October 18th, 2009
10:34 AM ET
13 years ago

Emanuel: Obama asking questions that have never been asked

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A top aide to President Barack Obama said Sunday that the administration’s thorough review of the U.S. military’s continued involvement in Afghanistan includes asking a number of questions about the Afghan government’s ability to function and provide peace and security on its own.

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.

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Kate in SW Fla

    I think Joe Biden said it best. Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, not the Taliban. There are reliable estimates that there are now only about 100 members of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda is now in Pakistan. Pakistan has a functioning government, that can actually be a partner towards removing Taliban AND Al-Qaeda. Why would we want to send over 100,000 troops to fight the 100 or so Al-Qaeda who are still in Afghanistan, rather than send a lot more support to Pakistan, where Al-Qaeda actually is? Don't you tink we should at least take the time to answer these questions, before moving forward? Why would any person, Democrat, Republican or Independent listen to ANYTHING a neocon says regarding this situation? They created it.

    October 18, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. jane

    The President is proceeding thoughtfully and cautiously as he should. These are serious decisions.

    October 18, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Debbie

    I don't think a surge would work for any effective time. We are 8 years down the road in Afganistan and we still have never gotten Osama. Pakistan plays all sides and as does Afganistan.

    While wasting American blood and money in Iraq to take out Sadaam (if dictators was the aim then Bush should have gone after Kim/No.Korea) more fanatical groups form in the Afgan/Paki region so now the war there has evolved.

    There will be no WWII type of win in any conflict yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Since the atomic bomb all issues are "conflicts" and you look for the least damage as a way out. Eisenhower used the DMZ, and Nixon's victory with honor was just sort of us leaving Vietnam, we are slowing withdrawing from Iraq. Add to that the topography of Afganistan makes ground warfare very, very difficult and you can't just use indiscriminate air weapons either.

    So the question is not how many troops to send but how to get out with the least damage and most possible gains.

    October 18, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Burns NH

    Obama has never walked the walk,but is great on talk. We need a
    President that can make decision, now, on a few major problems'
    and get it right before the next set of problems on the table. Mr.
    President, get your stuff together and get on with our business!

    October 18, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. mark

    heres a question, how much interaction does obama actually have with his generals because he is clearly dropping the ball on this war.

    October 18, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. JP

    Now that Obama won Nobel!, sending more troops to Afghanistan would prove unbecoming of Nobel peace prize winner.

    October 18, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. They call me "tater salad"

    I'm glad we no longer have a headstrong, halfwit, trigger happy, cowboy for our President! However, thats only one of very few things i"m glad about right now!

    October 18, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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