November 25th, 2009
09:41 AM ET

Debating Afghanistan strategy

Sources say that on Tuesday, President Obama will announce his decision on Afghanistan. Explore three different takes on the upcoming decision by:  Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied commander; Matthew Hoh, a former State Department official who resigned in protest over the U.S. policy in Afghanistan; and Tom Cotton of Vets for Freedom, an organization of combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were guests on "Larry King Live."

Matthew Hoh: I think adding more troops is going in the wrong direction. Adding more troops does two things. It reinforces the Karzai government, a government that we're propping up, you know, on the backs of our young Marines and soldiers. By propping them up, that means the Karzai government will not negotiate with the other side. The other thing this does by adding more troops is it only enforces or reinforces the Taliban's desire to end the foreign occupation of the country. They're only going to fight harder. So by adding more troops, you take away any incentive from the Karzai regime to negotiate, and you embolden the other side to continue fighting.

Larry King: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has accused the president of dithering and suggested that his actions toward Afghanistan are due to inexperience. How do you comment on that?

Wesley Clark: I think it's been a very good process of the strategic review. I think they've worked it with the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I think it's been time very, very well spent. I have to say I'm in sympathy with General McChrystal's request for more troops. I would certainly request them if I were there. But I also hear what Matthew [Hoh] is saying. I think that's the effort of the review, is to square those two concerns. They are both sets of concerns. McChrystal needs more troops. The government's not responsive. It's not as legitimate as probably we would like to make it. And the other element is, of course, Pakistan has to do more, because we can't succeed in Afghanistan alone. It's not an isolated theater of war. All that is part of the review.

Larry King: Every public poll says a majority of Americans want us out. How do you respond to that?

Tom Cotton: The support for the war can ebb and flow based on the case that our leaders make for it. I think one draw back of the long and protracted review is that we haven't had the president and senior Congressional leaders making the case to the American people for why we need to send more troops to Afghanistan, what they're going to accomplish and how we can win. I think once that case is made, once the president explains that we have a victory strategy, not an exit strategy, the polls will begin to turn around, and the center of gravity in the war, which is really not the fight against al Qaeda terrorists or the fight against the Taliban, but maintaining American public support for our great fighting man, will begin to turn around, and the majority of Americans will see that this is an essential fight that we have to win.

Watch the full interview from Larry King Live

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Obama • Pakistan • Voices
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