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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora