White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the White House is not only looking at the question of how many troops are necessary to accomplish the American mission in Afghanistan but also: “Do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process - that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?”
“This is a much more complex decision” than just determining the appropriate level of troops, Emanuel told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“It’s clear that basically we had a war [in Afghanistan] for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift,” Emanuel also said, “that we’re beginning at scratch, just at the starting point, after eight years – and that there’s not an [Afghan] security force, an [Afghan] army, and the types of services that are important for the Afghans to become a true partner.”
Echoing comments from Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry, Emanuel said it would be “reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if, in fact, you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing the Afghan country.”
“There’s a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked,” Emanuel said of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for the last eight years. Emanuel added that Obama won’t be rushed into making a decision without asking the firm questions and challenging the assumptions behind the questions.
With the results of a recent Afghan presidential still unclear because of concerns about election fraud, Emanuel said that now there are two options for resolving the election – either a run-off between the two top candidates or a negotiation between the two.
The end result must be “a legitimate and credible” government that the Afghan people view as valid, Emanuel said.