December 6th, 2009
11:16 AM ET
11 months ago

Obama adviser: Key date in new Afghan strategy 'not a cliff'

Washington (CNN) – President Obama’s national security adviser said Sunday that the administration’s announced date to begin the pull out of additional troops ordered by the president is a “glide slope” and a “ramp” to reducing forces, and not a “cliff” that would induce a precipitous decline in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“The president’s decision on 2011 has more do with a transition than anything else,” National Security Adviser James Jones said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Asked whether the White House was committed to removing troops even if the Afghan government and Afghan security forces weren’t fully capable by mid-2011, Jones explained that the date “is not a cliff, it’s a glide slope.”

“Certainly, the president has also said that we’re not leaving Afghanistan. We are here to see that Afghanistan succeeds. We can’t want this more than the Afghans do. If [Afghan] President Karzai leads his nation the way we think he can, [then] this is a very achievable objective.”

“2011 is not a cliff, it’s a ramp,” Jones reiterated when asked to respond to criticism that the president’s new strategy is flawed because it includes a withdrawal date, critical information for those who would do harm to U.S. interests in and around Afghanistan.

“Where’s the end of the ramp?” CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Jones.

“Well, the end of the ramp will be predicated on exactly how much progress we’re making with regard to” the capability of the Afghan security forces and Afghan government, Jones replied.

Jones resisted when asked to give a rough target date for withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“We have strategic interests in South Asia,” Jones said, “that should not be measured in terms of finite times. We’re going to be in the region for a long time. . . . We want this relationship to be, as we have with all struggling democracies, we want to be helpful.”

Jones’ comments Sunday about the administration’s announced date of July 2011 to begin to draw down additional forces in Afghanistan was a reaction to recent comments by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In a taped, exclusive interview, set to air Sunday afternoon on CNN’s Amanpour, Karzai said his government would try to build up its security forces and take control of the country as soon as possible.

“But the international community must have also the patience with us and the realization of the realities in Afghanistan,” Karzai also told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “If it takes longer, then they must be with us.”

During the interview with Amanpour, Karzai also estimated that Afghans should be capable of taking control of their country in five years, or sometime in 2014.

Related video: Karzai explains his five year estimate

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. buckwheat

    No. It is a pit.

    December 6, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    We don't won't no cliffs or slides. All we want is the destruction of the el quedo and 'BIN LADEN'. He will not be hard to find if you bring OLLIE NORTH back to the congressional witness stand. He tried to tell you morons once in the IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR. By orders of the Reagan-Bush era he was ordered to furnish Bin Laden with all the equipment, WMDs and money he needed to fight the Russians. Why do you think he told the congress why he needed a security system the government paid for. He said in quote, "Because of the scariest man alive on this planet". We need to capture, kill Bin Laden and if taken alive, him or North needs to tell us which of the high ranking officials gave him the orders. They need to be tried and executed. They are as guilty of 911 as Bin Laden.

    December 6, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    When we did the surge in Iraq it was done with no fixed end date. Hence the average Iraqi and a fair number of those fighting us decided we were the right side to back. Hence, some measure of stability was established, and remains even after the surge forces have been pulled out. One would think a Harvard Law School graduate would be smart enough to see that. Of course, he was probably an Affirmative Action admission.

    December 6, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Fitz in Texas

    And it was Al Gore that laughed at Ollie North during the Iran-Contra hearings when he tried years ago to warn us of Bin Laden.

    December 6, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Romney-hawk

    Romney is a chickenhawk. He keeps talking about war, while he and his FIVE SONS are on the ski slopes. Save it chickenhawk, we don't believe anything you say. Try sending your own sons in harms way before you send someone else's. You sorry excuse for a man.

    December 6, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    If Pakistan has the ability to develop something as complicated as a nuclear weapon they can find bin Laden. Think about it.

    December 6, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    we won't do like the soviet union did and piss of more people than we help . we can't change religion and we shouldn't even try .but we can help educate each new member of the world in the truth about why we are on this planet . ( to survive and do the best we can for our childrens future ) and not for greed and power over each other .

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE :)

    December 6, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. ICARE

    Just be quiet all of you!! I am glad Obama came out and announced a date. This will PUT SOME HEAT on McCrypt and his camp who blindly wanted to just keep chasing a ghost, no matter what the cost.... I'm sure some re-assessment will follow.

    December 6, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. ICARE

    Yes, throw in a date and let us use it to measure success.

    December 6, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Independant Vet

    NO it is just another of Barracks Big mistakes . Talking when he should be listing. .
    You call it anything you want . It was a big mistake.

    December 6, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Dan, TX

    His advisers are useless. Frankly they should not be interviewed netiher they should interfere in politics because they are not elected by the American people. Barack Obama needs them because he does not have any experience period.

    December 6, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Make the apprehension and/or killing of Bin Laden and his lieutenants the one and ONLY goal or just get out NOW!! Enough of this nation-building nonsense. That whole country is a lost cause.
    The Pakistani military could have Bin Laden dead or in shackles tomorrow if it really wanted to. Our government knows this.

    December 6, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |