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An Iraq Lesson Learned!
Posted by Newshoggers.com on March 8th, 2011

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

This from the AP:

The United States is beginning to decide what its responsibilities will be in Afghanistan after U.S. combat troops leave, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday, but he ruled out permanent military bases in the strategically important country.

…Gates said the U.S. is interested in keeping a military presence in this former al-Qaida haven beyond the planned end of combat in three years. At a news conference with Karzai, Gates said a team of U.S. officials would arrive here next week to begin negotiations over a new compact for U.S.-Afghan security relations after 2014.

The Iraq lesson learned is: have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in place by the US 2012 elections if you want to take the war off the table for discussion. Cynical political manouvering for the win!

But if Gates really wants no permanent bases in Afghanistan then maybe the Pentagon should stop building them. For the fiscal year of 2011 alone, over $1.3 billion in funding was asked of Congress for "multiyear construction of military facilities". And maybe he should explain the about-turn to Karzai, who said back in February that he was in talks with the United States about the possible establishment of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.

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