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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs