At a recent Brookings Institution event, Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow there, offered some cogent observations about how the jihadis view the drawdown in Afghanistan.
Part of it I think is simply this: the smell of blood in the water. There is a perception in Pakistan, and a perception in Afghanistan, that the United States is about to cut and run, that we are about to dump this problem. And with that perception is the perception that the jihad is on the verge of its greatest victory ever, that the defeat of the Soviet Union was one thing, the defeat of America is something even bigger, and that in the aftermath of that we can go on to other conflicts, and that we can take over and hijack the state of Pakistan. Now I think a lot of this is far-fetched. I think it’s fantastical, but it doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what people who are willing to blow themselves up and kill other people think, and they seem to think this. Which is why, as painful as it is, I think that the President has embarked on the right project in Afghanistan, which is to depart in a prudent, cautious, and careful way–and not to just cut and run” (emphasis added).
According to the New York Times, “The United States currently has about 66,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. NATO and other coalition nations have about 37,000 troops.”
“President Obama has announced that 34,000 United States troops will be removed by February 2014.”