Webb: ‘Clarity’ needed on Afghanistan strategy

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said this week during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that, in its congressionally-mandated December report, Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, the Obama administration “must provide us some clarity, not only as to specific programs, but as to what their policies are expected to accomplish in a larger sense.”

“The argument that we are in Afghanistan because of 9/11 is true only in the sense that the presence of international terrorists inside Afghanistan at that time illuminated the overall threat,” Webb said. “International terrorism is by its very nature mobile, with the capability to operate in many areas, as we know well.

“In its December review, it is important for the administration to clearly show how the process it is putting into place in Afghanistan will degrade or defeat the threat of international terrorism,” Webb said. “This can only be done by demonstrating: (1) measurable results, (2) evidence of political stability; and (3) an agreed upon conclusion to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”

On this last point, Webb rebutted the frequent allegation that Afghanis are “hedging their bets” against the American effort simply because they know the U.S. will eventually leave.

“We are going to leave Afghanistan at some point,” Webb said. “There is no doubt about that. The question is under what conditions.”

Referring to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s comment about the Taliban’s policy of targeted assassinations, Webb recalled that in the early years of the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong were assassinating an average of 11 South Vietnamese government officials a day.

“I would venture that targeted assassinations are pushing more people away from the Afghan government than any prospect of an eventual U.S. military withdrawal,” Webb said.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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