The Blog

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Updated)

Reaction to President Obama's Afghanistan speech.

9:37 PM, Jun 22, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The Good:

Barack Obama

Tim Pawlenty: "Placing politics over principle, President Obama's speech tonight is a continuation of his weak and ineffective foreign policy.  I opposed President Obama's decision in 2009 to announce a timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and I oppose it again now.  By overruling the best judgment of our military commanders in the field, the President has chosen to increase the chances that our mission may fall short of our goals.  I am alarmed to see America’s national security interests taking a back seat to partisan politics.  As President, I would draw down troops in Afghanistan as circumstances on the ground warrant, and I would respect the advice of our military commanders in the field.  We are in Afghanistan to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a terrorist sanctuary, and the greatest duty of a commander in chief is to provide for the safety and security of the American people."

Rep. Mike Rogers: "I am concerned about the President’s plan to begin troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. We are in a very precarious place in Afghanistan right now.  It seems the President is trying to find a political solution with a military component to it, when it needs to be the other way around. As the troop levels go lower we put more of a burden on the remaining troops, and we increase risk in a number of areas.  The most significant risk is to our remaining troops’ safety.  We also risk letting the Taliban regain ground they lost in the last fighting season, because we will be able to cover less ground.  There is also the risk this drawdown will send the wrong message to both the Taliban and our Afghan allies that U.S. commitment to finish the job is wavering. The handwringing we are seeing in some corners of Washington is astoundingly similar to the panic we saw in the early stages of the Iraq surge.  We have a good strategy in Afghanistan – we just need the political courage here in Washington to see it through."

Senator Joe Lieberman: "Because I agree with President Obama that the surge in American troops to Afghanistan that he ordered in 2009 has enabled us and our allies to make great progress on the ground there, I am disappointed by the pace and timing of the withdrawal of those troops the President announced tonight.   I had hoped the President would  draw down our forces more cautiously and am therefore concerned that the  accelerated withdrawal which the President has ordered will put at risk the substantial gains we have made in Afghanistan. Our troops are in the middle of the fighting season in Afghanistan now which makes this a questionable time to begin to reduce their numbers. The fighting season ends in October and that would be the best time to begin drawing down our forces. I would then wait until the end of next year's fighting season to begin to withdraw all our remaining surge forces and that could be accomplished by the end of 2012 or early 2013."

The Bad

Jon Huntsman: "With America mired in three expensive conflicts, we have a generational opportunity to reset our position in the world in a way that makes sense for our security as well as our budget. The war in Afghanistan is an asymmetrical war, and our approach ought to adjust accordingly. Our troops have done everything we've asked them to. They've routed the Taliban, dismantled Al Qaeda, and facilitated democratic elections. Now it is time we move to a focused counter-terror effort which requires significantly fewer boots on the ground than the President discussed tonight. We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat. The War on Terror is being fought against a global enemy, and it is critical that we have the resources to fight them wherever they're found."

Mitt Romney: “We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn’t adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America’s brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead.”

And the Ugly:

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers