Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A Complete US Withdrawal from Afghanistan? Bring... It... On

Obama orders Pentagon to draw up plans for 'zero option'... and that's a good thing, say those opposed to endless occupation

Jon Queally

Despite repeated statements from the Obama administration that its preferred planned is for a large residual military force and operations footprint inside Afghanistan that extends well beyond 2014, the president formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to draw up plans for a full and complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of the year—the so-called 'zero option.'

Though treated like a threat and something that would be terrible for both U.S. interests and the Afghan people by many in the Washington establishment, the reality is that preparations for a coordinated and full withdrawal is exactly what the global anti-war movement and those who support Afghan sovereignty have been calling for since the country was first invaded by the U.S. and NATO more than a dozen years ago.

Obama's move was leaked to the press following a phone call between Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier on Tuesday in which the two leaders discussed the ongoing reluctance of Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) put forth by the White House.

Karzai has repeatedly rebuffed pressure from the US and NATO to sign the BSA, saying he wants to wait until after upcoming presidential elections in the country before committing to additional years of having foreign troops in the country, maintaining bases, and launching military operations within and across its borders.

As the Guardian reports:

Preparations for a withdrawal from Afghanistan are complicated by the fact that the use of air bases there are not solely focused on waging war. Bases like Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the east are also platforms for flying surveillance and armed drones into neighboring Pakistan, and surveillance drones have also likely flown from Kandahar into Iran.

Losing access to Afghan air bases may likely prompt the US to look for alternative regional launchpads in central Asian states, an uncertain prospect complicated by their dismal human rights records. In 2005, Uzbekistan revoked US access to its Karshi-Khanabad air base following a diplomatic row over a bloody crackdown that May in Andijan province.

The Pentagon did not comment on any airbase negotiations, but a spokeswoman, Navy commander Elissa Smith, said “regardless of the outcome of the BSA, the United States will take the steps necessary to combat terrorism and protect our interests”.

According to foreign policy analyst Phyllis Bennis, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, the focus on U.S. interests in repeated statements by Pentagon officials and Obama himself reveals how shallow the rhetoric has been when the U.S. tries to say that the continued presence of U.S. troops is for the good of the Afghan people.

While rejecting Obama's argument that keeping troops in Afghanistan will somehow keep Americans more safe from future terrorist attacks, Bennis supports the idea of a full and complete U.S. withdrawal. As she wrote recently:

The best way to prevent attacks on the U.S. is precisely to get all U.S. troops — all, not most — out of Afghanistan. The “Zero Option,” the full withdrawal the United States dreads and the inevitable result if the Afghan government, like its Iraqi counterpart, refuses to grant immunity to U.S. troops for any crimes they might commit, is in fact the best way to both help Afghanistan’s people reclaim their country on their own terms, and reduce the threat of attacks on the United States.

________________________________________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo