Obama: 'time of war' is done, now time for renewal

President Barack Obama said Wednesday a "time of war" was ending in a moment of American renewal, on a secret trip to Afghanistan a year after ordering the death of Osama bin Laden.

In a highly political election-year address from outside Kabul, Obama showcased his record as a commander-in-chief who ended two long wars, and conjured up a new dawn for a nation exhausted by conflict and recession.

"This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end," Obama said, recalling a "decade under the dark cloud of war," after US troops were drawn into the Afghan quagmire after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

"Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon," said Obama, seeking to use political capital earned by bringing troops home to validate his request for a second White House term.

Obama earlier dropped from night skies into Kabul amid secrecy and tight security and signed a deal with President Hamid Karzai, cementing 10 years of US aid for Afghanistan after NATO combat troops leave in 2014.

"Neither Americans nor the Afghan people asked for this war, yet for a decade we've stood together," Obama said at the signing ceremony.

"We look forward to a future of peace. We're agreeing to be long-term partners," said Obama who was due to make a high-security departure from Kabul later on Wednesday.

The pact, agreed last month, sees the possibility of American forces staying behind to train Afghan forces and pursue the remnants of Al-Qaeda for 10 years, but does not commit Washington to specific troop or funding levels for Afghanistan.

It is meant to send a signal to US foes that despite ending the longest war in US history, Washington intends to ensure Afghanistan does not revert to a haven for terror groups like Al-Qaeda.

But after a war that has cost the lives of nearly 3,000 US and allied troops, maimed tens of thousands more, saw thousands of Afghans killed and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, the future is deeply uncertain.

After nearly a week of hardball politics, Obama has been accused by angry Republicans of exploiting the heroism of Navy SEAL special forces who conducted the raid to kill bin Laden deep in Pakistan exactly a year ago.

But he clearly sought to use the trip to Afghanistan to bolster his credentials as a ruthless leader who had kept his promise to voters to turn from painful wars abroad to rebuilding at home ahead of November's election.

"The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to Al-Qaeda," he said.

"As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America," Obama said against a backdrop of military vehicles in their sandy desert liveries.

"A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation," Obama said.

Yet though he sought to put a capstone on the war, Obama's statement effectively meant that US troops could be fighting for two more years, and some could remain in danger for a decade more.

And Obama bluntly told American troops there was more suffering to come.

Obama also addressed soldiers at Bagram air force base.

"It's still tough, the battle is not yet over. Some of your buddies are going to get injured, some of your buddies may get killed," Obama said.

"There is going to be heartbreak and pain and difficulty ahead, but there is a light on the horizon because of the sacrifices you have made."

A senior US official said the post-war partnership deal signed after months of wrangling would make "clear to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups that they cannot wait us out."

The deal states that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan and was concluded just over two weeks before a NATO summit in Chicago.

The trip underlined the symbolic power of the presidency at a time when Obama is locked in a fierce row with his Republican election foe Mitt Romney over claims he is hyping the bin Laden death anniversary for political gain.

On Monday, Obama had publicly questioned whether Romney would have taken the same decision as he did to launch an elite Navy SEALs raid deep into Pakistan to kill bin Laden in his lair in Abbottabad.

Romney accused Obama of inappropriately exploiting a moment of great national unity for political gain.

"Of course, I would have taken out Osama bin Laden, but what's the right course for the economy?" Romney said on CBS "This Morning."

"These are important issues people care about. The president's not talking about them. My campaign is."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • UNA hits PNP selection process
    UNA hits PNP selection process

    The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday the apparent machinations in the selection of the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA interim president, said the administration and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are perpetuating the bata-bata or patronage system in the selection process of the police chief. “They will start this by maneuvering the appointment of Gen. Garbo as PNP chief,” said Tiangco, referring to one of the top contenders for PNP …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options