October 26, 2009

Excerpts From Senator John Kerry's Speech On Afghanistan

The Current Debate Is Fundamentally Flawed

"In recent weeks, politics has reduced an extraordinarily complex country and mission to a simple, headline-ready "yes or no" on troop numbers. That debate is completely at odds with reality. What we need, above all, what our troops deserve-- and what we haven't had-- is a comprehensive strategy, military and civilian combined."

A Smarter Approach

"I am convinced from my conversations with General Stanley McChrystal that he understands the necessity of conducting a smart counterinsurgency in a limited geographic area. But I believe his current plan reaches too far, too fast. We do not yet have the critical guarantees of governance and development capacity. I also have serious concerns about the ability to produce effective Afghan forces to partner with, so we can ensure that when our troops make heroic sacrifices, the benefits to the Afghans are clear and sustainable."

Three Conditions

We should not provide additional troops to a new area without meeting three conditions:

  • "First, are there enough reliable Afghan forces to partner with American troops—and eventually to take over responsibility for security? The quickest way out of Afghanistan for our troops is to speed up the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Army and police so that they can defend their own country."
  • "The second question to ask is, are there local leaders we can partner with? We must be able to identify and cooperate with tribal, district and provincial leaders who command the authority to help deliver services and restore Afghans' faith in their own government."
  • "Third, is the civilian side ready to follow swiftly with development aid that brings tangible benefits to the local population? When they support our troops, Afghans need to see their lives improve."

The President Decides

"Under the right circumstances, if we can be confident that military efforts can be sustained and built upon, then I would support the President should he decide to send some additional troops to regain the initiative. Let me be clear: Absent an urgent strategic imperative, we need a valid assessment by the President and other appropriate civilian authorities - not just the military -- that those three conditions will be met before we consider sending more soldiers and Marines to clear new areas."