A day after President Obama announced he will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas and former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden both said they disagree with an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Haas asked: “What kind of a signal does that send to the new government? What kind of a signal does that send to the Taliban and to terrorists?”
Haas and Hayden agreed decisions should be made based on “local realities” and “conditions on the ground,” respectively.
Hayden said with an arbitrary deadline, “we lose all leverage and negotiations with the new Afghan president.”
In a major foreign policy speech today at West Point, Obama pointed to the removal of troops in Iraq as a victory and said al-Qaeda threats also have been dimmed.
In an interview today, The Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner criticized Obama, saying he “did not outline any coherent, long-term strategy in terms of dealing with Afghanistan, preventing it from becoming a safe haven once again for al-Qaeda.”
Hayden took issue with Obama’s statement as well.
“Let me parse out what the president just said: ‘Before I leave office, I’m going to make Afghanistan look like Iraq,’ ” Hayden said. “Going to zero [troops] in Iraq did not lead to a happy outcome, and now he’s committed to doing the same thing in Afghanistan. … I think it’s fairly dangerous.”
“Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist asked Haas how long troops would stay in his dream scenario. Haas replied, “As long as it makes sense.”