September 28th, 2009
01:00 PM ET
13 years ago

U.S. must win Afghan hearts and minds, commander says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/28/afghanistan.obama/art.afghanistan.gi.jpg caption="Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the U.S. will fail in Afghanistan without more troops."]
(CNN) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants more troops and a new strategy - but most importantly, he wants to win the battle for the hearts and the minds of the people in the war-torn country.

"What I'm really telling people is the greatest risk we can accept is to lose the support of the people here," Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS's "60 Minutes" in an interview aired Sunday night.

"If the people are against us, we cannot be successful. If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically."

McChrystal is expected to send his request any day for more resources to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan, according to a senior U.S. defense official familiar with the situation.

Earlier this month, McChrystal warned that more troops are needed there within the next year, or the nearly 8-year-old war "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post.

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soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Democrat in MD (CNN please post. Thank you!)

    He's correct...110%. "Nuff said!

    September 28, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. yuri

    With the savagious Talibans suckin' the life outta Afghanis, it will be a Himalayan task to woo the world of those mountain dwellers. If it is indeed achieved, half the battle is won.

    September 28, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. yuri

    Here comes the one and only Bill who will adorn a pantheon of political performers in the state. It, likely, will be a keenly contested election.

    September 28, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Sharon

    It is still a death trap! Why waste American lives, when as soon we leave they will burn our flag. Our mission should be to chase, catch and kill Al-Queda. Anything else is nation building and if we are going to build a nation, we need to build here at home.

    September 28, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Phyllis

    George Bush and Richard Cheney have already spent all of the money we can afford to change the world, x 10. If we try to heal Afghanistan, our country will go bankrupt for sure. We need to repair our own infrastructure before we start building another country.

    September 28, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. vick

    its been almost nine years homie.... our government and commanders are jokes seriously

    September 28, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama needs to be honest with the US citizens.

    How does the increasing troop strength align with his campaign promises of withdraw and ending wars we are in?
    How does he justify assassinations in Somolia and other places?
    Why are we hearing the same rhetoric as Bush used in Iraq?
    What will he do about Iran besdies talking at them?

    And i don't want him to keep trying to distract us all with race – I want some honest, straightforward answers from our commander in chief.

    September 28, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Farrell in Houston

    We spent 8 years + in Iraq with who, there were no Taliban or al Qaeda. But yet this so called Karzai government was running a democracy in Afghan with the Taliban and al Qaeda still there. Come on people there is something very fishy about Bush's buddy Karzai whom Bush put in place. I agree with the Generals on the ground and I believe we will soon be pulling out, there is a no win here when you have a defective government run by Karzai.

    September 28, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Freedom

    We need to leave AFGAN. because I don't think Obama has the courage to do what it takes to win.

    September 28, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Debra R

    This is all well and good however like 'Nam the democrats will find a way to lose this one too. They are already not listening to the generals fighting the war. They are listening to Joe "fruit loop" Biden.

    September 28, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Beto Ramos

    Surely, the General has smarts enough to know that most of the Afgan population would rather see us gone. We are already seen occupiers/invaders.

    As to collateral damage – Our commanders are damed if they do and damed if they don't. If a site is the source of enemy fire, the commander can either call in an air strike and risk collateral damage or he does not. In the latter case, his men will suffer dead and wounded. If he does the former, no matter who is to blame, the relatives and friends of the innocents killed/wounded will blame us thus increasing recruits for the Taliban.

    September 28, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Bob in Pa

    Great Commander in Chief we have huh ?
    He has given over 120 interviews but only found time to talk with McChrystal 1 time in 70 days.

    Get with it BO !

    September 28, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. rr

    As long as our enemies have safe havens in Pakistan, we can't win this war.

    Tell the Pakistan government they have two months to deal with our enemies on Pakistani soil, or we start carpet bombing northern Pakistan!

    September 28, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Bush's "Suck"cess: My Pet Goat, Mission Accomplished & Heckuva Job Brownie

    Good thing he didn't say anything about the Rushcheneycants hearts and minds since they have neither!

    September 28, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. JonDie

    It was refreshing to see and hear the "60 Minutes" interview with General McChrystal.

    But McChrystal's probably THE only general in our military with a brain or the ability to use it. And anything he can due is probably too little, too late.

    In fact, most of his own subordinates probably disagree with him and will, therefore, only support him half-heartedly.

    We can thank George W. "Didn't do anything right in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2009" Bush and the Republicans like John McCain for that.

    September 28, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Nea

    I really PRAY for this President that he will make the right decision and not let anyone else talk him into sending more troops to afghanistan, its a hard decision for him to make because his mind is on the family of those troops but i just PRAY that he makes the right decision.

    September 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Kevin in Ohio

    Such a dilemma for Obama. Do the right thing, and he will suffer the wrath of the left-wing radical fringe he so loves and admires and counts on for support. Do the wrong thing, and he will lose the war, and set in motion a sequence of events that will lead to even greater misery down the road.

    September 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Cindy

    But how do you win the hearts and minds of people if you bring in more troups, that'll make it look like you're occupying their country even more?

    Not saying it's the wrong strategy, but there's obviously a bigger issue here than just adding more American troups.

    The Taliban are occupyers too. It needs to be clarified... Taliban's are occupyers for keeps, our guys are not. We have to prove to the Afghan people that we are not planning on occupying forever.

    September 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Chris from NC

    Brilliant idea, General!!! Maybe we'll be as successful in Afghanistan as we were in Vietnam.

    September 28, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Sorry, the President is too busy trying to get the Olympics to read your report General. He'll get back to you when he has the time. I mean it isn't like he personally appointed you and asked you for this report, or promised during the election he would listen to the "generals on the ground". If it were any other politician, you'd think he was pandering to his base, but he's the "anti-politician" right.

    September 28, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Ray S

    It's "old home week" once again. Where have I heard the call for more troops before? Was it Vietnam? We have now been in Afghanistan as long as we were in Vietnam, if one counts the 1965 Tonkin Gulf Incident as the beginning, and 1975 as the end of that tragic war. Did we win?

    If you want to think of it in different terms, we have now been in Afghanistan twice as long as we were involved in World War II. Look again, and we have now been in Afghanistan twice as long as all of World War II beginning with the Japanese Invasion of China in 1937. Everyone knows that World War II was a truly global war, and 65 years after it ended we have allowed ourselves to be sucked into two "rice paddy" wars in two countries (Korea and Vietnam), and now the Oil and Opium Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For what? There is no victory in sight, and certainly no withdrawal plans with the possible exception of Iraq. I wonder what our World War II Commanders would think if they were still alive to see the messes we have gotten ourselves into? What a waste of time, money, talent, energy, and most of all human lives. And all for what?

    September 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Robert

    Winning hearts and minds worked well in Vietnam.

    September 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a moron!

    We so often "win hearts and minds" with bombs and troops....

    NO ONE WINS A WAR!

    September 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Jim

    Gen. McChrystal is absolutely right that the US must win the support of the Afghan people in order to defeat the Taliban there. Those of us who've been around know those key words "hearts and minds" were used during the Vietnam War for the exact same reason. Let's pray our Afghan strategy is more successful than our Vietnam one!

    September 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Ted

    What Afghanistan needs is a legitimate election. The sham election that put Karzai back in with stuffed ballot boxes.

    The US and its allies have been in Afghanistan for quite a while and we have not been successful due to the insurgents and Taliban. If we send more troops, will we be successful or not.

    September 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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