October 4th, 2009
12:14 PM ET
13 years ago

'This is a strategic moment,' Jones says of Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) – One of President Obama’s top military advisers said Sunday that the United States is at a crossroads in its strategic approach to Afghanistan.

“This is a strategic moment,” National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union.

In March, the president announced a plan to send additional troops to the country in order to provide security for a national election and to begin to lay the groundwork for a larger footprint for the U.S. military operation in the country. The Afghan effort, many military observers believe, was under-resourced during the Bush administration because of the focus on the war in Iraq.

Jones pointed out that since March three developments have led the White House to reconsider its overall Afghanistan strategy: the national election occurred where there are questions about the legitimacy of the outcome; General Stanley McChrystal was named the new top U.S. commander in the country and McChrystal has concluded that the Taliban is stronger than previously thought; across the border from Afghanistan, the Pakistani government is doing much better than anticipated, changing the overall dynamic in the Afghanistan-Pakistan regional theater.

Jones also said Sunday that he did not believe Afghanistan was in danger of falling back into the Taliban’s hands.

“I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban,” Jones told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “And I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger – imminent danger - of falling.”

“The key in Afghanistan,” Jones also told King, “is to have a triad of things happen simultaneously.” In addition to security, the country needs economic development and “good governance and the rule of law,” Jones said.

On the issue of “good governance,” Jones said, “We have a lot more work to do and the Karzai government is going to have to pitch in and do much better than they have.”

Echoing an approach championed by Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jones also said Sunday that building up Afghanistan’s own police and army forces “will be an important part of whatever we decide to do.”

Jones also said President Obama is receiving a variety of different views on Afghanistan from his top military, national security, and foreign policy advisers.

“We will be examining different options,” Jones told King, adding that McChrystal, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will be willing to present different options and different scenarios to Obama.

“In the coming weeks, we will have vigorous debates. There will be alternative views presented and, I’m quite sure we’ll come up with the right solution.”

The president is currently in the midst of an involved, overall strategic review of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan. Some in the president’s inner circle, like Vice President Biden, are advocating for a counterterrorism approach that focuses on combating al Qaeda through the use of drones and special forces and would not involve the addition of more troops. Others, especially Gen. McChrystal, are advocating a broader counterinsurgency approach that would require a much larger U.S. military footprint in the country.


Filed under: Afghanistan • James Jones • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Let's look at some facts:
    #1 The current Afghanistan strategy was decided on by Obama in March 2009.
    #2 In May 2009 he picked McChrystal as the new commander.
    #3 After taking command and assessing the situation McChrystal submitted a 66 page report that said the Obama's strategy would fail without more troops.
    #4 The White House sat on the report for weeks, and staffers asked McCrystal not to ask for more troops because they didn't want to put Obama in a position to say yes or no. Meanwhile Obama went 70 days without talking to his commander in the field until they met in Europe this week.
    #5 After the report leaked it became known that McChrystal requested up to 40,000 more troops.
    Conclusion: Obama is now waffling on his strategy because he knows 40,000 more troops will piss off his leftist base, who would rather lose. Meanwhile every day of voting 'present' costs more lives. Obama is a national disgrace.

    October 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Obama's failures are piling up and up!!

    How many more failures from Obama must we suffer before people (Dems and the Media) begin to hold him accountable. While his failure with Chicago hosting the Olympics is a little more than an embarrassment – Obama's failures with the economy (unemployment near 10%) and with foreign policy (Iran and Afghanistan) threaten our prosperity and our very lives.

    Obama is fast becomming outed as nothing more than an intellectual elitist with no true grasp of how to handle the job of leader of the free world.

    It's a shame that so many have been fooled by him – only because he can give a good speech.

    October 4, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Mike in MN

    Jones doesn't see the Taliban returning? Perhaps he is not aware that just yesterday hundreds of Taliban soliders attacked US and Afghan troops. The attack was highly organized and lead, they had rockets, mortars and heavy-caliber maching guns. At least 8 US tropps were killed, 2 Afgan troops were killed and 13 Afghan police were taken prisoner, certain to be executed shortly. This was the largest number of US troops killed in an attack in over a year. Jones doesn't foresee the return of the Taliban? Maybe he needs to re-think that statement.

    October 4, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Nick San Diego

    What do you say that we let the UN take over the MAJOR part of the war effort. Let some other country place 40 or50 thousand men in and the U.S. give the token 2or 3 thousand. Bar that or bring home EVERY sincle U.S. serviceman.
    Screw the Taliban,Iraq,Israel and the rest of the middle east. If they don't want to live in peace, then let them kill off each other.
    Sick of that part of the world

    October 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Gerry

    Gone is any mention of the US fighting a war of necessity, and of the need to defeat Al Qaeda. Now retired General Jones knows more about the potential fall of Afghanistan than General McChrystal. This Administration keeps throwing out there one flunky after another.

    October 4, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. manhandler

    It's a simple as 5 words. GET OUT OF VIET NAMISTAN!!! Eight more young people lost their lives yesterday....and for what? Stupid, Stupid people conducting a stupid, stupid war. SO WHAT if the Taliban are defeated?? Just how is that gonna stop terrorists if they want to strike somewhere, News Flash.......TERRORISM IS NOT IN ANY ONE PLACE!!!!! Hello???????Hello????? Is anybody with half a brain there? We desperately need the money being spent on this insane war right here in our own country. Talking about cutting Medicare by almost a trillion dollars over the next decade and Still conducting this insane war. Our Government is disgusting!!!!!!!!

    October 4, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. victim of republican greed

    On June 15, 2004, in the Rose Garden, President Bush claimed 'victory' in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.

