At times the popular consensus seems to be that the war in Afghanistan is winding down. American troops have already begun withdrawing, and the current plan is to hand over security for the country to Kabul by the end of 2014, according to the Telegraph. But the latest reports are that the U.S. is close to negotiating a deal with Afghanistan where U.S. troops would remain in country a lot longer... until 2024. Over ten years away. At this point, it's not set in stone, but the Telegraph reports that Afghan and American officials said that they hoped to sign the pact before the Bonn Conference in Afghanistan in December. It's been a long war, and its getting longer.
Let's try to make sense of this.
What Afghanistan is getting out of this: The Telegraph writes that "Afghans wary of being abandoned are keen to lock America into a longer partnership after the deadline." Of course, Afghanistan is divided into numerous factions, and here it seems that the leading political faction seems to be in favor. Hamid Karzai top security adviser said a longer-term presence was crucial not only to build Afghan forces, but also to fight terrorism.
What we're getting out of this: Prolonged control. It's unlikely to come as a shock to anyone that our Middle East wars are not purely humanitarian missions, and, accordingly, the Telegraph reports that "many analysts also believe the American military would like to retain a presence close to Pakistan, Iran and China." Karzai's security officer, in a similar vein, said, "the U.S. needs facilities." We certainly do.