President Obama said he would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in 2011. Now, the Administration says 2011 is still in play, but has begun floating the year 2014 as a more "reasonable" date for the war's end.
One Congressional Democrat is not happy.
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) blasted President Barack Obama Wednesday over reports that he is planning to de-emphasize the July 2011 deadline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
"When the new 112th Congress convenes in January, I will immediately enter a privileged resolution that will force Congress to vote on setting a withdrawal date," Kucinich said. "The withdrawal of our troops must be driven by Congress, not the corrupt president of Afghanistan."
Obama announced July 2011 as the date the United States would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan last year, after sending an additional 30,000 US troops to the region as part of his surge strategy.
Administration and military officials said Tuesday that the Obama administration has decided to de-emphasize his plans to begin withdrawing forces from Afghanistan starting July 2011.
"Expanding the timeline constitutes a de facto expansion of the war without Congressional approval," said Kucinich.
The new policy is to be unveiled at a NATO conference in Lisbon next week, where the United States and other NATO countries are set to discuss their commitment to Afghanistan. The United States hopes to introduce a plan to begin the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan by 2014, senior officials told McClatchy.
President Hamid Karzai said at a conference in the Afghan capital that Afghan forces should be able to operate independently of foreign troops and secure the country by 2014.
"The Obama Administration must withdraw our troops now," said Kucinich. "Our presence there is counterproductive, it keeps our troops in harms way and it opens to the door for the expansion of the massive corruption of the Karzai regime."
United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan, has not submitted any troop withdrawal orders for the July deadline.
"With the exception of the Dutch and Canadians, no country has said they'll leave Afghanistan," an official told CNN. "The British have said they'll end combat operations by 2014. But the strategy is designed so that, hopefully, we don't have to be in a combat situation at that time."
"The War in Afghanistan is longer than any other war America has ever fought," said Kucinich. "The war has cost U.S. taxpayers more than a trillion dollars. The death toll is rising. More than 1300 Americans have died, thousands more wounded and countless Afghan civilians have died. The civilian death toll is rising, and there are fewer than 100 Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"To top it all off," he added, "we recently learned that Karzai has openly admitted to accepting bags of cash from Iran."