October 18th, 2009
10:34 AM ET
9 years ago

Emanuel: Obama asking questions that have never been asked

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A top aide to President Barack Obama said Sunday that the administration’s thorough review of the U.S. military’s continued involvement in Afghanistan includes asking a number of questions about the Afghan government’s ability to function and provide peace and security on its own.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the White House is not only looking at the question of how many troops are necessary to accomplish the American mission in Afghanistan but also: “Do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process - that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?”

“This is a much more complex decision” than just determining the appropriate level of troops, Emanuel told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“It’s clear that basically we had a war [in Afghanistan] for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift,” Emanuel also said, “that we’re beginning at scratch, just at the starting point, after eight years – and that there’s not an [Afghan] security force, an [Afghan] army, and the types of services that are important for the Afghans to become a true partner.”

Echoing comments from Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry, Emanuel said it would be “reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if, in fact, you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country.”

“There’s a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked,” Emanuel said of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for the last eight years. Emanuel added that Obama won’t be rushed into making a decision without asking the firm questions and challenging the assumptions behind the questions.

With the results of a recent Afghan presidential still unclear because of concerns about election fraud, Emanuel said that now there are two options for resolving the election – either a run-off between the two top candidates or a negotiation between the two.

The end result must be “a legitimate and credible” government that the Afghan people view as valid, Emanuel said.

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Fred in VA

    It's just politics.

    October 18, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. HJA

    It's about time someone asked the questions. Sending troops without knowing the end result will last is stupid. The Afghan gov't must be able to control the situation and must be legit in the eyes if its people.
    The US supported Batista in Cuba, the Shah in Iran, Saddam in Iraq AND the Taliban (when fighting Russia)in Afghanistan. We need to stop this blind support and think about who our friends really are.
    No More Troops!

    October 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. SamSixpack

    It all sounds so official.

    How is it that after nine months in office Obama is just now looking at the situation in Afghanistan? Where was he while the Afghan elections were being rigged?

    He has plenty of time to campaign.

    Something smells like fish.

    October 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. ICARE

    So sad to hear that the guy that flew Air Force over New York was fired. His pictures are going to be cherished for a long, long time....

    October 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Doug

    Why won"t anyone just say it
    The afgan war is the second largest stimulus package we have
    80,000 more troops means more jobs at home and congress wont say no

    October 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Reformed Republican

    Gotta love it!

    After 8 years of a GOP intellectual box of rocks with an action plan of "Ready, Fire!, Aim" we finally have a POTUS that THINKS THING THROUGH first!

    Get used to it rethuglicons, no knee jerk "War First" out of this Prez....

    October 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. vic nashville , Tn

    Afghan is real mess

    Obama should not rush

    October 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. diana

    Whether America admit it or not. Voting for Obama was the most intelligent thing they ever did. This is another reason to legitimately claim that The Democrat is keeping America and their troop safe. Because being reckless and a cowboy like Bush is not the answer. BY THE WAY WHY IS HE NOT SENDING HIS OWN CHILDREN TO HIS WAR THAT HE CREATED IN IRAQ. AND SO IS DICK CHENEY. THAT LYN CHENEY IS ONE COWARD HYPOCRITE. IF SHE'S REALLY IS TOUGH WHY DON'T SHE USED IT ON HER DADDY'S WAR.

    October 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. tom genung

    you guys give me soooo many reason NOT to watch you. the story
    about subject:: emanuel interview. although the interviewer asked
    some – SOME – tough questions of emanuel, it's apparant you are
    combating the liberal image, the "forming public opinion" face, and
    editorial prerogative. i check in on you from time to time. you are
    changing, but not enough to secure me any more than before.
    further, the piece on wilbon's "opinion" of the limbaugh story. the race
    card is sooo tatered. black culture makes me anti black culture.
    wilbon is a racist, a bigot, and a self serving black man. pass.
    and you guys contribute. do release all you staff – maybe half will
    do. thanks for offering me this moment. tom genung

    October 18, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Biased

    I am sorry, but is this the new talking point this week? It seems we are hearing this "new theme" from several sources. Now the troops have to wait for Obama and the WH to see who or whether this leader who the US manipulated into being chosen as leader in the first place, is credible? This new line of stalling a decision is unbelievable.

