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Speaking at George Washington University for a program to be broadcast tonight, Tuesday October 6th, on CNN they two of them insisted that the president’s deliberate approach to set the right objectives and policies for Afghanistan was necessary and proper.
Secretary Gates told CNN that "Because of our inability and the inability, frankly, of our allies to put enough troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban do have the momentum right now." He added that an eventual Taliban victory would provide "added space" for al Qaeda to set up in the country and enhance recruiting and fundraising, bolstered by the perspective of a second victory over a superpower by Muslim forces after having driven out the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The Secretaries were asked about the internal debate in Obama's administration over the call for more U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in the country. Gates said, "We're not leaving Afghanistan... there should be no uncertainty in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership and trust with the Pakistanis. That's long term. That's a strategic objective of the United States."
Clinton said a regional approach supporting both Afghanistan and Pakistan would help achieve the U.S. goals of defeating terrorists and protecting America and its allies around the world. "We're going to come up with what we think is the best approach, but the goal remains the same," she said.
The two played down division in the administration over McChrystal's request to increase the 68,000 troops in Afghanistan by as many as 40,000 more, saying the process called for frank discussion to help Obama make the appropriate decision. Both said the advice to Obama should be private, in contrast to McChrystal's public comments and the leaking of his assessment to the news media.
Hillary was asked about the use of new media such as blogging in diplomacy. She said "people really have opened up to America again" since Obama succeeded Bush as president. "We're back to listening, we're back to engaging."
It is also important to note that the White House has scheduled meetings this week to discuss the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy that will include both Clinton and Gates. The meetings come at a time of enormous political pressure to decide whether to change U.S. strategy and raise troop levels after more deadly attacks. Gates said it will be one of the most important decisions of Obama's presidency. Here is a short video clip from the Daily Beast:
Here are some clips provided by CNN. Check back tonight for a FULL video!
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