In his foreign policy address at the Citadel this morning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney provided a fuzzy outline of his position on the war in Afghanistan.
“I will order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military to secure that nation’s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban,” Romney said. “I will speak with our generals in the field and receive the best recommendation of our military commanders. The force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully is a decision I will make free from politics.”
But today’s address offered few answers to some of Romney's recent statements on Afghanistan. In a June debate on CNN, for instance, he said the following in response to a question about bringing the troops home:
It’s time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over to the Taliban military in a way that they’re able to defend themselves. Excuse me, the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban. That’s an important distinction….
I think we’ve learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals.
But I also think we’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban. Thank you.
It was unclear then, as it was today, how Romney would assess whether the war's mission.
A follow-up fact sheet from the Romney campaign offered a few more details. "[Romney will] work with the Afghan government and Pakistan and use U.S. leverage to ensure that those nations are fully contributing to the success of our mission," according to the fact sheet. "He will make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that our commitment must be met with reciprocal efforts to crack down on corruption in his government, respect free and fair elections as required by the Afghan constitution, and coordinate with the United States on fighting the narcotics trade that fuels the insurgency."