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Not Ready to Throw in the Towel on Afghanistan


Fred Kagan is a brilliant scholar and I listen closely to his opinions. The first time I met Mr. Kagan, he was with his wife Kim touring some neighborhoods in South Baghdad. I also saw Mr. Kagan in Bahrain in December. He was attending the Manama Dialogue. We happened to step into an elevator at the same time. Needless to say, I took that opportunity to ask if I could talk with him privately. We talked for over two hours about Iraq and Afghanistan. It is very encouraging that Mr. Kagan believes success in Afghanistan is possible. The article Mr. Kagan published Monday on NRO deserves the widest dissemination. I was also encouraged to hear his positive take on Iraq, and also to read it today on NRO. I fully share Mr. Kagan’s positive outlook on Iraq, and I am not at all ready to throw in the towel on Afghanistan. I believe we can achieve some success in Afghanistan, but we must work much smarter from here out. We’ve got a President who says he is committed to Afghanistan. We’ve got an excellent and very wise secretary of defense who knows the issues as well as anyone. We’ve got Petraeus at CENTCOM and McKiernan in Afghanistan, supported by a very experienced and battle wise military. With all this, we can succeed in Afghanistan, but I do believe it’s important to downgrade our expectations. 


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