December 6th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
9 months ago

Kyl: By announcing date, Obama has 'complicated' Afghan war

Sen. Kly said Sunday that 'the whole object of war is to break the will of the enemy to fight.'
Sen. Kly said Sunday that 'the whole object of war is to break the will of the enemy to fight.'

Washington (CNN) – The number two Republican in the Senate said Sunday that his party generally supports President Obama’s recently announced surge strategy in Afghanistan. But, added Sen. John Kyl, by announcing a date to begin to draw down the additional U.S. troops sent as part of the surge, the president had “complicated matters” in the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.

After roughly three months of deliberation, President Obama announced last week that he has ordered 30,000 additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan. As part of the new strategy, Obama also informed the nation and the world that the U.S. would begin to remove those troops in July 2011, depending upon the conditions on the ground in the war-torn country.

Republicans “are supportive of the president,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “They want this mission to succeed very much and we will do everything we can to support his policy.”

But, Kyl quickly added, “I think he has complicated matters by having this firm beginning-of-withdrawal date. He said it is chiseled in stone. But what happens the day after [Obama’s drawdown date] and how many troops come down, I think is the question. And, as long as that’s condition-based, it has a chance of succeeding.

“The reason I said it complicates matters is that in war, will matters. In fact, the whole object of war is to break the will of the enemy to fight.”

Kyl added that in order to win support from the Pakistanis, the Afghans, and NATO, the U.S. needs to demonstrate a firm commitment to fighting the war in Afghanistan.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein disagreed with Kyl about the president’s decision to announce a drawdown date.

Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on State of the Union that she was satisfied with the mid-2011 date.

“I think it’s a transitional period,“ Feinstein told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “I think it sets a goal. I think it enables an evaluation. I think it’s a concentrated sense of attention. And, if you can begin to remove troops, that will happen.”

Earlier on State of the Union, Obama National Security Adviser James Jones described the mid-July 2011 as a “ramp” or “glide slope” rather than a “cliff.”

“We are here to see that Afghanistan succeeds,” Jones told King.

Jones also said Sunday that a more complete draw down in Afghanistan will be based on the Afghan government’s progress in terms of its capability to provide security.

In a taped, exclusive interview set to air Sunday afternoon on CNN’s Amanpour, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country would make its best effort in the next two years but at the same time cautioned that international community should be patient with Afghanistan as it attempts to stand up its own security and policy forces. Karzai estimated that it would take until 2014 for his government to be able to secure the country.

soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Jim T

    Setting a deadline is the right thing to do. Most people and organizations work harder when there is a deadline to meet and this includes the Afghan government. The evidence is that similar deadlines worked in Irag. The Iragi's understood that it was not a bluff and it was time to "fish or cut bait". I am a Republican that believes our party should stop complaining and get behind the President. Our constant complaints strengthen and give hope to the terrorists that American resolve will fail.

    Sincerely,
    A moderate republican that doesn't like Rush L

    December 6, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Bill

    Guess Sen. Jon Kyl like his fellow Arizonian wants to stay in war and occupy another nation for 100 years. The best expense of tax payer dollars.

    Republican motto: "We'll spend all your money and bankrupt ourselves to protect you from terrorists, while you may die or go bankrupt from lack of health care or insurance, we won't protect you from disease."

    December 6, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Al Zutavern

    If Sen. Kyl wants to see an open-ended committment to Afghanistan, let's see the proposal on how to pay for it or for that matter the president's plan. How much blood and treasure would he spend to fight the few dozen al-qaida that remain in Afghanistan?

    December 6, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. S M R

    When the Republican's are not in power, it seems like they are hell bent on being negative about EVERYTHING. BED WETTERS!!!

    December 6, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. steven harnack

    I don't see what the problem is. If the Taliban want to lie back and wait for that date fine. We'll see what the Afghanis can accomplish and what it is that they want. If they make good progress the Taliban will become irrelevant.

    December 6, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. gso-chris

    It's quite simple: The president is saying "Karzai; Afghanistan, you've got 18 months to get your act straightened out. If you can't get your house in order and show some progress, then we're out." There's only so much we can do, so many insurgents that we can kill. Either things are going to change in 18 mos., or they are not. The surge in Iraq was only supposed to last 6 mos, but of course, conservatives never find fault with Bush's war of choice!

    December 6, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Death Panel Sarah

    He's the number 2 republican??
    I thought they were all number 2!!!

    December 6, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. MARK

    Anymore, everything seems to be "complicated" to Republicans. I'm soooo sick of the GOP!!!

    December 6, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Katelyn

    Republicans love to "complicate" everything.

    December 6, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Think First Next Time

    Here, Sen. Kyl, are a few other ideas for you next Afghanistan speech:

    By Announcing Date, Obama Has Made It Possible To Get Democratic Support Needed To Make Additional Troops Even Possible

    By Announcing Date, Obama Has Eviscerated Taliban Propaganda That America Seeks To Stay in Afghanistan Forever

    By Announcing Date, Obama Has Put the Afghan Government on Notice That They Must Step Up to The Plate Now

    Just a few ideas, anyway.

