October 18th, 2009
10:34 AM ET
5 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. From the Island...

    Lets see here...al quaeda is on the run, Taliban is not ruling the country, Afghani citizens can vote for their president, the country is on the democracy road, women are not oppressed...troops were fighting a winning war...all of this inside of 5 yrs after Sept 11 2001.

    Folks, dont take your eyes off the ball here...troops are dying in huge numbers because of this administration's poor judgement and lack of solid decision making. The current admin is trying to use the same tactics from Iraq in Afghanisatn. After the Taliban and ALQ were sent running for the hills (literally), the Afghan war made the turn from conventional to 'winning hearts and minds' war, which is what was needed. Now BHO admin wants to take the Iraq surge template and plop it over Afghanistan? May as well take the Vietnam or Korea template and do the same thing...it is NOT the right one!

    The adminstration needs to LISTEN to the commanders on the ground, the senate/house need to give the commanders what they need to let the soldiers, sailors, airman and marines WIN the war, not dabble in it.

    And the idea of 'we should just get out' is absurd. This isnt a broken marriage...you cannot just quit it. This is war, people!

    October 18, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Useyourbrain!!

    Perhaps if the Afghan people would come out from hiding and fight their own war, we could bring our troops home....just saying...

    October 18, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Scott, Tucson

    This matter of troop increases been on the table since August, so much for Obama being able to make a simple decision.

    Why not do this... declare victory in Afghanistan, pull all the troops out and when the Taliban take control of the nation and make themselves and their whereabouts known to all....bomb the bejesus out of them.

    October 18, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. tate

    Its sad he will rush on every plan trying to destroy this country and turn us into France. When it come to our boys and girls dieing he wants to wait. Give him more time to fly around and bad mouth his country.

    October 18, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Mickey, NY

    That's because the GOP politicians are too stupid to ask ANY questions.

    October 18, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. chubby

    Yep, he probably asked about sending troops overseas and how it would affect his Nobel Peace Prize. His personal agenda is more important to him and his administration than the good of the country. Time for CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN in 2010 and 2012.

    October 18, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Chris

    The trouble with the Right Wing is they have no consistent message. One moment they attacking Obama as an indecisive wimp and the next they're declaring him an iron-fisted tyrant! Remember when Bush was in office, any discussion about war fell into two – and only two – categories. Either you stood behind whatever the President did and "Stayed the Course" or, if you so much as questioned the President , you were an unpatriotic treasonous coward who showed weakness and division to our enemies and wanted to "cut and run."

    October 18, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. questions? you mean you can't just fight?

    WOW, a commander that wants information, must confuse all that are participating to have an inquisitive mind participating

    what a waste and how harmful the last 8 years have been

    October 18, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Amen, 8 plus years in Afghan with no questions asked. It's about time someone start asking question about Karzai and his so called government. We need to know exactly who Karzai is instead of who we want him to be before sending more troops or remaining in the region.

    October 18, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Ruty

    Bring our troops home and send Bush and Cheney . It's their war. Or better yet, send their kids with them.

    October 18, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. tony

    We should send more troops if the war is winnable when more troops are sent. Sending more troop to maintain a stalemate is not in our best interest. We have been doing that for eight years. We have been fighting this war in Afghanistan without a clear strategy for too long, mainly because the attention of the previous administration was focused on Iraq. We can keep sending troops, but it will not do us any good if there is no strategy or possibility of success and we don't have the support of the Afghan people.

    October 18, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Hadji from Ladji

    I just noticed something. If George W. Bush shaved his head and was painted black, he would look like Obama's older brother.

    October 18, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. pat

    the backlash about not sending 40,000 more troops as fast as possible is just the opposition's way of saying they want this administration to make the same mistakes they made – this will make them "feel better" about what they didn't do.

    October 18, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Thomas

    I would like President Obama answer the same questions President Bush never did.

    1. What is the objective of the AF conflict?

    2. How will we measure progress/lack of progress?

    3. What is the exit criteria for success or failure?

    The first question, still has not been answered.

