From the New York Times, and the non-stop flapping gums of Leon Panetta, we now hear that we will "step back from a combat role" in Afghanistan in mid-2013, and that "role of our troops will gradually change from combat to support." There is no mention of troops coming home, and no mention of what factor, precisely, will prevent the enemy from shooting at and/or bombing our troops. Just that the "warlike nature" or our presence in Afghanistan will begin diminishing sooner.
Absent from this is any declaration of victory or any real reason at all. One might infer reasons, of course, such as that the French have gotten fed up and are leaving, and that all American decisions are now based on the fact that Obama is actively campaigning for reelection.
To paraphrase a former president, "We do these things not because they are hard, but because they are easy."
And, of course there’s the usual phrase that comes every time that Panneta shoots off his mouth, namely that, “Since then Mr. Panetta’s advisors have been scrambling to clarify his remarks and are now saying that…” It seems that the President still does not quite have his Secretary of Defense under control, and that the role of Panetta's "advisors" is not so much to "advise" as to play the role of the guys in the parade who follow the horse teams with the wheelbarrows and shovels.