WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, said Sunday that, regardless of the political situation on the ground in Afghanistan, President Obama should give U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal the 40,000 additional American troops that McChrystal has reportedly requested.
In an interview that aired earlier on CNN's State of the Union, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leading challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, called into question the ability of the Afghan government to partner with the United States if Karzai wins an upcoming run-off election as many senior Obama administration officials expect.
Asked about Abdullah's comments, Hatch told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, "I think it's taken too long," for Obama to make a decision about troop levels in Afghanistan.
"We have to worry about corruption but we also have to work with whoever is put in there," Hatch also said, making a reference to the unsettled political situation in Afghanistan caused by fraud in the country's presidential election last month.
"And whoever is put in there, you're going to find some corruption," the Utah Republican added. "The fact of the matter is I think we ought to rely on the hand-picked general, by President Obama, Gen. McChrystal, who said that we've got to have more troops."
Hatch added that he thought some of Obama's critics have been "hypercritical" in suggesting that the president was delaying a decision about Afghanistan until after two upcoming gubernatorial elections early next month in Virginia and New Jersey. Some political observers have suggested that the two races could be viewed as a referendum on Obama's presidency so far.
"I hope that's not the case," Hatch said of suggestions that Obama's drawn-out decisionmaking process on Afghanistan could be motivated by domestic political considerations.
But Hatch also said it was "a mistake to continue to not make this decision" given the advice the White House has reportedly received from McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.
Two Democratic senators were more generous towards Obama in their assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said he thought it was "frankly too early to tell" whether another Karzai term would lead to more corruption. Therefore, Brown said, Obama should continue to listen to his many advisers and make the Afghanistan troop level decision "in the most sobering way possible."
Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson said the U.S. relationship with the Afghan government "has to be a partnership. There's no question about it when we have that many American troops stationed there, fighting there, and, unfortunately, dying there." Nelson told King that he didn't think the capability of the Afghan government would be known until next month's run-off election.