September 20th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama: Afghanistan strategy is still a work in progress

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Eight months after Inauguration Day, the Obama administration is still working out its strategy for continued U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, the president said in an interview that airs Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

"I think that what we have to do is get the right strategy, and then I think we've got to have some clear benchmarks, [a] matrix of progress," President Barack Obama told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about the war torn country.

Obama said "our original goal" in the country "was to get Al Qaeda, the people who killed 3,000 Americans [in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks].

"To the extent that our strategy in Afghanistan is serving that goal, then we're on the right track. If it starts drifting away from that goal, then we may have a problem."

Obama also offered a window into his decision maknig process as the commander-in-chief.

"I don't want to put the resource question before the strategy question," Obama told King. "Because there is a natural inclination to say, if I get more, then I can do more. But right now, the question is, the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?"

The president said the answer to that important strategic question will come from his Secretary of Defense, his national security adviser, and commanders on the ground in Afghanistan.

"[W]hat I will say to the American public is, it's not going to be driven by the politics of the moment," the president added.

Obama is currently considering an assessment of troop levels done by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The report is believed by some members of Congress to recommend additional troops be placed in the country. But some influential Democrats on Capitol Hill have expressed reluctance to send more troops to Afghanistan.

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. What do you mean.....

    you have to figure out a strategy......what have you been doing the last 9 months?

    September 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. Willy Brown

    Obummer has no clue.

    September 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. ICARE

    Take your time. Since the beginning of time, it has always been a problem for superpower, but I thnk this time, I have got this feeling that we can win. Just pressure the surrounding areas to make it really hard for them to exist.

    September 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. Debra R

    Gee, you think maybe, just maybe you should take the advice of your generals instead of Joe "looney tune" Biden????? As neither of you have served in uniform (except maybe to ask "do you want frys with that?") that seems like the first place to start. You already have one general saying we can win, unless you are going to go the same, patheric path most Democrats do and give up.

    September 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. victim of republican greed

    Since there was no strategy by 'the decider' in this forgotten war, for the last 8 years, it is good to have a president willing to listen to the generals and the experts.

    September 20, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. victim of republican greed

    Thank God that the clueless one is back in Dallas.

    September 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. katiec

    If we had not gone into an unwarranted, deceitful war in Iraq we would not have so many problems.
    So many of our resources, so many of our loved ones killed. thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis victims, irresponsible spending, non bidding contracts awarded Halliburton etc, so many things handled with no responsible, acceptable, honorable tactics,
    the left overs are available for Afghanistan.
    Our president has a distaster on his hands and it will be very
    difficult to resolve.

    September 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Robert New Concord, ohio

    If you want to criticize you must first offer a plan yourself, otherwise you are not qualified to give an opinion. You are basically saying you know a better way then the way we are going so please shut up or show it to us so we can evaluate it! I believe anyone who knows a better way for this country to do something and refuses to share it with us is unpatriotic!!

    September 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    the tightie righties were all aboard when Duh-bya was in office, Now that Obama is trying to win the actual war (NOT the bogus Iraq one), they do nothing but criticize. I believe back during the reign of error, the GOP would have called that un-american and treasonous....hmmm

    September 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. Lynne

    What do you mean: So I guess you must be REALLY upset that Pres. Bush had absolutely NO strategy for the 7 plus years he was the Commander in Chief and failed miserably in executing the war in Afghanistan!! Bish's invasion of Iraq and ignoring of the brave soldiers in the coalition in Afghanistan has caused the resurrgence of the Taliban and the deaths and injuries of brave Americans and soldiers from Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Austrailia....

    Same whiners and haters every day...don't you have lives???

    September 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Shelly

    This is the war we should have always focused on....instead of the false Bush war. Until we and our allies destroy the strength of the Al Queda and Taliban......they will continue to be a threat not only to the USA but the whole world ( Remember bombs in London, Spain, India and others).
    If we leave, the killings of innocent people will outnumber the deaths right now. War is always terrible, but no one can negotiate with these terrorists. Their hate for rest of the world runs deep in their blood.

    September 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. DonnaLee

    Clearly all Rethuglicans think that the only good American is a sacrificed American.

    If you Rethuglican weirdos want war so badly, why don't you join the military and fight for your values ... Put your lives where your mouths are ... or shut your lying cowardly pie holes.

    September 20, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Biased

    Does figuring out a strategy come after Obama feels he can't give any more speeches than he already has on healthcare? If the WH wants to talk about how well prepared they were for this health discussion long before they took office, then why have they not given the same assurances that they were prepared for Afghanistan? Or do they want to avoid this since Pelosi and Reid promised to end the Iraq war long ago when they took the majoirty 4 years ago. How long does the Commander in Chief want to take while those he commands wait for a decision about their fate in Afghanistan? Did I misinterpret the news of Gates telling the General to basically don't call us, we'll call you with your request for more troops because we are too busy with the the healthcare debate to start talking seriously about Afghanistan? Please, someone tell me this is not as bad as it sounds.

    September 20, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Matt

    I support the president, but I think we should get out of Afghanistan.

    September 20, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  15. Keith in Austin

    George Bush met with his national security advisors EVERY morning for 8 years while in the White House. Barry Obummer has been out campaigning for his various tax and spend policies 70 percent of the time during his first 9 months and doesn't have a clue about Afghanistan!

    September 20, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |