Despite Barack Obama’s trumpeted force draw-down in Afghanistan, by the end of next summer more than twice as many U.S. troops will be fighting in that country’s civil war as there were when he became president in 2009. His soothing words notwithstanding, a force of about 70,000 will remain there at least until the end of 2014. We can be sure, however, that that won’t stop the president from campaigning for reelection on a peace platform. As Election Day 2012 approaches, we’ll be treated to lots of footage of withdrawing soldiers.
Yet Obama’s speech in June was mostly show, a spectacle to make the war- and deficit-weary public think he’s taking substantial steps toward disengagement. He did something similar in Iraq, though 50,000 troops remain and are still taking casualties.