August 23rd, 2009
12:32 PM ET
11 years ago

Republican: Obama must lead on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that President Obama has not articulated a clear vision of the United States mission in Afghanistan. Sen. Richard Lugar added that once Obama’s top military officer in the country completes an assessment of troop levels, the president needs to assert leadership to get the American mission on the right path.

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked whether Obama has explained to the American people what the U.S. strategy is in the war-torn country. Lugar bluntly replied “No. And I think everyone waits for Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal to give, really, the outline of where we’re headed – how many troops and whatever else is going to be required.”

Citing recent polling suggesting the public is beginning to tire of the war in Afghanistan, Lugar had a bit of advice for Obama.

“The president really has to face the fact that his own leadership here is critical. He really can’t just leave this to the Congress, to Gen. McChrystal and say ‘folks, discuss this’ after the report comes in.”

Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin, who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, rejected the notion that Obama has not stated a mission in Afghanistan.

“Clearly the president is defining our mission to go after the terrorists,” Cardin said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “We didn’t choose this war. They attacked us. We need to make sure that Afghanistan – and, quite frankly, the border with Pakistan – is not a safe haven for terrorists. That should be our objective and we now need to know as far as resources to accomplish that mission.”

Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, disagreed with Lugar. “I think Obama has been strong and clear on Afghanistan,” Lieberman told King. “The president came in and basically recommitted to what he had said during the campaign last year – that his was a war of necessity, that we were struck from Afghanistan when the Taliban was in charge on September 11, 2001, and we can’t let the Taliban come back.”

Lieberman, who recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan with several other senators, also said Sunday it was clear Gen. McChrystal would be seeking additional troops on top of the additional 21,000 Obama has already authorized and which are starting to arrive in country.

Lieberman, who supported Republican Sen. John McCain during last year’s White House race, said he had not seen any political pressure on McChrystal not to request a significant number of additional forces for Afghanistan.

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Simon

    Republicans have zero credibility on war issues. The last Republican with brain one concerning foreign relations and war issues was Eisenhower. The conservative cowards are ignorant of history AND refuse to do the dying when the country needs them. Dear Republicans, Either put up or shut up!

    August 23, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Howard

    Obama is just not a "detail" kind of guy. We should have know whenduring the election his major platforms were "hope" & "change." One of his big problems on the healthcare front is a total lack of detail. Has anyone heard how much this will cost the "average 25 year old" or the "typical family of 4?" His only comment on cost is that everyone will have to pay their "fair" share, and he will pay for the difference by taxing the "rich".

    BTW, he seems to have time to have Nascar drivers and their cars on the WH lawn and do interviews with ESPN on his love of Nascar. All that "love of Nascar" seems a little politically contrived to me for an African American out of Chicago. Kind of like when John Kerry took the press along while he went "hunting."

    August 23, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Russ H

    Ride on career serviceman. I am retired military and I believe in what you are saying.

    August 23, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. 60's survivor

    Yeah – the republicans sure had a lot of insight getting us into the mire...oh its so convenient to sit on the sidelines and responsibility...all talk and none of it any good!

    August 23, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Ralph

    Andrew, you're right. You are a dumb liberal who fails to realize that 911 happenened due to the Clinton administration's failing to heed the signs and warnings. Ole Billy Bob was too busy playing cigar games with Monica I suppose but nonetheless, him and his liberal democrap cronies brough 911 to our shores. That's where the blame lies buddy boy and they will pay for it when they arrive in hell.

    August 23, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Julian

    Omg are u serious, One sentence...

    We are over there because, " We will dismantle and defeat the al-qaeda and tablian and to promote democracy."

    August 23, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. dreamer

    were was there leader in all this mess?o'ya he was on vaction alot....

    August 23, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Tony

    And eolufemi spells it out, you can't be happy that won an election you, many Democrats won and can't calm down. The Republicans deserved to lose the last election but we still need opposing views. If Obama does a good job they may control the white house 16 years best case scenario, If he does poorly it will be 4 worst case scenario. But if you think Republicans are going to go away to never be heard of and never win gain control again ever your wrong. This is why you are upset you cant be happy that won and policies will be mostly democrat based, it upsets you the slight possibility of a Republican winning in the future. Guess what it swings back and forth you will never have a system where one party is in control forever, you will always have opposition whether its the republican party or a new party of some sort get over it.

    August 23, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. John

    Scott l, where were you and Hugo and the rest of the CNN Independents(hahaha) at when GWB was killing thousands in Iraq and Afganastan the last few years? Not a word from any of you until now. Nothing to do with a Democrat being in office I'm sure.

    I've said it before. If you didn't complain about BUSH, nobody will care if you NOW complain about OBAMA. BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO CREDIBILITY.

    August 23, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. manhandler

    The problem is NOT just the republicans it is ALL the politicians that would have us over there fighting the most rediculous of wars. Where are peoples brains?.........out to lunch. Eight years and we're losing ground. And that's beside the point. Just like Iraq, why did Bush decide sending troops to Afghanistan would accomplish anything? To capture Osama? Give me a giant break. Is the idea there that if we win it;'s an end to terrorism? Give me an even bigger break. Terrorism is NOT in any one place. Most of 9/11 was planned right here in the good ol' USA with the perpetrators training at our own flight schools. We're broke....quit spending money and lives on this stupid war. GET OUT NOW!

    August 23, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Tim

    The Smart Republican Party that led us into not one but two wars in places that will never ever change. The first war to get Osama and not change the political structure of Afghanistan. The second war based on many lies and your defending the Republican Party? And your questioning the Democratic Party? What an intelligent perception.
    We've created massive more enemies than we killed.
    But lets don't forget that HEALTH CARE is to expensive and will not be given to all Americans. It's just ethically not possible.
    The Republican party has a serious disease. Greed and Control!
    The last 8 years has ruined the Republican Party and it's showing it's not getting any better.

