The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Afghanistan Update: Ryan Criticizes the Withdrawal Plan

by Newsteam Staff
August 21, 2012

An Afghan boy peeks out of his home to watch a U.S. paratrooper walking past near the town of Ahmad Khel in Afghanistan's Paktiya Province July 16, 2012 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters). An Afghan boy and a U.S. paratrooper in Afghanistan's Paktiya Province July 16, 2012 (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).


At a New Hampshire town hall Monday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan answered several questions about foreign policy, including making several remarks critical about U.S. plans for leaving Afghanistan (ABC).

“A drawdown occurring in the middle of a fighting season when we are still giving our military the same mission, we don’t want to do something that would put them in jeopardy,” Ryan said saying the current plan was more about politics. “We want them to fulfill the mission in the safest way possible and that, to me, means you make decisions based on what is right for the country, for our national security and let our men and women serving in our armed forces do their job in the safest possible way.”

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also discussed his views on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan (WSJ), saying he would do everything in his power to facilitate the transition from U.S. military action to Afghan forces taking over the primary security role, though he has not given specific details on how his plans would differ from current policy. He also criticized the president for not speaking more often about the war’s progress (NYT).

And in a surprise visit to the White House daily press briefing, President Barack Obama said he has been speaking with commanders on the ground in Afghanistan about the recent violence against U.S. troops at the hands of Afghan military trainees and that while such attacks are a matter of concern, they will not alter the timetable. “In the long term, we will see fewer U.S. casualties and coalition casualties by sticking to our transition plan and making sure that we’ve got the most effective Afghan security force possible.  But we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t leave our guys vulnerable,” he said.

Some analysts have complained Afghanistan has not been enough of an issue on the 2012 campaign trail.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates and Afghanistan.

Suggested Other Reading:

In this report, CFR’s Max Boot recommends seven specific steps the United States can take to secure Afghanistan’s future and prevent the reemergence of Taliban rule.

Businessweek reports that in spite of recent increases in “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks against U.S. military personnel by their Afghan counterparts, the Pentagon says such attacks are carried out by “disgruntled individuals,” not an organization Taliban insurgents.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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