October 4th, 2009
12:14 PM ET
5 years ago

'This is a strategic moment,' Jones says of Afghanistan


WASHINGTON (CNN) – One of President Obama’s top military advisers said Sunday that the United States is at a crossroads in its strategic approach to Afghanistan.

“This is a strategic moment,” National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union.

In March, the president announced a plan to send additional troops to the country in order to provide security for a national election and to begin to lay the groundwork for a larger footprint for the U.S. military operation in the country. The Afghan effort, many military observers believe, was under-resourced during the Bush administration because of the focus on the war in Iraq.

Jones pointed out that since March three developments have led the White House to reconsider its overall Afghanistan strategy: the national election occurred where there are questions about the legitimacy of the outcome; General Stanley McChrystal was named the new top U.S. commander in the country and McChrystal has concluded that the Taliban is stronger than previously thought; across the border from Afghanistan, the Pakistani government is doing much better than anticipated, changing the overall dynamic in the Afghanistan-Pakistan regional theater.

Jones also said Sunday that he did not believe Afghanistan was in danger of falling back into the Taliban’s hands.

“I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban,” Jones told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “And I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger – imminent danger - of falling.”

“The key in Afghanistan,” Jones also told King, “is to have a triad of things happen simultaneously.” In addition to security, the country needs economic development and “good governance and the rule of law,” Jones said.

On the issue of “good governance,” Jones said, “We have a lot more work to do and the Karzai government is going to have to pitch in and do much better than they have.”

Echoing an approach championed by Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jones also said Sunday that building up Afghanistan’s own police and army forces “will be an important part of whatever we decide to do.”

Jones also said President Obama is receiving a variety of different views on Afghanistan from his top military, national security, and foreign policy advisers.

“We will be examining different options,” Jones told King, adding that McChrystal, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will be willing to present different options and different scenarios to Obama.

“In the coming weeks, we will have vigorous debates. There will be alternative views presented and, I’m quite sure we’ll come up with the right solution.”

The president is currently in the midst of an involved, overall strategic review of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan. Some in the president’s inner circle, like Vice President Biden, are advocating for a counterterrorism approach that focuses on combating al Qaeda through the use of drones and special forces and would not involve the addition of more troops. Others, especially Gen. McChrystal, are advocating a broader counterinsurgency approach that would require a much larger U.S. military footprint in the country.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • James Jones • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. karen

    As I recall during one of the debates during the presidential debate, John McCain said he knew where Bin Laden was and how to get him. Why don't McCain share this so we can end this war or all we are hearing is the sound of crickets I though so McCain.

    October 4, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. SC-Dem

    “This is a strategic moment,” National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union.

    Something, John Grandpa McCain and the Bushies know nothing about.

    October 4, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Stu

    It won't matter how many troops we send. The U.S. hasn't fought a war to win a war since WWII. We are too busy trying to play politcal-correctness, foolishly expect zero casualties, foolishly expect zero "collateral" casualties, and we stop short of doing what we could do to simply eliminate the enemy in one fell swoop. Britain lost in the Revolutionary War because they refused to give up their "gentleman's war" tactics and adapt to the unconventional tactics of our fledgling military.

    The smartest thing we can do is to do whatever it takes to completely eliminate our need for oil. If that means HOA's have to tolerate solar panels so be it. If that means we build 100s of nuclear power plants, so be it. Once oil no longer makes the world go around, we can ignore those idiots in the middle east and let them kill each other off if they want to. Arm Israel to the teeth with every and all weapons, and unleash them if any nation dare attack. We've been holding them back too long.

    As for a Palestinian state, they already exist. It's called Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

    October 4, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. Dennis, Amarillo Texas

    It is totally clear, Obama intends to abandon Afghanistan. Obama spoke to McChrystal one time since he became President, and you could see in the picture Obama released yesterday of their meeting, the body language of Obama, counting his fingers, and McChrystal on the edge of his seat with a frawn on his face Obama was telling him:
    Don't embarass me in the press by telling the truth that he'd be blown off by Obama, Don't beg for troops, none are coming, Don't count on the Democrats for support, they've worked eight years to turn the public opinion against the war, and weren't about to stop tearing down our military now, and Don't complain over the next 10 – 12 months while we pull everyone out, just lick your wounds the best you can, and shut up about it. See you later, dude, I only had 25 minutes to flip you off.

    October 4, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. zap01

    All you anti-american bloggers probably weren't so "anti" whan Bush was in office. What happened to your support?

    October 4, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. zap01

    The only failure I have seen the current President fail at was getting bipartisanship from repulicans. Of course, teamwork from them was asking too much. If the repubs could fix this, why didn't they in the 8 Bush years?

    October 4, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Bush_Should_Be_In_Jail

    OBAMA ————— vs. ————— BUSH.

    To all those who Criticize Obama for the Chicago Copenhagen Effort:

    Obama flew to Copenhagen to Canvass for Chicago.

    Obama did Nothing Wrong in doing so.

    Obama tried, just like all athletes participate in Olympics, not everyone wins.

    Obama is Criticized by GOP for Canvassing for Chicago.

    Obama tried sincerely, but did not lie to the Nation that Iraq has WMDs.

    Obama did not cause 4300 US Troops to die in the Unjustified War.

    Obama's effort to bring Olympics to Chicago is NOT A CRIME.

    Bush Lied to the Nation causing 4300 US Troops to die IS A CRIME.

    Bush should be in Jail. ———————————————————–

    October 4, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Liberals are Hypocrites

    So a "former" general has a better grasp of the situation than CURRENT commanders in the field? Yeah, sure!

    October 4, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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