President Obama Announces Slow Afghanistan Withdrawal

There are few things I don't understand about the Afghanistan War. No, that's not true, I understand very little of it. I've tried over these last 10 (!) years, to wrap my brain around it, but I don't get it. And now that Osama bin Laden is dead, as far as I (and most Americans) are concerned, mission accomplished. This time for real. On Wednesday night, President Obama made an announcement regarding the slow--very, very slow--wind-down of the war. Why so slow? I have no idea.

Most Democrats, and increasingly more Republicans want the war to end, as quickly as possible. Finishing by 2014 does not do that. In fact, the first leg of the draw-down is itself painfully slow, not wrapping up until mid-2012, leaving more troops there than were there when Bush left office. I can't wrap my brain around Obama's reasoning any more than I can about the war in general. My biggest questions are:

- If we ended the war today, would we be tangibly worse off than staying in, and how?
- What is going to happen in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that we have to wait for in order to leave?
- From a cynical, political viewpoint, why would Obama come out with such a drastically unpopular action?

And perhaps the answer to the third question is that this is not a political calculation at all. Maybe there's something more to the slow draw down than craven politics? I'm not making excuses here, just trying to understand. Personally, I think we should pull out of all our middle-east operations. But as I stated at the start, what do I know?