The Ticket

Obama: Americans can’t wait for ‘perfect’ Afghanistan before withdrawal

President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged "risks" in his decision to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 but said war-weary Americans can't wait for that strife-torn country to be "perfect."

"I don't think that there is ever going to be an optimal point where we say, this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home," Obama said at a press conference at the end of a two-day NATO summit in his hometown of Chicago.

Obama also said the Pentagon isn't giving him an unrealistically rosy picture of Afghanistan. "I can't afford a white-wash. I can't afford not getting the very best information in order to make good decisions."

"I should add, by the way, that the danger a lot of times is not that anybody is purposely trying to downplay challenges in Afghanistan. A lot of times it's just the military culture is 'we can get it done.'  And so, their thinking is, 'how are we going to solve this problem?' not boy, 'why is this such a disaster?'"

The alliance, which had already embraced the 2014 withdrawal date, voted to hand Afghan forces the lead in combat operations starting in mid-2013. Building up the country's military and police — and its economy — are vital to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force's planned draw-down.

"We leave Chicago with a clear roadmap," the president said. "Our coalition is committed to this plan to bring our war in Afghanistan to a responsible end."

"This is a process and it's sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq. But think about it. We've been there now 10 years," Obama said. "And the Afghan Security Forces themselves will not ever be prepared if they don't start taking that responsibility."Obama said the vast NATO-led presence "can be counterproductive," because "no matter how much good we're doing" a decade-long war can put "a strain" on Americans and Afghans alike.

"So I think that the timetable that we've established is a sound one, it is a responsible one," he said. " Are there risks involved in it? Absolutely. Can I anticipate that over the next two years there are going to be some bad moments along with some good ones? Absolutely."

Republicans have criticized the withdrawal plan, saying it will encourage Islamist fighters to wait out the allies and prompt even friendly Afghans to hedge their bets for a day when NATO troops are gone.

On Sunday, the top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, stressed that American soldiers would still be in combat — just not in the lead — until they leave at the end of 2014. And Allen said he would have a contingency force ready to help out Afghan troops next year if the Taliban prove too much for them.

The United States is on track to reduce its presence to 68,000 troops by late September. More than 3,000 Americans have been killed in the decade-long conflict launched to catch or kill Osama bin Laden, whom Navy SEALS shot dead in a dramatic May 2011 raid inside Pakistan.

But NATO forces "will continue to train, advise and assist, and support Afghan forces as they grow stronger," Obama said.

"I think it is the appropriate strategy whereby we can achieve a stable Afghanistan that won't be perfect, we can pull back our troops in a responsible way and we can start rebuilding America and making some of the massive investments we've been making in Afghanistan here back home, putting people back to work, retraining workers, rebuilding our schools, investing in science and technology, developing our business climate," he said.

View photo

.

More popular Yahoo! News stories:

Obama campaign condemns Bill Maher's Romney 'cult' remark

Mitch Daniels on VP post: 'If I thought that call was coming, I would disconnect the phone'

Notre Dame sues Obama administration over birth control mandate

Want more of our best political stories? Visit The Ticket or connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Tumblr. Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.

View Comments (3)

Recommended for You

  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge walked out of a Missouri prison a free man on Tuesday, after spending two decades behind bars.

    Associated Press
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Video of Israeli soldier arresting boy becomes latest in war of perception

    A soldier pins a boy down and is assaulted by his family: The scene might have gone unnoticed if not for footage that has turned it into another weapon in the Israel-Palestinian war of perception. Palestinians see it as proof of Israel's abuses in the occupied West Bank, while many Israelis say the…

    AFP
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

    By Megan Rowling BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products. The fuel price…

    Reuters
  • US markets drop after bleak Chinese manufacturing report

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stock markets were plunging again Tuesday, continuing Wall Street's month-long rocky ride, after gloomy economic data out of China rekindled fears that the world's second-largest economy is slowing much faster than anticipated.

    Associated Press9 mins ago
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • View

    The back alleys of one of America’s most dangerous cities (31 photos)

    High-tech policing and a renewed focus on community-officer partnerships are helping to bring calm to Camden, N.J., but it hasn’t been a cure-all. The impoverished town of 77,000 is still the most violent and crime-plagued city in the Garden State. A local policeman recently took Yahoo News…

    Yahoo News
  • Boko Haram killers on horseback massacre nearly 80 in NE Nigeria

    Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback shot dead nearly 80 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria's restive northeast at the weekend, a vigilante and residents told AFP on Monday. Babakura Kolo, a vigilante fighting Boko Haram, said 68 people were killed in the attack on Baanu village in…

    AFP
  • Obama slams 'completely unacceptable' cop killing

    President Barack Obama vowed Monday to push for police officer safety after a Texas sheriff's deputy was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range. Darren Goforth, 47, was killed late Friday in the Houston area, and local officials have blamed ramped-up rhetoric against police…

    AFP
  • This versatile 15-in-1 Travel Jacket is Kickstarter’s most funded piece of clothing at $7.2M

    Remember the MacGyver Travel Jacket that has 15 compartments that each have their own designated functions? It turns out that so many people loved the idea of having such a “smart” jacket that the project became the most funded piece of clothing in Kickstarter history, topping $7.2 million in…

    BGR News
  • Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms

    By Roxanne Nelson (Reuters Health) - Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests. The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis…

    Reuters
  • Big guns in east Ukraine fall silent, two more die from wounds in Kiev protests

    Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February. More than 6,500 people have been killed since a separatist rebellion erupted there in…

    Reuters
  • CERN: Test results show more detail about 'God particle'

    GENEVA (AP) — After three years of scrutinizing the elusive Higgs boson closely, scientists say they've determined that the "God particle" behaves just as predicted.

    Associated Press