WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama leaves the White House in 2017, his successor will take command of the ongoing mission of bombing civilian hospitals in Afghanistan, sources confirmed today.
"While America's combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures," said Obama, in a brief statement from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. "I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for civilians to shelter from our nation again."
In a reversal of his previous decision to withdraw thousands of unused American gunships, jets, and bombs from Afghanistan, Obama announced Thursday that he would maintain a presence in the country through 2017, indefinitely prolonging the U.S. mission of counterterrorism at hospitals, wedding parties, and other dangerous hotbeds of civilian activity.
The decision was reached after what White House officials called an "extensive, lengthy review" of almost seven or eight minutes.
"It may have even been nine," said one senior administration official, who would only speak to reporters on condition of anonymity. "This was a gut-wrenching call that, we feel, will really set us on the path to fulfill the mission in Afghanistan that we're so close to reaching after just 13 years."
Obama's decision pushes America's longest war right into the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign, an issue in the race that so far had been of little importance among voters since roughly three presidential elections ago.
Political analysts believe the candidates will either condemn Obama's "feckless" leadership in only being able to kill nine out of ten civilians in U.S. drone strikes, or praise him for continuing to keep terror leader Osama bin Laden dead for more than four years, a record anyone who succeeds him will find difficult to beat.
In his statement, Obama did not mention Iraq. But he did say the mission in Afghanistan had the benefit of a clear objective of being someone else's problem after he leaves office, and its corrupt but supportive government — though it does not prosecute men when they rape children — has signed legal agreements that protect American forces.
"Every single day, Afghan forces are out there fighting and dying to protect their country. They're not looking for us to do it for them," Obama said, while briefly noting the U.S. continues to funnel approximately $4 billion and give Afghan soldiers on-call air support for taking out dangerous civilian hospitals, schools, and toy-making factories.
He closed by mentioning the incredible progress NATO forces have made since 2001 in training roughly 330,000 Afghan super-soldiers that no one would trust around a potato gun.