News / Europe

Reaction Mixed in London to US Plans for Afghanistan

British troops in Afghanistan
British troops in Afghanistan

Multimedia

Al Pessin

President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan more quickly than expected reverberated Thursday in Europe, where many governments and some citizens also are eager to see their involvement in the nearly 10-year-old war come to an end.

The president’s announcement was not front page news in most British newspapers, but one that did cover the decision called it a gamble and a retreat.

On a visit to Afghanistan, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the president’s decision is in line with British government thinking, and with its plan to withdraw 400 of its nearly 10,000 troops by February, and likely more after that.

“We will continue to assess the number of British forces required, based on the condition on the ground, but of course leading to a point by 2015 where we will not have combat troops fighting in Afghanistan or in anything like the numbers they are today," said Hague.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed President Obama’s decision.

“The United States took the bold decision to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan by 30,000," said  Fogh Rasmussen. "Other allies and partners stepped up and provided an additional 10,000 troops, and together those troops were part of an international effort to turn the tide in Afghanistan. And now the tide is turning.”

At London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, retired British Brigadier Ben Barry said European countries are likely to follow the U.S. lead.

“Of course there is a danger that not only will they match the U.S. drawdown timetable, but they might exceed it," said Barry.

Barry says that could embolden Taliban fighters, and top U.S. military officers would have preferred to keep more troops in Afghanistan for a longer period.

“[And] if you decide to go against military advice, what you want to be absolutely certain of is that the rest of the government is pulling together to maximize the chance of the success of the strategy," he said.

Just outside the Institute, at a busy Underground Station, people passing by were generally glad to hear British troops might also be coming home relatively soon. But they were also concerned about finishing the job in Afghanistan.

"One needs to be ready to hand over," said a man. "You can’t hand over something that is still an absolute mess, can you?"

Reporter: "So you think the Afghan mission is still worth pursuing a while longer?"

"They've got to get it right before they hand it over," answered the man.

"You get out and leave it a mess doesn't seem right, either," said a woman. "So, it has to be done gradually and it has to be done sensitively."

"It has to be balance between the number of troops they withdraw and pull back, set against continuing their presence in Aghanistan to finish what they started," said another person.

The first U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan next month, with all 33,000 surge troops sent there in 2009 out by next September.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid