Powell to Obama: ‘Take your time’ on Afghanistan
In an interview Wednesday with columnist Roland S. Martin, Gen. Colin Powell said that on the issue of sending additional troops to Afghanistan he had advised President Obama to “take your time” and “not be rushed into a decision.”
“This one is the decision that will have consequences for years to come,” Powell said he’d told the president. “If you decide to send more troops … make sure you have good understanding of what those troops are going to be doing and some assurance that the additional troops will be successful.”
“You’ve got to make sure that you are putting this commitment on a solid base,” continued Powell, “and the base is a little soft right now. … Karzai’s been told he’s got to do something about this [corruption], and he’s got to do something about the drug problem, and he’s got to start pulling the Afghan people together.”
“So Mr. President, don’t get pressed by the left to do nothing, don’t get pushed by the right to do everything,” Powell concluded. :You take your time and you figure it out. You’re the commander in chief and this is what you’re elected for.”
A new CNN poll shows that Americans are almost evenly divided over whether Obama is taking too long to reach a decision on Afghanistan, with men agreeing that he is and women saying he should be given more time. A majority of those polled, however, oppose a buildup and even more are against the war itself.
Despite some recent claims that President Obama has already decided on a substantial troop increase, the White House insists that no such decision has been made. When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for example, stated that he expected Obama “to announce in a few days what his numbers for Afghanistan will be,” a White House spokesman responded that the decision was still weeks away.
An article in Tuesday’s New York Times indicates that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen have all been pressing for a substantial troop increase, but Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel “remained skeptical of the value of a buildup.” The president himself was described by the Times as being “unsatisfied” with answers he has received on “how vigorously the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan would help execute a new strategy.”
The following audio is Tom Joyner Morning Show, broadcast on Nov. 11, 2009.