Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry released the following statement this evening following President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan:
“I believe that the President defined a narrower mission tonight, not an open-ended nation-building exercise. A key component of that mission is providing that the troops will only clear and hold in places where there is capacity to build and transfer beneath them and that there will be significant partnering with Afghans in all of these efforts. That includes finding reliable Afghan partners in governance. If these criteria are met, then there is a chance for success. The President is correct to say the essential focus must be on Pakistan. What happens in Pakistan, particularly in the west, will be more critical to the outcome in Afghanistan than the increase in troops or shift in strategy there. I will support additional troops, providing their deployment stays within the strict understanding of the need to transfer and build as well as partner with Afghans. The only way to be successful is to rapidly transfer responsibility to the Afghans and anything short of that will end in failure, no matter how many troops we send to Afghanistan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue to examine our Afghan policy in public hearings in the coming days and beyond.”
The Boston Globe reports:
Kerry’s support is considered crucial because of his experience as a Vietnam War veteran and antiwar leader in the 1970s, and his current post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If Kerry were to turn strongly against Obama after months of trying to shape the president’s new policy, it could influence wavering Democrats and undermine Obama’s effort.
I know that Kerry understands what is at stake with Afghanistan and is ever so wary that it become another Vietnam. He’ll continue to keep a sharp eye on Obama’s plans, of that I am certain. Three years is not soon enough to get us out of Afghanistan, we must continue to urge Congress that the time is now.