On the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops in Afghanistan. Around midnight on May 1, 2012, the president arrived at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, and flew by helicopter to sign a treaty at President Karzai’s palace.

When the President Obama arrived at the palace, he met briefly with President Karzai before they emerged to sign the pact. The president signed a pact with the Afghanistan president outlining the future U.S. role in the country, and acknowledging that massive Western military presence is coming to an end.

Lately there has been a difficult relationship with President Karzai and the U.S., because an American sergeant has been charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians. This event has strained the relationship with the two countries, and there are also photos showing American soldiers posing with the remains of Taliban insurgents.

President Karzai appeared positive at the signing ceremony and said, “The agreement opened a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan marked by mutual respect.” But behind closed doors, I think both presidents are frustrated and annoyed with their relationship. President Karzai has openly criticized the American presence in the country, and night raids conducted by Special Operations troops and civilian casualties.

On the other hand President Obama is frustrated with President Karzai, because many believe his family is involved in the trafficking of drugs. Others believe that the government is corrupt, and President Karzai allows rampant fraud and graft. Based on all of this confusion, it would seem difficult that the two leaders could sit down and agree on a credible and transparent treaty.

Nevertheless, both leaders emerged from their brief meeting and they signed the agreement. This pact is a ten year agreement, but it does not contain a specific dollar commitment by the U.S. There are also loopholes in the agreement that gives both parties the ability to invalidate the pact.

“My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the predawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. 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,” says President Obama.

The Afghanistan war will not come to a smooth closure, because that was never a clear perspective or path of who was the real enemy. When Afghan soldiers are discovered and established as the shooter in the murder of American troops, it makes it hard to trust anyone in the country. Even though President Obama has announced that our soldiers have fulfilled our mission in Afghanistan, our troops will leave a messy, violent place.

The timing of the trip was dictated by the desire of both presidents to sign the agreement before a NATO summit meeting in Chicago this month. In Chicago, the U.S. and NATO allies will ratify a shift in the mission in 2013 from a combat role to one focused on counterterrorism and training of Afghan security forces.

“After more than a decade of war, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” said President Obama on his weekly radio address. Americans are sick of war and the money that is being wasted at war. Ending a war is a sloppy procedure, but the president got us out of Iraq and now he must get us out of Afghanistan.       

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