Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Afghanistan turmoil won't change war plan, U.S. officials say

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is sticking to its stay-the-course message in Afghanistan despite a week of anti-American riots, the killing of two U.S. military advisers and growing election-year demands to bring the troops home.

In an echo of the Bush administration on continuing the unpopular war in Iraq, the White House and Pentagon insisted Monday that the wave of violence against Americans will not derail the war strategy in Afghanistan or speed up the calendar for bringing American forces home.

"We work alongside thousands of Afghans every single day to ensure a better future for the Afghan people. And nothing that has happened over the past week is going to deter us from that goal," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. "We're making progress. We have put the enemy on its heels in many parts of the country."

But the perception that Afghans are ungrateful for U.S. sacrifice and are turning on their American advisers complicates President Barack Obama's plan to ease out of combat against the Taliban over the next two years.

Under current strategy, tens of thousands of U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan at least through the end of this year and Afghan forces would have full control of the country's security by the end of 2014. Both Democrats and Republicans have said the timetable should move up.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the violence will not mean faster troop withdrawal. He pointed to Obama's rationale for expanding the war early in his presidency.

"The No. 1 priority, the reason why U.S. troops are in Afghanistan in the first place, is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately, ultimately defeat al-Qaida," Carney said.

Administration officials said they believe Afghan President Hamid Karzai's fragile government could collapse and the Taliban would regain power if the United States were to walk away.

A Pew Research Center poll indicates that more than half, 56 percent, of Americans want troops removed from Afghanistan as soon as possible, while just 38 percent believe the U.S. should stay until Afghanistan is stabilized. The poll was taken just before Obama's State of the Union address in late January.

Sen. Dick Durbin, a leader in the Senate, said Monday the United States should move faster to bring forces home now.

"The sooner the better," Durbin said on MSNBC. "The president is right to start bringing the troops home. I would say to him: Do it more quickly."

Although a military spokesman said protests over the mistaken U.S. burning of copies of the Koran last week are ebbing, the depth of anger at U.S. forces was evident in a suicide bombing at one base and the possible attempted poisoning of U.S. soldiers by a kitchen worker at another.

More than 30 people have died in clashes since it became known last week that copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, and other religious materials were thrown into a fire pit used to burn garbage at a U.S. base near Kabul.

Comments
China faces protests after investment scheme collapses

China faces protests after investment scheme collapses

Chinese authorities are struggling to quell public protests following the collapse of an investment scheme that police say took as much as $4.7 billion from thousands of depositors
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Wisconsin GOP set to rebuke elections, ethics agency heads

Wisconsin GOP set to rebuke elections, ethics agency heads

Republicans still smarting from a secret investigation into conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker have scheduled a vote to oust leaders of the bipartisan state elections and ethics agencies
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Alaska hit by 7.9 earthquake; tsunami warning canceled

Alaska hit by 7.9 earthquake; tsunami warning canceled

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has struck off Alaska's Kodiak Island, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of coastal Alaska and Canada's British Columbia
Updated: 9 minutes ago

AP Top News at 8:07 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 8:07 a.m. EST
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Latest: Fire chief praises calm reaction after Alaska quake

Latest: Fire chief praises calm reaction after Alaska quake

The fire chief of a popular Alaska cruise ship port city says there was no panic as residents reacted to a tsunami warning triggered by an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to MVP form for Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to MVP form for Lightning

Nobody in the Lightning dressing room was worried about goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.Sure, Vasilevskiy had allowed 23 goals in his last five starts, with just one win. It was his first tough stretch in his first full season as No. 1, even though it ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Injured Nadal out of Australian Open; Cilic into semifinals

Injured Nadal out of Australian Open; Cilic into semifinals

An injured and visibly struggling Rafael Nadal has retired while trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Shiffrin has rare fall as Mowinckel leads 1st run of GS

Shiffrin has rare fall as Mowinckel leads 1st run of GS

Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway holds a slim lead following the first run of a giant slalom while overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin had an uncharacteristic fall
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Injured Nadal out of Australian Open; Cilic into semifinals

Injured Nadal out of Australian Open; Cilic into semifinals

An injured and visibly struggling Rafael Nadal has retired while trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic
Updated: 16 minutes ago
The Latest: Hamas leader says US prefers Israel over Arabs

The Latest: Hamas leader says US prefers Israel over Arabs

Top Islamic Hamas leader accuses US of preferring Israel over its interests with Arabs in Middle East.
Updated: 16 minutes ago