Afghan decision much more complex than troop levels: Obama aide

13:59, October 19, 2009      

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U.S. President Barack Obama's decision on Afghan strategy, which is still weeks away, is "much more complex" than whether to send more troops, a top aide to the president said Sunday.

Making such a decision requires getting answers to a "set of questions" and Obama "will not be rushed to making a decision without asking firm questions and challenging the assumptions," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said told CNN's "State of the Union."

"The president is asking the questions that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side," he said.

Emanuel argued that it was the former Bush administration's failure to ask such critical questions that has left the Obama administration starting from scratch and left the Afghan war "adrift."

For Afghan leaders, he said Obama's questions would be: "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?"

Emanuel stressed 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."

In a separate interview with CNN from Afghanistan, John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed with him.

"Before the president makes a decision about the numbers of troops that ought to come here, I believe it is critical for us to be satisfied that the reform efforts that are absolutely mandatory within the government here are in fact going to take place and be fully implemented," said Kerry, who is on a trip to Afghanistan.

He also said U.S. success in Afghanistan will not be defined by military objectives. "There is no military success ultimately to Afghanistan."

Source: Xinhua
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