    August 23, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Near Boston

    To Career serviceman,

    With all due respect to your name, please don't allow recent political pundits to taint your view of history.

    The war to end all wars (WW1) and WW 2, were demonstrations of successful military actions by the United States. WW1 was led by Woodrow Wilson as Commander in Chief – a Democrat. And, the Commander in Chief for WW 2 was Franklin Roosevelt , also a Democrat.

    Leadership in wars, is not political – it's the political policies that influence military action that is a problem – both Dems and Repubs.

    August 23, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Stanley Lehto Washington

    I see John king is getting his " right-wing politics accomplished with his phony " state of the union" show on Cnn. I see he only publishes the views of his republican counterpart in his articles. Anytime during the show when a democrat speaks John King cuts him off and doesn't let the voice their opinions whenever John King starts to hear something he doesnt like. What a balanced journalist he turned out to be.
    Stan Yelm, Wa

    August 23, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. Issano in Florida

    These nutty Republicons still trying to give advice on the war. Had they given George Bush the right advice on the war in Iraq, we would not be there today.
    The American people do not want the party of NO giving any advice to this current administration. The former administration has set this country back decades.
    The policy of the Republican party are too reckless, dangerous, and extreme. the cannot be trusted. Tom Ridge's recentstatement proves that.
    Let's get health care signed without them. Had the Republican been in office, they would have done health care without the Democrat's support. Oh I forgot, they did nothing for health care when they were in office for the past eight years.

    August 23, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Dan, WA

    Sen. Lugar, what strategy Obama can make. He has nothing in this head. He has no experience. Perhaps he will ask his number of czars who are un-elected and/or un-endorsed officials. This is the problem here. We have a man in the white house who doe snot know anything except community organizing.

    August 23, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Pat F

    @ RIck, amen, brother, on all counts.

    Obama has left Iraq high and dry, and the body count is rising, and he hasn't got the slightest notion what to do in Afghanistan.

    Obama: No international experience, and a socialist domestic agenda. One term and GONE-sville – start house-hunting, Barry!

    August 23, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Garland H. Green Jr.

    I have begun to wonder if this the meaning of Democracy: "Pick and snipe." The only thing we have left is what is printed on our money. "In God We Trust", since I surely can see in our leaders we can not. I am fed up with the entire bunch of you. I think I will watch the NFL network instead of listening to you. At least there are rules and someone to make sure they play fair. -G

    August 23, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Ron of Chicago

    I need to correct my earlier comment about Afghanistan's "important export." While I was correct in principle, I was wrong in detail. Afghanistan is the most important producer of opium (not cocaine) in the world. While the Taliban originally banned the production of opium, they eventually retracted that ban when they realized that they, too, could profit from its production.

    It's sad that so much debate here has deteriorated to name calling and to shifting blame from one side to the other rather than attempting to recommend solutions that both Republicans and Democrats can agree to. For example, how about making the growth of opium legal in Afghanistan and making the U.S. government the sole purchaser
    of the product. The U.S., then, in turn can destroy it or use it for scientific research. My guess is that we would be spending less on that deal than we are now fighting a useless war with substantial loss of life. And, we would be able to divert the flow of the opium trade from the underground drug trade and drug addicts while supporting a viable agricultural industry for Afghanistian (where little else can be grown for any kind of profit). In a way, it's a "cash for clunkers (opium)" program

    August 23, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Nutjob

    My company and employees will support wholefoods now more than ever. When we decided that we had to lay off two employees becouse of how business has slowed down so much, I took a look at two cars in our parking lot with obama / biden stickers on them and decided to let them go first. I guess this is the kind of change they are looking for, why let my good employees suffer for the mistake they made.

    John Schwab
    Los Angeles Waterproofing

    August 23, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. JonDie

    From 2002 to 2009, Bush did NOTHING in Afghanistan, so now suddenly Obama has to lead? Well Sen. Lugar, President Obama actually IS leading...unless your guy W.

    August 23, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Fasthke in New Mexico

    Obama is an intelligent man, and there's no doubt in my mind that he would make a great community organizer or foreign ambassador. A great leader, he's not. Poor old GWB couldn't speak well and was a terrible president in many ways. That doesn't make Obama a good leader, it just defines GWB's presidency. Many of us are now realizing that when we voted for Obama we were acting out our anger at the republicans and at GWB. It was a bad decision, and Obama is not living up to our expectations, in fact, his real agenda is becomming quite apparent. It's disturbing to see his lack of insight, leadership, patriotism, and vision. It's also disturbing to see his racism, stubborness, socialists economic theory, and to listen to him drone on and on about how he knows what's best for our country.

    August 23, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Gerry

    NO NO NO to the party of have NO clue, can't keep NO promise & have NO idea. The Afgan was was because of 911. Get thing right first.

    August 23, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Deuce

    Right on the Front-Line... Wimp...

    August 23, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. W L Jones

    We did not pull all our Troop out of Korea and they apprieated to this day but we gradually let them take over there own destine and boy look at them now. If history teach you anything both Irap and Aghanstan can take a que from them we will stand by you if you help yourself.

    August 23, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Sally

    If people don't remember that Bin Laden with his terrorists in Afghanistan was behind the 9/11 disaster, then something is seriously wrong. We can't walk away without empowering Bin Laden all over again. Besides, I think Obama has articulated quite adequately our concerns in Afghanistan. Of course, he has had a tanking economy to deal with... thanks to eight years of the incompetent Bush who started a totally unnecessary war in Iraq!

    August 23, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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