How will U.S. troop withdrawal affect places like Kabul and Kandahar and what is the Taliban's long-term strategy?
CNN senior international correspondent talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper after President Obama's Afghanistan address:
COOPER: [In his address, Obama] said it's time "to focus on nation building here at home." ... Nation building is not officially what the U.S. says they're doing in Afghanistan, but really as part of this counterinsurgency strategy, nation building is what the United States has been doing in Afghanistan for years.
ROBERTSON: It has. If you look at where surges had the best successes, towns in Kandahar and some of the towns in Helmand, it's because there's been security and that's allowed to provide facilities for the mayor's office and for the provincial governor.
Things that they can't afford to do by themselves and get markets back up and running and provide security for street vendors to be able to come out to those markets. It's all these sorts of things that surge has provided for. FULL POST
France will start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, following a timetable similar to the one U.S. President Barack Obama announced, the French president's office said Thursday.
"This withdrawal will be done in consultation with our allies and with the Afghan authorities," the statement from Nicolas Sarkozy's office said.
All French soldiers could be out of Afghanistan by 2013, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told France Info radio Thursday. France has 3,935 troops in Afghanistan, according to the NATO mission there.
Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. would withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops by September 2012. That will leave just under 70,000 Americans there.
– CNN's Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.