August 23rd, 2009
12:32 PM ET
5 years ago

Republican: Obama must lead on Afghanistan


WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that President Obama has not articulated a clear vision of the United States mission in Afghanistan. Sen. Richard Lugar added that once Obama’s top military officer in the country completes an assessment of troop levels, the president needs to assert leadership to get the American mission on the right path.

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked whether Obama has explained to the American people what the U.S. strategy is in the war-torn country. Lugar bluntly replied “No. And I think everyone waits for Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal to give, really, the outline of where we’re headed – how many troops and whatever else is going to be required.”

Citing recent polling suggesting the public is beginning to tire of the war in Afghanistan, Lugar had a bit of advice for Obama.

“The president really has to face the fact that his own leadership here is critical. He really can’t just leave this to the Congress, to Gen. McChrystal and say ‘folks, discuss this’ after the report comes in.”

Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin, who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, rejected the notion that Obama has not stated a mission in Afghanistan.

“Clearly the president is defining our mission to go after the terrorists,” Cardin said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “We didn’t choose this war. They attacked us. We need to make sure that Afghanistan – and, quite frankly, the border with Pakistan – is not a safe haven for terrorists. That should be our objective and we now need to know as far as resources to accomplish that mission.”

Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, disagreed with Lugar. “I think Obama has been strong and clear on Afghanistan,” Lieberman told King. “The president came in and basically recommitted to what he had said during the campaign last year – that his was a war of necessity, that we were struck from Afghanistan when the Taliban was in charge on September 11, 2001, and we can’t let the Taliban come back.”

Lieberman, who recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan with several other senators, also said Sunday it was clear Gen. McChrystal would be seeking additional troops on top of the additional 21,000 Obama has already authorized and which are starting to arrive in country.

Lieberman, who supported Republican Sen. John McCain during last year’s White House race, said he had not seen any political pressure on McChrystal not to request a significant number of additional forces for Afghanistan.

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Palin 2012 - 2014 1/2

    Palin would have nuked them by now!!!!

    August 23, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. JohnBoy

    Americans will vote out the empty suite in 2012.

    Americans will not allow our country to be defeated from within.

    Liberals, your time in the sun is almost over.

    You are going to see "Change you can believe in soon",

    Americans will change out the democratic party.

    Palin 2012

    August 23, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Palin 2012 - 2014 1/2

    Hey matt....listen to lynne!!!

    August 23, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Winston Hsia

    Do you really believe that the damage do in the past 30 years can be undone and more in 4 years ?? Be real.

    August 23, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Dick in Boston

    Lugar is one of our better senators. He gets along well with Gates. He supported the new administration's defense policies after the election, including Obama's department of defense appointments. So why, at this time, does he publicly question what is going on in Afghanistan? For the same reason other republicans are slamming every fiscal initiatives that had to be taken – - to generate as much negative press as possible to sink health care reform.

    August 23, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. MBSeattle

    Is this the same republican party that is tackling the health care reform issue?

    The last time we listened to these guys we invaded the wrong country and got bogged down in Iraq. Facts and accuracy is not their forte.

    Can we all say bipartisan government works best for the people.

    August 23, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Blue

    Bush/Cheney messed the area up sp badly, that it is going to take a few months to learn what they really did, so that it can be staraighten out.

    August 23, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. eolufemi

    Some of these opinions are ridiculous. The republicans wrecked the country's economy by getting us entangled in unnecessary wars and now they suddenly have "good advice". I can't take them seriously. And every time they open their mouths it becomes more and more clear that we absolutely need this president to succeed, so we never have to deal with republican nonsense again.

    Afghanistan is going to be failed regime for some time to come regardless of what is done. The only real question is whether we are really willing to babysit their democratic regime until it can stand on its own two feet. Personally, I think there terrorism threat is exaggerated, but I defer to the better judgment of my leaders on that one considering they have the information and I don't. So if we accept the argument that Afghanistan is at the center of this fight against terrorism, it stands to reason we will have to do what Obama has directed the military and state department to do. Stabilize the government, destroy the poppy fields, and improve economic conditions for the people while killing as many of their leaders as possible.

    August 23, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Everyone knows Bin Ladin is hiding in Saudi Arabia with his family,not some cave.The big oil deal was made,and now hes untouchable,and very useful as the boogyman they can pull out of their hat when ever they want to scare everyone.

    August 23, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Palin 2012 - 2014 1/2

    Hey Reality.... the troops haven't EVEN GOT THERE YET!!!!!

    August 23, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Hugo

    Good luck, like he has lead on healthcare, economy, education and of course his all time favorite racial profiling issues of the Boston Police Department. Gee, do you think old George Bush as dumb as he seemed maybe knew that invading Iraq would be a better fought war against the Islamic fundamentalists than trying to fight a war in Afghanistan where no invading army has EVER won?! You liberal stooges forget 911 and the American thirst for vengeance, it was not just the Republicans in the Congress that okayed heading off to war? Gee, amazing how you seem to forget that little tidbit factoid every time Obama finds his butt in the crack, no pun intended!

