In a primetime address to the nation, President Barack Obama declared that the United States had achieved many of its goals in Afghanistan and announced a plan to withdraw 10,000 troops from the Middle Eastern country by the end of this year.
The remaining 20,000 troops would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country. Mr. Obama said the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014.
He also declared that the "tide of war is receding." Mr. Obama said that Afghanistan, which served as a base for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States.
According to the President, both al-Qaida and the Taliban are under much strain. More than half of al-Qaida's leadership, including Osama bin Laden, has been killed and al-Qaida has been unable to effectively replace these senior terrorists. The Taliban has also faced serious losses including parting with a large number of its strongholds.
Although Mr. Obama sounded optimistic, he recognized that there are many challenges ahead.
"This is the beginning - but not the end - of our effort to wind down this war. We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government," he said.
"My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We have learned anew the profound cost of war -- a cost that has been paid by the nearly 4500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1500 who have done so in Afghanistan - men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended." President Barack Obama.
"America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home." President Barack Obama.
"And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end." President Barack Obama.
1. Where is Afghanistan? In what part of the world is it located?
2. What happened in the United States on September 11, 2001?
3. Who was Osama bin Laden?
4. What is the Taliban?
5. What is al-Qaida?
1. Why is President Obama withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan?
2. Do you think that the Afghan government is capable of handling its own security issues?
3. In his speech, President Obama said it's time to "focus on nation-building here at home." What does he mean? Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?