(Update from AP: Former President Bill Clinton told NBC's "Today" show that President Barack Obama is wise to rethink U.S. policy in Afghanistan before deciding whether to send additional U.S. troops there. Clinton said things are "teetering there," and he believes that Obama should wait at least until there is a resolution of the disputed presidential election.)
(CNSNews.com) – Leading Republican senators are pressing President Barack Obama to heed the advice of his top general in Afghanistan by approving the general's request for "more forces," including additional U.S. combat troops.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in a 66-page confidential assessment that was leaked to The Washington Post, repeatedly warned that without additional troops – and a genuine counterinsurgency strategy -- defeat in Afghanistan is likely.
"Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure," McChrystal wrote in the leaked report.
President Barack Obama says he is now considering McChrystal’s assessment.
Last week, Obama said he will be “very deliberate” in deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan because “my determination is to get this right."
Obama said he wants to hear not only from the military, but also from civilian and diplomatic quarters: "One of the things that I'm absolutely clear about is, you have to get the strategy right and then make determinations about resources," Obama said.
“You don't make determinations about resources -- certainly you don't make determinations about sending your men and women into battle -- without having absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be."
‘War worth fighting’
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling for a decisive win: “The War in Afghanistan is a war worth fighting and victory is the only option,” he said.
“After eight years of war, we have reached a critical juncture in Afghanistan where we must show our commitment to achieving victory by fully resourcing the war in Afghanistan with an adequate number of troops and a fresh strategy to prosecute the war,” Inhofe wrote in a message on his Web site.
“We must put aside the politics of the moment and seize this opportunity to allow our fighting men and women to finish the job in Afghanistan. Risking failure against the Taliban and Al Qaeda is not an option,” Inhofe said.
“We owe it to the thousands of U.S., NATO and Coalition forces who have given their lives on the battlefield to see the War in Afghanistan through to its successful conclusion while continuing to deny Islamic extremists a safe-haven in Afghanistan.”
Inhofe said with General McChrystal on the ground in Afghanistan and General David Petraeus leading the U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military has “two of the most experienced and capable combat leaders planning and executing operations. It’s time to listen to our commanders on the ground and make an absolute commitment to victory in Afghanistan.”
‘Listen to McChrystal’
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said President Obama has shown “admirable consistency” on Afghanistan until now, by continuing to pressure and disrupt al Qaeda leaders with the goal of preventing safe havens for terrorists. McConnell also praised Obama’s appointment of Gen. McChrystal to command U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
But in remarks on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell said "any failure to act decisively in response to General McChrystal’s request could serve to undermine the other good decisions the President has made. "
McConnell said commanders in the field know best what will work – and if McChrystal says more forces are needed, “We should listen to that advice.”
“The war ahead in Afghanistan won’t be easy,” McConnell admitted, given the resources that an effective counterinsurgency demands. “But the consequences of withdrawal, or even of a plan that’s more narrowly focused on developing Afghan security forces, would likely be worse, since neither plan will lead to the defeat of Al Qaeda or reverse the gains that the Taliban has made in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
McConnell said Gens. McChrystal and Petraeus should come to Washington “to explain to Congress and to the American people how their strategy will work.”
Giving up on Afghanistan “would all but ensure the terrorists have the ability to plan and carry out another attack from the very same place that they plotted and carried out the attacks of 9/11,” McConnell said. He also noted that al Qaeda in Pakistan “would serve as a magnet to every young man wishing to enter the jihad; and our ability to stop either of these frightening developments would be severely diminished.
“The President has said he will not allow these things to happen: For the sake of our long-term security, we should support the McChrystal Plan. Anything less would confirm Al Qaeda’s view that America lacks the strength and the resolve to endure a long war.”
‘Decisive force’ needed to win
In a Sept. 14 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal – a week before McChrystal’s report was leaked -- Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) called for “decisive force” to win the war in Afghanistan.
“Growing numbers of Americans are starting to doubt whether we should have troops in Afghanistan and whether the war there is even winnable” the three senators wrote.
“We are confident that not only is it winnable, but that we have no choice. We must prevail in Afghanistan.”
According to those three senators, “A middle path of muddling through is the real recipe for quagmire and loss of public support.”
They argued that a “resurgent Taliban, which is still allied with al Qaeda, is trying to restore its brutal regime and re-establish Afghanistan as a terrorist safe haven,” something that undermines U.S. national security.
“More troops will not guarantee success in Afghanistan, but a failure to send them is a guarantee of failure,” McCain, Graham and Lieberman wrote. They also said that Gen. McChrystal should be called to testify before Congress about his new strategy for Afghanistan and the resources needed to get the job done.
“This is a must-win war. And now is the time to commit the decisive military force necessary to prevail,” the senators wrote in their op-ed.
Democrats want ‘more trainers’
A number of Democrats, including Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, are reluctant to send more U.S. troops into combat in Afghanistan.
Levin said he agrees with General McChrystal that “additional resources will be required” in Afghanistan – but he wants to focus on enabling the Afghan army and police to secure the Afghan people.
According to Levin, “supplying more trainers” – from the U.S. military and NATO – “is the best recipe for success” in Afghanistan.