and attack people in their sleep.