The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Petraeus, Flournoy Defend July 2011 Transition Date in Afghanistan

So far, this Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan is less about Kandahar and more about parsing what President Obama meant when he

Iram Martins
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jun 16, 2010

So far, this Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan is less about Kandahar and more about parsing what President Obama meant when he established July 2011 as an “inflection point” for beginning a transition to Afghan security.

Trying to clarify after yesterday’s initial back-and-forth with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a critic of setting any date, Gen. Petraeus read a prepared statement expressing support for the date. During the administration’s debate over Afghanistan strategy last fall, “I did believe there is value of sending a message of urgency” to the Afghan government, Petraeus said. “But it is important that July 2011 be seen for what it is: a date a process begins, determined by conditions” on the ground, “not the end” of a U.S. commitment to Afghanistan.

Flournoy reiterated that the date is “an inflection point,” marking the end of the deployment of the surge brigades being sent to Afghanistan now, and the pace of additional drawdowns will be “conditions based.” The president “believes in a conditions-based process,” Flournoy said, adding that May’s visit by the Afghan government provided an opportunity to clarify the U.S.’s “long-term commitment” to Afghanistan.

That said, Petraeus left himself some wiggle room to change his perspective when July 2011 approaches. His support for setting the date in the fall debate — a date he said was “etched in stone” — was “based on projections of conditions by July 2011.” Left unsaid, but hanging in the air, is the prospect that Petraeus would support a rather slow troop drawdown if those conditions don’t materialize. That said, he expressed great confidence that they would. “The trajectory, in my view, has generally been upward” in Afghanistan, Petraeus said, “despite the losses despite the setbacks.”

That may sound like parsing, but parsing July 2011 is the order of the morning. No matter how often Petraeus and Flournoy described July 2011 as marking the beginning of a conditions-based transition to Afghan security responsibilities, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) characterized it as “a goal.”

Evincing an apparent understanding about the political stakes of parsing July 2011, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the committee chairman, passed to reporters a statement reading: “I am glad to hear Gen. Petraeus express his support for the decision to begin U.S. troop reductions in Afghanistan in July 2011. I strongly believe it is essential for success in Afghanistan that everyone understand the urgency with which the Afghans need to take responsibility for their own security.”

Iram Martins | Personal trainer. Aspiring sommelier. Brunch critic who works part-time. When I'm not competing, you'll find me at dog beaches with my black lab or sipping drinks at the best bars in town. I like to fly a lot.


Pentagon Shooter Exploited Gun-Show Loophole

John Patrick Bedell, who shot and wounded two police officers near the Pentagon earlier this month, bought at least one of his 9 mm guns at a Nevada gun show,

MA-Sen: 150 Conservative Bloggers Fan Out, Looking for Scandals

BOSTON -- The mysterious Election Journal blog, which first released the infamous 2008 video of two bumbling New Black Panther Party members waving nightsticks

MA-Sen: Brown Wins

BOSTON -- At 9:20, the first rumors of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race started to work around the room. A moment later, Doug Flutie

MA-Sen: 66 to 19

BOSTON -- That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary

MA-Sen: A Text Message From Scott Brown

BOSTON -- Having signed up for Scott Brown’s text message service for election day, I just got this text: Are you about to have lunch? It’s a great time to

MA-Sen: Out-of-Staters for Brown

BOSTON -- A surprising discovery at yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester was just how many people had traveled into the state to assist, in whatever way,

MA-Sen Photos: ‘Paint the Town Red! Croakley’s Dead!’

Below are some photos of yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester, the rally that Brown held to counter-program the Obama rally in Boston. The crush of

Menendez, Lautenberg to Continue BP-Lockerbie Investigation

Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, will continue to seek details about BP’s alleged involvement in the release last year of

Net Investors Bullish on Palin’s Prospects for Staying on Ticket

Just for fun, the Internet prediction Website Intrade has opened a contract on whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as McCain’s running mate.

No Experience Necessary

Gov. Sarah Palin’s a middle-class hockey mom, but does that really qualify her to be vice president?

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |