Kerry Places Conditions on Troop Surge in Afghanistan, Blasts Cheney For Partisan Attacks

John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the person responsible for brokering the deal to have a run-off election in Afghanistan, questions General  Stanley McChrystal’s request for a surge in Afghanistan:

“I am convinced from my conversations with Gen. Stanley McChrystal that he understands the necessity of conducting a smart counterinsurgency in a limited geographic area,” Kerry said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But I believe his current plan reaches too far, too fast.”

Kerry has not ruled out supporting a surge in the future if  three conditions are met:

“First, are there enough reliable Afghan forces to partner with American troops—and eventually to take over responsibility for security? The quickest way out of Afghanistan for our troops is to speed up the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Army and police so that they can defend their own country.”

“The second question to ask is, are there local leaders we can partner with? We must be able to identify and cooperate with tribal, district and provincial leaders who command the authority to help deliver services and restore Afghans’ faith in their own government.”

“Third, is the civilian side ready to follow swiftly with development aid that brings tangible benefits to the local population? When they support our troops, Afghans need to see their lives improve.”

Kerry’s conditions should be considered seriously. After all, it was Kerry who insisted that we should not go to war in Iraq unless it could be demonstrated that we were truly threatened by weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately George Bush did not listen to several pre-war speeches by Kerry advising against his course of action. Barack Obama is more likely to consider Kerry’s views on Afghanistan.

Kerry also criticized Dick Cheney for accusing President Barack Obama of “dithering” on the troop decisions.

“After eight years of neglecting Afghanistan as vice president, Dick Cheney has now come out of retirement to criticize President Obama for taking time to examine assumptions before sending troops into war,” Kerry said.

“Make no mistake,” he continued:

“Because of the gross mishandling of this war by past civilian leadership, there are no great options for its handling today. One American officer captured well our lack of a strategy when he said, ‘We haven’t been fighting in Afghanistan for eight years. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for one year eight times in a row.’ That is our inheritance.”

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