    December 6, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Right wingnuts are as dumb as a woonsocket

    Kyl's brain is chiseled in stone. When the president gets advice from military leaders, and makes a presidential decision, right wingnut senators who are clueless, should just shut up.

    December 6, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Desmond

    When are more "Americans" going to recognize that they are finally lucky to have a president who is extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, compassionate, strong, patriotic; who takes the trouble and the time to thoroughly consult and learn the facts, etc.

    Of course he is right to give a time line. Can't the likes of Kyle understand that the President is not stupidly compulsive about the said time line but is used to setting and committing to goals, etc. Do they not understand that "begin to return" does not mean "will have fully returned", that decisions will depend on "the situation on the ground", etc.

    I guess you Americans can't believe your luck after all these years of being "Bushed". How do the Kyles of this world get into Congress?????

    December 6, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Eisener

    I voted for Obama. I want a timeline. I want that Afghans to know that it is now or never. We will never "eliminate" the Taliban, we can attempt to build a strong enough Afghanistan that they have the option to choose to withstand the Taliban. If we can do it in the give time frame – great. If it fails: enough is enough.

    December 6, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. JonDie

    In 2001, Bush & Cheney sent our soldiers to hunt for bin Laden and to defeat the Taliban.

    However, by the begining of 2002 and all the way until late 2008, Bush & Cheney abandoned our troops in Afghanistan with no military leadership, no mission and no strategy.

    And Jon Kyl and John McCain rubberstamped these Bush-Cheney mistakes that may have literally cost us any chance of defeating the Taliban no matter what Obama does.

    So I don't much care what these senile, old fools have to say about anything, especially anything about Afghanistan.

    December 6, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Senator John Kyl R-Arizona Is Just As Disingenuous As Senator John McCain R-Arizona Is. They Both Are Pretty Much Chewing The Fat Most Sundays On These Reprehensable Commentary Shows And Giving Reckless Perspectives On Decisions They Don't Have To Make.

    December 6, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    "...break the will of the enemy to fight..."
    Well, yes, but what about OUR will to fight? All I have seen for years in most US citizens is a will to finger "Peace, Man" signs blame the Republican Party for advocating war rather than "nation building," for which I suppose we are expected to receive Manna and Blessings. (Eternally,)

    Obama is a very great politician: review the fire of his election.
    However, even a great master of political manipulation cannot sit on both sides of every fence he encounters. I believe he is trying to appease every USA voter with sending troops but adding, "don't worry, it won't be for very long...we're leaving soon!"
    Obama cannot safely straddle this political/military fence. It's as if the rider of a jumper horse races toward a fence telling the horse, "don't go all the way over–stop right in the middle of the fence."
    I truly cheer the President for sending the troops.
    Sometimes I just wonder what he's taking.

    December 6, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Right wingnuts are as dumb as a woonsocket

    By giving a tentative withdrawal date, Kharzai knows he has to get his corrupt regime in order. I find it hard to believe that al-Quaida will be laying low when they are pursued by over 100,000 angry GI's.

    Give it up, wingnuts, you got nothing.

    December 6, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Debbie

    The GOP idea to hang on to a no exit strategy and wars with no date target have proved to be pointless. We've gained nothing. Shed a ton of US blood. For what?

    We have been at war in Afganistan for 8 years and we still do not have Osama and that was after we had him within our sights. That failure led to escalation of Taliban and AlQaeda.

    Setting a timeframe tells Afganistan and Pakistan that the money train is going to end. Their choice is to either step up to the plate or return to ancient ongoing tribal warfare as third world countries.

    December 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Cindy

    Karzai has had 8 years to stand up its own security. Obama is giving him 3 more. Karzai needs to step it up.

    December 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    That's it. Simplify the enemy's plan-making ability by thelling them exactly when we're going to surrender and bug out with our tail between our legs. Way to go, Community-Organizer-in-Chief. BRILLIANT!!

    December 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. katiec

    Kyl and none of these hypocritical party of NOthing are privy to all
    the details, facts and information President Obama has.
    Thank God he took his time in making his decision. We would be
    in much better shape as a country if the previous administration had
    put more thought into their irresponsible actions.
    It would not matter what our president says or does.
    The republicans would bad mouth, distort, fight any decision.
    They are well on their way to becoming our countries most dangerous domestic terrorists.

    December 6, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Tony in Maine

    Mr. Kyl is not the President of the United States. Barack Obama is. Should Mr. Kyl have similarly criticized GW Bush for anything, he would have been branded unpatriotic. That's how the Bush aministration dealt with critics. But he's criticizing the Obama administration which is correctly dismissing his ravings as those of a partisan hack.

    December 6, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Howard

    the General gave him the strategy, 3 months ago. How much of this time was just conducting polls, and developing messaging?

    December 6, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. Go back to Arizona Mr. Kyle..........

    Senator Kyle,
    If there must be war, I'd rather win a war based on true premises with withdrawl date. Then lose a war based on false premises without a withdrawl date. The oil commercialized war for profit based on false premises wasn't a success simply because the withdrawl date was excluded.

    December 6, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Allan

    This is the clown who a week ago said we shouldn't pay for the war. I really don't need more of his opinions.

    December 6, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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