On Saturday, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan stated that American soldiers could remain in Afghanistan past the withdrawal deadline announced by the president. The set withdrawal deadline is 2014. He stated that leaders in the Afghan government had expressed their desire for U.S. soldiers to remain in Afghanistan longer. Ambassador Crocker replied to reporters’ questions by indicating that the Afghan government would need to formally ask for American troops to remain. However, in that case the U.S. would most likely agree.
Some would view the Ambassador Crocker’s claims as contradictory to White House statements. Yet, the White House responded to his remarks by concluding that he was not speaking against the desires of White House officials. They clarified that the president said beginning in 2014 Afghan security would be under the control of the Afghan people. He did not state that all troops would be removed from Afghanistan by 2014. There is a question of what role these remaining troops would play. Many expected if troops were in Afghanistan past the proposed date they would be training and advising Afghan military personnel. The declaration by Ambassador Crocker acknowledges the possibility of combat forces continuing to be in Afghanistan post-2014.
In this situation it is clear to see how the responsibilities of the president and the ambassador conflict. The president is not only the predominate representative of the United States in international affairs, but also he is answerable to the voting public. Many Americans are weary of engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Announcements of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, beginning in July 2011, were supported by many Americans. The ambassador, on the other hand, has direct contact with leaders in Afghanistan and extensive knowledge of the events on the ground. He is more likely to make statements on the engagements in Afghanistan without American public opinion weighing on his depictions of the status of the mission and the future needs.Although throughout history presidential elections have not been determined by foreign affairs, they are projected to be incredibly important for the 2012 elections. The involvement of international relations in the elections is crucial because not only due to American public opinion, but U.S. relations abroad. It is very important to chose words carefully so that candidates can appeal to American voters while not compromising U.S. relations abroad.