US and NATO efforts in Afghanistan suffer from a crippling “lack of clarity” about their ultimate goal and sputtering progress on the ground, a top US lawmaker warned Wednesday.
“There is substantial concern about our course in Afghanistan,” said Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of his party’s most respected elder statesmen on international affairs.
US President Barack Obama must make clear what he hopes to achieve, how, and by when, and do more to clarify what will happen by his self-imposed July 2011 deadline for starting a withdrawal of US forces, said Lugar.
“Absent a major realignment on the ground, it is unrealistic to expect that a significant downsizing of US forces could occur at that time without security consequences,” the senator warned.
But “the lack of clarity in Afghanistan does not end with the president’s timetable. Both civilian and military operations in Afghanistan are proceeding without a clear definition of success,” he added.
Lugar — in a statement to be delivered later in the day as the foreign relations committee grilled Richard Holbrooke, special US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan — urged Obama to act before a planned December strategic review.
“I am hopeful that the administration will not wait six months to refine its explanation of our goals in Afghanistan. It is up to the president to define success, and delineate how much time and how many resources should be devoted to achieving it,” the lawmaker said in a statement.