Obama: ‘More Troops on the Ground’ in Afghanistan
July 22, 2008 - 2:16 PMSen. Barack Obama on Tuesday said he wants to “refocus attention on Afghanistan and go after the Taliban, including putting more troops on the ground.”
And he wants to put “more pressure on Pakistan” to deal with terrorist safe havens along the Afghan border.
“My goal as a candidate for president and as a potential commander-in-chief extends beyond Iraq,” Obama said during a stopover in Amman, Jordan.
“What we saw in Afghanistan, for example, where you’ve got a deteriorating security situation, and all the commanders uniformly indicated that two to three brigades would be extraordinarily helpful in allowing them to accomplish their goals – the only way we’re going to get those troops over there in a meaningful way is if we are taking them from somewhere else. So that’s something that I have to factor in.”
Obama said is not proposing a “precipitous drawdown” of U.S. troops in Iraq. “What I’ve proposed is a steady, deliberate drawdown over the course of 16 months.”
He said he must “factor in” the perceptions of the Iraqi people and the statements of the Iraqi prime minister that the Iraqi government is ready to take more responsibility for its own security.
Obama said achieving a functioning Iraq depends on whether the Iraqi people can “unify themselves,” get over their sectarian divisions, and set up a government that works for the people.
A timetable for getting out of Iraq is “appropriate,” he said. “I think the judgments that I’ve made over the past two years are ones that match up with the reality on the ground.”
Obama said the next president “is going to have to make a series of very difficult judgments and balance a set of risks based on the best possible intelligence and information available to him.
“The situation is so serious that we’re not going to have time for the kinds of political games or partisanship that I think has come to characterize too much of our foreign policy,” Obama added.
“I don’t have doubts about my ability to apply sound judgment to the major national security problems that we face. These are difficult questions, and I don’t think that anybody thinks they have the perfect formula for solving some of these very difficult foreign policy problems,” he added.
“But I feel very confident in my world view and my ability to shape a discussion that takes all arguments and facts into consideration and then come up with the best answer,” Obama said.