    October 18, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Jim

    What a pile of crap!!! Thios administration would have you believe they are the only one's that have done anything. But look at the record so far and what has been accomplished? The only accomplishment so far is that we now owe more than we as a country have ever owed!!!! This and pushing for health care that his owe people say will increase the amount owed is great accomplishments!!! Have a good couple of years and maybe you can make enough people believe your crap to reelect you. But do it without me!!!!!

    October 18, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. D. Tree

    Obama campaigned on changing strategy in Afghanistan, so no one should be surprised when he does.

    America cannot afford these wars anymore. Its better to fund a larger covert ops program and bring our troops home.

    October 18, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. victim of republican greed

    Obama sent over 20,000 troops to Afghanistan in March to cover the holes in Bush's handling of the war there. Enough is enough.

    October 18, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. terry,va

    To Enough already....Tell me what I lied about! Obummie said he "was going to fight the war of necessity"'. He is looking to cut and run. He said he would close Gitmo by years end and he has no plan on how to do that, he said pass the stimulus plan and unemployment wouldn't go above 8%, he said he wouldn't raise taxes on those making under $250,000 and his health care plan clearly will tax the middle class, he said he would unite us instead of divide us (polls indicate we have never been more divided...even more than under W.). He is making speeches for the gays but have not done anything other than speak. His speeches are fine but we need action not words!!! He is on the path to one and done and that will be fine with me if he doesn't get a spine.

    October 18, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. B

    If Obama commits to more troops in this Afghanistan War, it will become
    the end of his great campaign promises to make positive changes right here.

    Afghanistan is being governed by a corrupt leaders and we will not find success working with them. It is a black hole and there is NO VICTORY or win in it !

    We need to -Nation Build- right here.

    October 18, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Rick

    The administration planning strategy and evaluating tactics in washington and determining requirements of people on the ground in the battle – just like Vietnam. I'm guessing after lots more dead troops and a retreat with our tail between our legs (like vietnam) somehow clinton and emmanuel will blame this on Bush, too. (read her article this AM if you don't think it is coming). Honesty and transparency in washington... change we can believe in. Right

    October 18, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Dan, TX

    This is joke. It is their weakness that they cannot listen to their commanders on the ground, What a shame. Rahm Emanuel is covering it up saying they are asking questions which were never asked. He is a joker.

    October 18, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Maria - Proud Democrat

    Well while you guys in the White House are trying to not be rushed and have hurt feelings about being asked questions that NEED to be asked.......our Sons and Daughters are dying because they don't have the necessary support they need.

    So forgive us if we don't feel sorry for you but you need to either GIVE them the support they need to get the job done and be safe.....or get them out of there NOW!

    No more excuses .........enough is enough!

    October 18, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Brent

    It's nice to see we now have a Commandr in Chief who is competent enough to analyze the situation and ask the tough questions. Maybe if Bush had done a little thinking early on, Obama wouldn't need to be spending his time fixing Bush's mess.

    October 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. MariaMIA

    I agree, no more troops. Asking questions is the mark of a person who wants to learn and understand. Bravo, Mr. President! Once the questions have been answered, we can bring our men and women home. Let Afghanis deal with Afghanistan. Ignore them, and place emphasis on home and our security instead. No more ego-tripping; the terrain there is too rough. Let's just leave and ignore them. Let's figure out a way to control heroine addiction at home, so they have no more money for Taliban, al Quaedda, whatever. They'll take care of themselves or blow themselves up .

    October 18, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Vocal Majority

    Little wonder if President Obama is asking questions never before asked, after 8 years of wasted time in Afghanistan when W failed and refused to pursue a real enemy there – in the form of Al Queda and the Taliban – in favor of wasting many times more men and women, equipment, money and other resources where the enemy wasn't – in Iraq – just because he wanted to. Our troops, no matter how egregiously committed by that wastrel, have performed tremendously and without peer. Think how we could have resolved the conflict with those who actually attacked the U.S. if W hadn't wasted the effort. There wouldn't be any need to ask new questions now.

    October 18, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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