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. Fasthke in New Mexico

    The very scary thought is that Obama may not understand the international scene well enough to articulate his mission in Afganastan. There is a US- Muslim jihadist war going on, of that there's no doubt, although the Islamist have lost already. It is incredible to me that Obama appears to believe that the Muslim nations can come together like a community. Al Qaeda controls Afganastan and the Iraq war has prevented them from controlling any other country in the Islamic world. We won the war, even though it may not appear that way. I'm not sure Obama understands this fact. The ethnic and religious divisions in the Islamic world prevent it from becomming a united force.

    August 23, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Cindy

    Ha! Don't fall for it President Obama! Sure, we American's have short attention spans. Yes, we've moved on to other topics of interest... like for instance, nobody fixates on the elections in Iran anymore. Doesn't mean we don't care, it just means we're just thinking about other things now.

    Obama's leadership is fine. It's the Republican's lack of leadership and maturity that I find appalling. All they ever do is complain.

    August 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Libertarian

    Look, we tried the Republican policies over 8 years. Six of those were completely controlled by them. Well....the proof is in the pudding. The country was in complete chaos in the final months of 2008. Banks failing, stocks falling through the floor, sky-high oil prices, and bonuses for those that caused it all. The Bush administration was LITERALLY sleeping with "Big Oil" – remember all those members of his Interior Department having affairs with Oil executives? And taking them on vacations so they could frolic in the islands????

    Please – can anyone tell me how or why the American people would want more of that? The republican policies failed for everyone except Haliburton and Cheney. I voted for change and the republicans that don't like can are STILL the minority. live with it!

    August 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. eolufemi

    Actually, I believe that republicans are fighting for their political lives. So if Obama succeeds, I expect independents and blue dogs to become the new second party in their absence. Which I have no problem with because those groups have America's best interests at heart.

    That said republicans are fools and they proved it by dragging us into an unnecessary war in Iraq and wrecking our country with deregulation of big business.

    So, I take all of their cackling with a grain of salt.

    When the president says SPECIFICALLY that the goal is to stabilize the government, destroy the poppy fields, and kill as many terrorist leaders as possible that sounds like a leadership vision to me.

    That said it's going to take forever to achieve any of these goals, and what we should be questioning is whether achieving those goals is worth the cost in terms of life and money.

    August 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. elana

    Obama is leading quite well, thank you!! How many people would care to rewind the VCR, and take it back to about 2002, winding it through 2008, being LED by the CORRUPTION OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION!! Only those Republicans who are Partisan! And how many is that: ALL OF THEM!!!

    August 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. America Shrugged

    Empyt shirt, empty suite, liberals, yada yada yada...You guys lost the last 2 elections and ran the Gov from no where as VP last year. You don't get any say so in how Obama runs the show..

    August 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Tom

    I love how these guys talk to the media first instead of going and explaining their views and concerns to the president. In the business world if we spoke to the media before telling our bosses we would get fired. Wish the same would happen to this guy and get these senators on the side of the US instead of interest in their own selves. I have decided that most of our senators are only interested in what get put in their pockets or how they can put down one person to get ahead of another.

    August 23, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Mike in Texas

    Calling the president anEmpty suit, empty shirt, socialist...etc = I have nothing of intelligence to say so I resort to child like name calling. Be an adult and address the issue without snide immature comments. This goes for both sides.

    Republicans and Democrats are neither right or wrong 100% of the time. For those who think they are, take the blinders off!!

    God has no room for haters. Going to church every Sunday doesn't make you a good Christian.

    August 23, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. SAMMIEB51

    Wow, weren't these the same guys so adamantly against a timeline or a stated mission? Somehow, their logic went, it violated the security of our very nation to put that stuff out there. Wish they would have been around when Bush got us in this mess, maybe they would have voted againt it or asked a few "tough" questions before our troops hit the sandy deserts ....

    August 23, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Arizonan

    I like Obama he pisses off the far left loons and the far right wing wackoos that is excatly what a President should be doing he should be centrists. The problem with the last guy is that he did everything that the far right wing wackoos wanted and that is why we are in this mess. As long as you stay moderate I am fine with voting for him in 2012. We should have focused on Afganistan in the beginning. As far as Iraq going to hell hey they were going there before we even showed up that goes to show that you can't bring democracy to a country that really doesn't want it.

    August 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. 4 and the door

    President Bush showed what a Commander in Chief leadership was all about. He was a strong enough leader to bring success in Iraq in spite of the greatest efforts of Democrats in congress, and that will be his legacy. Obama is not prepared to step up and be that strong of a leader.

    August 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. eolufemi

    I had no idea there were still Americans who believe going into Iraq was a good idea, let alone believe we should be sending more troops over there....

    The thing I dont get is how republicans can support spending money on another country's citizens, but absolutely oppose spending money on American citizens.

    If you're true to your principles as a conservative, you should be demanding that the government get defense spending under control. Which along with social security and medicare are the things driving the debt. And we can't do that as long as we continue valuing other countries interests over our own.

    Ask yourself whether stabilizing Afghanistan is really worth everything we are sacrificing to do it?

    August 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. J

    President Obama has to lead in Afghanistan yeh right!

    USA will never win in Afghanistan War, we left it far to long..
    It times to face the fact that we cannot win and bring the troops home.

    August 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Tom

    All I can say is that we have so many problems going on in our own country I am not sure why we are trying to fix everyone else's issues.

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Peter E

    Bush Jr. ignored Asfghanistan for most of his 8 years, gave up trying to find Al Quaida, which had comfortable room and time to conveniently relocate to Pakistan and Sudan. And yet somehow it's all Obama's fault right now? Where were these criticisms for the past eight years? Hypocrites!

    August 23, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. JAY

    Obama's rating in military knowledge would give him a rating
    military leader.

    August 23, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. TCM

    Obama couldn't lead himself out of a phone both unless he had a teleprompter giving him directions...what a weakling...typical representation of the loony left

    August 23, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Ken, Arizona

    Keep it coming RALPH. Show all of us what an idiot you really are.

    August 23, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Willy Brown

    Obummer lead? Come on he was a community organizer a baby sitter.

    August 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. doug

    Conservative REPUBLICAN war hawks and profiteers got us into this mess. WAR is good for the economy RIGHT?
    Obama inherited this mess you conservative sore loosers.
    The US is too engaged in wars as it is.
    Lets pay attention to fixing the probs Bush created here at home.
    Scale back the pentagon budget.
    Military doe defence of the homeland ONLY. NO MORE FOREIGN WARS FOR CORPORATE PROFITS.

    August 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. pc

    Republicans must shut up and let President Obama lead!

    August 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. vic nashville , Tn

    Sen. Richard Lugar is tha Obama is waiting for the election in Afghanistan

    Republicans stop attacking Obama use your commonsense

    August 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. John, Brooklyn, New York

    As a Democrat, I have to agree with Senator Luger. For decades the senator has been a voice of wise, moderate, and responsible foreign policy. I went to college in Indiana and I am proud to have had the opportunity to call him "my senator". (Ironically, the other Indiana senator at the time gave me the opposite reaction – Dan Quayle.)

    August 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. nolesfanbob

    As if Bush had any idea why we were in Iraq . what to do while there or how to get out. Republicans should keep out after Bush.

    August 23, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. No Hillary = No Obama

    Whose kidding who? It's the military telling about what to do with Afghanistan – Obama is just a mouthpiece for the military's own agenda. I wonder if just as many American's will be killed in Afghanistan as there were in Iraq – and Obama will be to blame. Obama – the one who kept badgering us with his campaign bragging about how he didn't vote for the war in Iraq – now look at him.

    August 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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