    October 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. diana

    SamSixpack . Guess what he's prioritizing what America needs first as of now the economy and health care are the most important thing on the list. Maybe you should be a president and do what he's doing.

    October 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    AND after 8 years of good ol boy ,shot from the hip deplomancy
    we now have an administration asking the right questions
    what a world we live in " some learn how to ask and others just geat rich on the backs of the people"
    thank you Mr.Obama for trying to make it right

    October 18, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Desmond

    Way to go! Obama, solid thinking. never mind crackpots like Failin Palin.

    October 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. annie against biased news

    What's obama thinking about – how long will it take to destroy our troops in afghanistan?

    October 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Lynne

    SamSixPack: How is it that during eight years leading the Afghani War, pres. Bush never sat down and intelligently and rationally looked at the strategies and resourcing of the war??

    How is it that after more than three years screwing up the Iraq war, Bush allowed himself two and a half months to decide on the request before he sent the requested troops to Iraq?

    Bomb first and ask questions MAYBE is another flawed policy of the republicans.

    October 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Independent Senior in Bandon, Oregon

    There is only ONE ANSWER for the Afghanistan question.

    Get the heck out of Afghanistan!

    We cannot "win" this war. Winning wars is not possible anymore.

    There are enough enemies being born, brought up, and shoved off to fight as teenagers for the Taliban or al Qaeda to last for a hundred years.

    October 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Marry

    Bravo, President Obama! You do something that should be obvious but has not been done in the past: Find out what the situation is and think before you act.
    The president is very impressive, standing up against special interest domestically (war profiteers, and the shoot first, ask questions later mentality) and to understand what is going on internationally. He includes the people that are involved and have to carry a responsibility for the development of a better future.
    So true, it is and has been “reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if, in fact, you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country.”

    October 18, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Steve

    Is he saying that the Afgan government is not credible and that therefore American troops must be withdrawn. That is what it sound like.

    October 18, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. terry,va

    Obummie is using any excuse in the world to backtrack on yet another campaign promise..."to fight the war of necessity". He can't keep voting "present" on national security issues and domestic issues. We've had enough of his speeches. Do something you spineless commander in chump. Do what you say and say what you mean.

    October 18, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Jimmy


    If anything smells like fish it's you rethugs smelling your rotting brains.

    You need to grow up and accept that conservatives like yourself are too dumb to have any correct answers in worldly affairs. It's just too big for you.

    October 18, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. g ontario

    afganistan was meant to be long drawn out profit war the war machine knew iraq would be short term profit you can only pay people not to kill you for so long more troops mean more profit, if afganistan was so important to the area, why aren,t the players in the area india,china.russia, putting in funds,its because they know its about profit

    October 18, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Joan

    The last administration totally ignored and dropped the ball on the war in Afghanistan and now they are giving advice to this administration on how to handle it!! Kind of ironic and hypocritical isn't it? If they were so smart why didn't they wipe out Al Queda and find Bin Laden during the last seven years? They allowed the Taliban to quietly regroup and Al Queda to spread under the radar and now they are outgraged that Pres. Obama hasn't solved this whole mess that they left for him. Every time a Republican leader or pundit opens his mouth to criticize what this administration is doing on the economy, health care, the wars, etc. I think "Why didn't you do something about it when you were in power?" It is almost funny to hear them talk through the sides of their mouths.

    October 18, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. james

    ..this is true, obama is asking questions that have never been asked....such as: "...why not supress oposition voices to ensure we can build a stronger perception of support for our agenda......why not shut up all oposition voices and critics and why not start with FOX news?"

    he is indeed asking questions that have never been asked.

    October 18, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Enough Already!!!!

    @terry,va October 18th, 2009 11:24 am ET
    Stop listening to Rush and Fox News ......It is a real World out here ...We welcome you to join Us **Now shut your Lying PIE HOLE !!!!

    October 18, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Jim in ATL

    It is not patriotic to expend American blood before Pakistan decides to go "all in" against the safe havens in their country or the Karzai government enacts much needed and promised reforms. Carrot stick. Set up a welfare state of endless american troops and american spilled blood, and neither happens. But faced with their own imminent destruction, Pakistan mounts an offensive, and Karzai delivers.
    Hammer-anvil. Pakistani offensive is the hammer. America is the anvil. Timing is everything in love and war.
    McCain has it wrong. Or put simply, Vietnam part 2

    October 18, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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