Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared Monday that the United States will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, no matter what President Obama decides on immediate troop levels.
“We’re not leaving Afghanistan,” Gates said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that also included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “There should be no uncertainly in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership … with the Pakistanis,” Gates said. “That’s a strategic objective.” Because of our inability and the inability, frankly, of our allies to put enough troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban now have the momentum,” Gates said. Gates added that an eventual Taliban victory would provide “added space” for al Qaeda to set up in the country and enhance recruiting and fundraising, bolstered by the perspective of a second victory over a superpower by Muslim forces after driving out the Soviet Union in the 1980s.