News

    Gates: Failure in Afghanistan Would Mean a 'Taliban Takeover' of Country

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan, 02 Dec 2009
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan, 02 Dec 2009

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan strategy at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, saying that failure in Afghanistan would mean a "Taliban takeover" of the country.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen also took questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, with several lawmakers pressing them about the president's pledge to begin troop withdrawals from Afghanistan by July of 2011. 

    On the day after a major speech by President Obama announcing his plan to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, senior cabinet members and Pentagon officials went to Capitol Hill to take questions from Senate lawmakers.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the stakes for U.S. national security could not be higher.

    "Failure in Afghanistan would mean a Taliban takeover of much, if not most, of the country and likely a renewed civil war," said Robert Gates.

    Gates said Taliban-ruled areas could quickly become sanctuaries for al-Qaida again and a staging area for attacks into Pakistan.  He said this would have severe consequences for the United States and the world, and that President Obama made the right decision to boost U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

    "The president's decision offers the best possibility to decisively change the momentum in Afghanistan, and fundamentally alter the strategic equation in Pakistan and Central Asia," he said.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed that President Obama chose the best way forward out of a range of difficult options.  She said Afghanistan's vital importance to U.S. security has been clear ever since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

    "The case for action against al-Qaida has always been clear, but the United States' course of action has not," said Hillary Clinton.

    Clinton said she believes the U.S.-led war in Iraq was a distraction that allowed the Taliban and other extremists to regroup.

    "And while our attention was focused elsewhere, the Taliban gained momentum in Afghanistan and the extremist threat grew in Pakistan - a country with 175 million people, a nuclear arsenal and more than its share of challenges," she said.

    Most members of the Armed Services Committee supported President Obama's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  But several senators pressed Gates, Clinton and Mullen on comments the president made about beginning to pull out U.S. troops in late 2011.

    Republican Senator John McCain was one of them.

    "A withdrawal date only emboldens al-Qaida and the Taliban, while dispiriting our Afghan partners and making it less likely that they will risk their lives to take our side in this fight," said John McCain.

    Senator McCain said success is the only exit strategy and that American troops should return home with honor when the war is won, not before.

    Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates said that one reason President Obama set a date for beginning to withdraw U.S. troops was to get Afghanis to take more responsibility for stabilizing their country. 

    Independent Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman gave President Obama credit for making a decision to send more troops that is opposed by many liberal members of his own Democratic Party.

    "The president has quite literally put our national security interests ahead of partisan political interests," said Lieberman.

    Lieberman urged all lawmakers to do the same on national security matters.  

    Senior Obama administration officials will continue to answer lawmakers questions at hearings on Capitol Hill this week.  Congress must approve funding for the additional troops that President Obama wants to send to Afghanistan.  
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.