Grumbling on Capitol Hill About Administration’s Timeline for Afghanistan

COMMENTARY Asia

Grumbling on Capitol Hill About Administration’s Timeline for Afghanistan

Jul 19, 2010 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
James Phillips

Visiting Fellow, Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

James Phillips is a visiting fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Senate Republicans last week that he would try to fix the problem caused by the Obama Administration’s mixed messages about its commitment to the war in Afghanistan. Alex Bolton Friday reported in The Hill that Gates told a group of Republican Senators in a closed door meeting on Tuesday that he also was frustrated by the inconsistent statements on Afghanistan policy made by various members of the Administration and that he would do his best to clear up the uncertainty in the future.

Senator Pat Roberts (R–KS.) was quoted in the article as saying: “This administration can’t have one person speaking to a political element and others speaking to the military situation and others speaking to the geopolitical element; we’ve got to get the team working together and have one person talking about it, and it should be the president.”

Roberts pointed out that various officials have muddied the waters by seeking to assure liberal Democrats that the war will end soon, thereby undermining the message of other officials who seek to project a resolve to win the war to foreign audiences, including the Afghans, many of whom continue to sit on the fence.

Ultimately, only the President can resolve this issue.And he should start by abandoning his own highly unrealistic timeline for beginning a withdrawal of U.S. troops by July 2011. Counterinsurgency campaigns take time to bear fruit and the United States must be steadfast and patient to salvage a victory in Afghanistan.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal