CBS: Sec. Clinton on Afghanistan Strategy

CQ Transcriptswire
Sunday, September 27, 2009; 12:30 PM

HARRY SMITH (Host): All right. Let's talk about Afghanistan for a couple of minutes.

General McChrystal made his report to President Obama. One of the things he says is there's a year window in which the United States has to act in order to ensure that the insurgency doesn't basically take over the country.

Do you agree with that assessment?

SEC. OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Well, let me just put General McChrystal's report into the broader context because it doesn't stand alone. It is part of a process. And let's look at what we've done during the last nine months under President Obama's leadership.

We inherited a situation. We didn't reject it out of hand. We didn't accept it out of hand. We engaged in a very thorough review. We reached some critical decisions, including looking at both Afghanistan and Pakistan together because, of course, the threat goes back and forth across the borders.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to going after Al Qaida, to dismantling, defeating them. We believe, and we've seen just this week here in New York; we believe that Al Qaida poses a direct threat to the United States, to friends and allies throughout the world.

So we are very clear about our mission. Our mission is to protect the United States and protect our friends and allies, and to go after the scourge of Al Qaida and related extremist groups.

Now, the decision that was made to add troops in the spring has not even been fully implemented yet. You know, you don't get up and just deploy the 82nd Airborne and they get there the next day. We are only now reaching the end of the deployment cycle.

We also know that, going hand in hand with our military strategy was our civilian strategy, a much more focused effort, a much more accountable one, dealing with the government of Afghanistan. So we not only saw the change of commanders in the military, we saw a change in our ambassador and a beefing up of the embassy in Kabul.

At the same time, Afghanistan is going through an election. This is not like an election, you know, in Western Europe or in the United States. To carry out an election under these circumstances was going to be difficult under any conditions.

It's not over yet. We have to wait until it is resolved -- hopefully, very soon, then make a new commitment about how we're going to meet our strategic goals. And it's going to be up to the president to determine how best to achieve that.

So, you know, General McChrystal, the new commander, was asked for his assessment. There's other input that's coming throughout the government that the president will take on board. But I think we ought to look at it in context.

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