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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today in the West Wing: Thursday, May 13

Good morning...there are 87,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan today – there’ll be 100,000 by this summer.

But President Obama says they won’t be staying long:

"I am confident that we’re going to be able to reduce our troop strength in Afghanistan starting in July 2011."

Obama – insisting that after eight years in Afghanistan – now the longest active military conflict in American history – he needs just one more year to accomplish the military mission – and turn over more control of that war-torn country to the Afghans.

But the U.S. presence there in general? That’s open-ended. Economic development, cultural ties - the nation-building thing.

"But after July 2011, we are still going to have an interest in making sure that Afghanistan is secure, that economic development is taking place, that good governance is being promoted. And so we’re going to still be putting in resources and we’re still going to be a friend to the Afghan people in their efforts to stabilize. So that’s something I want to make absolutely clear."

There are plenty of analysts however, who say Obama’s military deadline is arbitrary, driven more by his 2012 re-election bid than the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

The White House denies this and says one reason we’ve been in Afghanistan so long is that for most of the last eight years the war was largely ignored, largely under-resourced, and largely overshadowed by Iraq.

Hence the Obama surge: tripling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan – and between now and next summer. He's bracing the American people for more casualties:

"There are going to be ups and downs. And one thing that I’ve tried to emphasize is the fact that there’s going to be some hard fighting over the next several months."


Kagan Watch

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan makes another round of Senate visits. On the schedule today: Kerry, Specter, Schumer, Collins, Cardin, Brown, and Klobuchar.


The Schedule


10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

1:35PM THE PRESIDENT tours the facilities of Industrial Support Inc.
Buffalo, New York
Travel Pool Coverage

1:50PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks on the economy and take questions from workers and small businesses in the audience
Industrial Support Inc., Buffalo, New York
Open Press

7:05PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at a DCCC fundraising dinner
St. Regis Hotel, New York, New York
Travel Pool Coverage

Briefing Schedule

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton will gaggle aboard Air Force One


On This Day
1846: Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk's request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.

Presidential Quote
"Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away."
- Abraham Lincoln.

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