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.