    August 23, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. John in WV

    The war in Iraq will prove to be the biggest reason for the problems in Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan, wounded our enemy, and then instead of closing in for the kill, we bombed Iraq and let the enemy in Afghanistan lick their wounds and regroup. This was done by the "mission accomplished" administration.

    August 23, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. democrat no mas

    Bush was a fullback. Give him the ball and he churns up the middle everytime. Obama is a quarterback. Reads the other side and tries to out finesse them. The problem is we need a coach. I've seen enough "Hail Mary" passes for one administration, and we're just getting started. Let's be honest and admit we put Obama in office about 4 years too early.

    August 23, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Nathan from Atlanta

    I am beginning to really hate republicans.

    August 23, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Andrew

    For all those that keep complaining that Obama is destroying everything because the economy is bad, some people can't get health care, the war isn't up to snuff or that all of our problems have been magically fixed:

    I could be wrong, I'm only a dumb liberal, but I was under the impression that Obama has only been in office for 8 months. Hell, he still has a whole extra month to go before he gets to really screw things up like Bush did when Sept 11 happened and he decided to shove us off to a war in a country that had nothing to do with it.

    How about if we just give the guy a little chance to actually implement the things that he said he would? How about if we at least just wait for a year before we start deciding that he is going to put us in concentration camps and take our guns away?

    Now, why should we give him a chance at all and not just sit and bicker about what he's doing? Because he says he's doing something, that's why. He's not spending his whole presidency on vacation as Bush did. He's putting an effort into making the country better. If it doesn't work, well that's fine. He was voted into office because people wanted to see if his policies would work and make a difference. I don't care if "he just barely made it", Bush didn't make it and we still had to stand by while he fouled up the country.

    Let's at least give Obama the chance to actually make something happen.

    August 23, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Susan

    Republicans. . . .still thinkiin what they got to say is gospel. Nitwit.

    August 23, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  17. Scott L

    @michael your hatred is pathetic.

    @lisa from tampa, it was obama's plan to divert troops from iraq to afghanistan, not Bush's...that is how he could disguise the iraq pullout.

    now that he has gotten his way he has no real plan at all in afghanistan and honestly if he tries to pull troops out of there to get them home, afghanistan will crumble.

    August 23, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. John

    Give me a break. A Republican giving War advice is like Gilligan giving Brad Pitt advice on how to pick up chicks. Take it at your own peril.

    Republicans = Losers

    August 23, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. steve

    The republican party plunged our country to unnecessary and reckless wars.
    Their advise is as flawed as their 8yrs under Bush/cheney crime regime.
    Lets face the fact every diplomat out there would tell you the president had put forward a better strategy in Aghan war than Bush did.
    Remember the war is 8yrs old and was neglected by Bush because of his rush to start another war in Iraq.

    August 23, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Ron of Chicago

    Afghanistan victory is impossible, just as it was in Vietnam. Obama is faced with same conundrum that Johnson faced four decades ago - winning an unwinable war. Afghanistan's most important export is cocaine. And who is one of the top importers of that product? The U.S. How can we possibly win there when we're also about destroying Afghanistan's top money-generator for the country's people and its Taliban? The conflict in Afghanistan is all about economics and we can't or are unable to fight that battle.

    August 23, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. ray

    had all the kkk's on the right like luger and his buddies in the senate had there way this country will be at war everyday . can some unkown power take these people away ? please.

    August 23, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Russ H

    What else is new for our Government. You have a President that came out of ACORN, 3 years as a Senator, a state that is filled with corruption and now he is suppose to advice our Military. It is just like when I was in the military, we had officers coming out of the Academy and OCS sending them in to combat to get us killed. If we do not have a stragey from our Generals we will lose this one also.

    August 23, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. Trollmaster

    Lugar is one of the very few credible Republican voices and he's right here. Obama does have to be more clear in Afganistian about what our goals are there.

    August 23, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. pakyaw

    The Republican president who presided over the war for six years did not do any better. From the best of my recollection, he was always vague, "trust me" attitude.
    Republicans had their turn to do something and didnt. Let Obama do his job, for america's sake and whatever he does, it will be better than what the lame duck republican pres did.

    August 23, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Ralph

    Barb, your moronic comment indicates that you are not mentally competent enough to even be on this board, let alone free to roam the streets. Obama is an empty shirt with no substantive ideas except relating to how he tries to keep himself popular in the public eye. Truth is, he is failing miserably at that too. I suggest that you try to get smarten up before making any further inane comments. Read a book instead of blindly following Obama and his pack of whiners. Then again, stay the way you are because you're going to get one heck of a wake up call in 2010 and an even bigger one on 2012. Now Barb, back to the supermarket so you can catch up on the important news of the day while you stand on the checkout line. Easy on that candy while you're studying.

    August 23, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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