Word from the Obama administration is that with al Qaeda spiritual leader Osama bin Laden dead, U.S. forces may now have found the fast-track to exit the Afghan occupation.
It won't be easy, and it will require more than just political capital in the U.S., but unnamed officials tell The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran that, with a negotiated settlement between America and the Taliban, the Afghan war's "endgame" will be nigh.
On one key front, the president can now put negotiators at the table with Taliban forces without being criticized for "negotiating with terrorists," Chandrasekaran noted. On another, Taliban faction leader Mohammad Omar will likely be under tremendous pressure to end his alliance with al Qaeda, breaking another key barrier to U.S. withdrawal.
"Bin Laden’s death is the beginning of the endgame in Afghanistan," an unnamed senior official reportedly said. "It changes everything."
That's likely to be music to the ears of many progressives -- and even some Republicans -- who've long hounded President Obama to pull U.S. forces out of the war-torn country.
"In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan," read a letter signed by House Progressive Caucus earlier this week.
"We are hopeful that Osama Bin Laden's death will offer comfort to the families of the victims of unconscionable attacks on innocent life that have occurred throughout the world and on 9/11," they wrote, asking the president to support a "near-term and significant drawdown" of troops starting in July.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), similarly, joined with Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) last month to support a resolution that would bring the troops home. It failed 321-93. His words, however, gained greater influence after bin Laden's death.
In an exclusive interview with Raw Story, Rep. Jones said he'd support an immediate declaration that America has won the war on terror.
"We could declare victory today," he said. "We have eliminated the leader of al Qaeda, bin Laden. He's now dead. So let's declare victory and start bringing our troops home."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who represents one of the districts most affected by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, said he too supports a declaration of victory and withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“This, I hope, will now give us the impetus for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan, for which there is very little use that I can see for them remaining there,” he told Fox 5 NYC earlier this week.