(CNN) – As a leading conservative voice is calling on Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign his post, the RNC is defending the chairman's recent statements that appeared to criticize of the United States' war effort in Afghanistan and suggest the conflict there may be unwinnable.
"The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people," RNC Communications Director Dough Heye said.
In a speech at a Republican fundraiser in Connecticut Thursday, a YouTube video shows the RNC chairman declaring of the war in Afghanistan, "This was a war of Obama's choosing."
"This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he added.
Updated 2:30 p.m. ET with a statement from Michael Steele. Read the statement after the jump.
That statement is at odds with the fact the United States led a NATO coalition with overwhelming public support to invade Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and has prompted William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, to publicly call on Steele to step down.
"There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party," Kristol wrote.
Speaking at the Connecticut fundraiser, Steele also appeared to suggest any conflict in Afghanistan may be unwinnable.
"Well if [Obama's] such a student of history, has he not understood that that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops," Steele he said in expressing a position that is not only at odds with the White House but most of the Republican Party as well.
Heye said Steele was making the point that "[t]he responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President."
"Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan," Heye added.
Heye also pointed out that "nowhere did Steele say or suggest that (a) we shouldn't be there, (b) we can't win or (c) he didn't support the surge."
Update: Steele issued a statement Friday afternoon. Read it below.
“As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I proudly remember standing with Maryland National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East and later stood with the mothers of soldiers lost at war. There is no question that America must win the war on terror.
“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.
“As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”