    He said, "Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist factory sending thousands of killers into the world."

    October 4, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. victim of republican greed

    I did not think you wingnuts wanted America to get the Olympics. Fox, Beck, Limbaugh, and the conservatives cheered when they heard Chicago was eliminated.

    October 4, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. John

    Stop Russia from Supplying Weapons to Al Quida in Iraq and Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Only then it will be possible to win the wars.

    October 4, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. LouAz

    Why do smart men and women insist that success in Afghanistan can only be determined if there is a WalMart in Kabul ?

    Someone find and kill Osama bin Laden, and then get our brave young soldiers out of there. If he is not in Aghanistan, then get us out of there.

    What ever Afghanistan is, including the Taliban, it is no real threat to the USA. The Sept 11, 2001 attack on the US was done by 20 guys.
    It was not done by some turbaned army of barefoot AK-47 toting soldiers coming ashore in reed boats. The 20 guys could have planned their attack in any country on earth. They could have planned it in any city or town in the USA. They executed their attack from right here IN THE USA ! 20 guys !

    Why do we have 70,000 + brave soldiers and gobs of equipment in Afghanistan blowing things up ? The tribes in the socalled country of Afghanistan, have been blowing each other up for hundreds of years. Long before the Ruskies blew the region up. Long before the Brits blew the region up. No, they are inclined to blow each other up. Let them, it is not our business. Their God(s) can sort it out.

    If we reason that Afghanistan needs to be a stable democracy in order to prevent another 9/11 type attack, then we better invade and occupy every other "stan" in the region. Hey, don't forget the Baltic States, and Iceland either. Osama bin Laden could be there too you know. Let's not neglect Antartica ! He could be hiding there too. You know Lichtenstein may not have our best interest at heart either.

    Someone get Osama bin Laden, and if he is not in Afghanistan, get us out of there. There, that is our 8 year old "strategic moment" !

    October 4, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. B

    We find ourselves in this huge mess strictly because we spent the last eight years in the- wrong place-, and because of TOTAL lack of ANY leadership from Cheney and his puppet Moron Bush!

    October 4, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Death Panel Sarah

    We should have finished the job the first time. Guess that proved Bush couldn't multi-task!!

    October 4, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Dan, TX

    This guy now affected by the radical philosophy our Barack Obama and is being blinded by the liberals. Get a life...

    October 4, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. On the other hand...

    When the going gets tough, then we see who walks the talk.

    October 4, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Keith in Austin

    Obama's naivity is evidenced roiutinely in his inability to make important decisions and ACT upon them. He waffles based on partisanship. He's like a deer in headlights and unfortunately, is taking the lead from Pelosi, Reid and now Jones along with other liberal bleeding hearts rooted in weakness! The results have materialized in his ill-gotten Stimulous Bill, a Healthcare Reform debacle, weakened National security, deficits 4-times greater in the history of the US and a jobless rate highest in 30 years!

    This President is an empty suit and severely lacking in everything but reading teleprompters! Grow a pair and make a decision that is RIGHT for America, Barry! You can do it!

    October 4, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    It is always easiers to break than to remake: The understanding of war
    is that two opposing armies meet in battle; so what army is the USA
    with its NATO allies fighting ? Afghanistan being a collection of Tribes,
    including the Taliban, unless all Tribes in Afghanistan are brought to
    the table to unify the country then there will NEVER be the emergence
    of a Afghanistan Nation...and Peace...!


    October 4, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. virginia for obama

    And to think! . . All this starting happening since 1-20-09. . .8 yrs before that It was just BLANK. THANK GOD! we have a YOUNGER
    generation. . . JETSON/IN, FLINTSTONES/OUT.


    October 4, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Farrell in Houston

    It was "they" who started this war and now it is "they" who think "they" have the only advice on how to fix it. John McCain and the rest of his cronies need to shut up.

    October 4, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. JT the concerned College Freshman from MO

    Personally, I think that we need a more strategic mission myself. We need to focus only on the Taliban, which is responsible for what has gone on for the past 8 or so years. I was not even quite 10 years old when that happened, but as I got older, I understood that the Taliban needed to be gotten rid of for good. We need to thank our soldiers for risking their lives for our freedom. God bless them and their families. God has a very special place for them, I think personally.

    October 4, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Simmy

    Condolences to the families of the eight soldiers who lost their lives, and families of all who have lost relatives in the past....May God comfort and keep you in these trying times.....May He bring a quick resolution to Bush's wars........Amen.

    October 4, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Nea

    All of you that criticize this President and this Administration will criticize him if he do or dont so i just PRAY that he makes the right decision thats best for the country. You can always change a stratergy when its not working so you can say he is going back on his promise or whatever but if thats going to help save Americans troops and win the war so be it.Whether he sends in more troops or not its about what works. This President have a hard job as it is and i believe he is the right man for the job. Im just glad that he is taking time to think things over instead of just pressing the button.

    October 4, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    "the president announced a plan to send additional troops "

    Obama is a WAR president – you were lied to by his zombies.

    October 4, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Chery Tx

    @B October 4th, 2009 1:02 pm ET
    We find ourselves in this huge mess strictly because we spent the last eight years in the- wrong place-, and because of TOTAL lack of ANY leadership from Cheney and his puppet Moron Bush!
    You Are SOOOOOO Right!!!!

    October 4, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. No Hillary = No Obama

    "This is a strategic moment" – just like "a major speech" "an important announcement" can you get any higher in the grandstand? These superlative statements seem to be endemic to the Obama White House and mean nothing.

    October 4, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Every war is an expression of failure.

    October 4, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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