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Obama and Afghanistan

President Obama isn't abandoning Afghanistan like he did Iraq. According to FOX News, the U.S. will keep over 5,000 troops in Afghanistan past 2016.

President Obama announced Thursday he will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, in a stark reversal from earlier pledges to end the war on his watch -- though Republicans still questioned whether the residual force will be enough to support Afghan forces and U.S. allies.

The decision follows months of appeals from military leaders to extend the drawdown timeline. And it marks an acknowledgement that, despite claims Al Qaeda is on the run, militants continue to pose a serious threat to the country.

Obama originally had planned to pull out all but a small, embassy-based U.S. military presence by the end of next year. But military leaders argued the Afghans needed additional assistance and support from the U.S. to beat back a resurgent Taliban and hold onto gains made over the last 14 years.

Under the new plan, the administration will keep the current force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, then draw down to 5,500 troops in 2017, at a pace still to be determined by commanders.

"While America's combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures," Obama said at the White House, in announcing his decision.

The president stressed that he does "not support the idea of endless war," but said Afghan forces are "not as strong as they need to be" and the Taliban have "made gains," leading to a "very fragile" security situation in key areas of the country.

He called the new plan the "best possibility for lasting progress in Afghanistan," while saying the U.S. mission "will not change" even after 2016.

Concerns about Afghan security were reinforced when Taliban fighters took control of Kunduz late last month, prompting a protracted battle with Afghan forces on the ground, supported by U.S. airstrikes. During the fighting, a U.S. airstrike hit a hospital, killing 22 people, including 12 Doctors Without Borders staff and 10 patients.

U.S. commanders have also expressed concern about Islamic State fighters moving into the country and gaining recruits from within the Taliban. And on another front, the U.S. military launched a major operation against two Al Qaeda camps in Kandahar earlier this month; one of the camps reportedly was almost 30 square miles. The operation included dozens of airstrikes.

This was a good decision by President Obama. I don't know if 5,500 troops is enough to get the job done, but I'm sure a future discussion will be had about that. The good thing is that the President is listening and understands that a complete pullout from Afghanistan would lead to a complete disaster.

NJ Republicans and Chris Christie

A new poll according to POLITICO shows that a majority of Republicans in New Jersey think that Chris Christie should end his Presidential campaign.

Now, according to a poll released Thursday morning, Christie is far from the preferred 2016 candidate even among his home state Republicans, the majority of whom think he should drop out of the presidential race.

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll of 781 New Jersey voters found that 67 percent believe Christie should drop out of the race. That includes 54 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents. Forty-one percent of New Jersey Republicans think Christie should keep running, as do 16 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents.

In an Rutgers-Eagleton poll in August, Christie came in second place behind Donald Trump in New Jersey, with 12 percent support. In December, he led the polls in New Jersey, with 32 percent support.

In the latest poll, Christie is only the first choice among 5 percent of New Jersey Republicans, putting him in a three-way tie for fifth place behind Trump (32 percent), Ben Carson (13 percent), Marco Rubio (13 percent) and Ted Cruz (6 percent). However, the sample size is just 273 Republicans, making the margin of error plus or minus 6.6 percentage points.

“Other Republican candidates have been led by Trump in their home states’ polls, but virtually all still come in second or third,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “Christie no longer has any home state advantage. The voters who know him best blame not his competition, but what Christie himself is doing — or not doing ..."

Chris Christie should probably drop out. He won't be the nominee and most people know that. Chris Christie's time was in 2012 and he let it slip by.