The Afghan Drawdown: Explain Yourselves!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 23 2011 10:10 AM

The Afghan Drawdown: Explain Yourselves!

The president's Afghanistan speech is being followed up by hearings with Hillary Clinton, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy. The latter administration officials are in the House, which promises to lead to more contentious questions. In the run-up, Mullen and Flournoy are explaining that the plan got the sign-off of commanders -- including David Petraeus* -- and is obviously proof of success.

"We did have it right," said Mullen. "The strategy is working." If the U.S. didn't draw down, "we would have made it easier for the Karzai administration to increase their dependence on us."

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Flournoy explained that the country would be better off as the drawdown -- 33,000 fewer troops by the end of 2012 -- concludes.

"By the time we complete our drawdown, we anticipate that the Afghan security forces will have added an additional 55,000 members."

A whole lot of optimism in there. 

*Unsurprising, but something that they need to say.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.