TRANSCRIPT: ABC News Exclusive Interview with President Barack Obama

OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that I've been asking not only General McChrystal, but all of our commanders who are familiar with the situation, as well as our civilian folks on the ground, a lot of questions that, until they're answered, may -- may create a situation in which we resource something based on faulty premises.

And I want to make sure that we have tested all the assumptions that we're making before we send young men and women into harm's way, that if we are sending additional troops that the prospects of a functioning Afghan government are enhanced, that the prospects of al Qaeda being able to attack the U.S. Homeland are reduced. You know, these

I have an obligation as commander-in-chief to make sure that whatever investments we make are leading to a safer United States, are sustainable, that we have a strategy to make sure that Afghans are carrying the burden of their own security, that we have an effective partnership with Pakistan that is working to achieve our goals in the entire region and that we're not working at cross purposes, that issues of corruption are dealt with, that we are identifying not just a national government in Kabul, but provincial government actors that have legitimacy in the right now.

So, there are a whole host of those questions that we have worked through systematically. I have gained confidence that there's not an important question out there that has not been asked and that we haven't asked -- that we haven't answered to the best of our abilities.

And as a consequence of the process that we've gone to, I feel much more confident that when I issue my orders, that not only do we have a better prospect of success and we are serving our men and women in uniform well, but that we are not also looking at an indefinite stay in -- where we have bought, essentially, a -- a permanent protectorate of Afghanistan that I think would be unsustainable.

TAPPER: A final question, and it will be very brief because I know you have some eager press aides here. You and the last president, you, in the last week, have gone to Dover...


TAPPER: You have gone to Walter Reed. Some people might say this would -- this (INAUDIBLE) experiences would cause you to be more reluctant to send troops into harm's way. Some might say that -- we know some of the families have said, you know, don't give up...


TAPPER: know, so that these people didn't die -- our sons and daughters didn't die for nothing. Other than underlining the gravity of the decision, does it have an impact on you?

OBAMA: It absolutely has an impact because it reminds me of the costs involved. And it reminds me that -- these aren't abstractions. The decisions that we make in this White House have consequences for our long-term security and they also have consequences for the individuals who are being deployed.

Now, as commander-in-chief, my job is not to just think in terms of one individual or short-term costs, but also what's required to prevent another 9/11, what's required to make sure that we're not seeing another USS Cole. And, you know, ultimately when I make a decision, it's going to be based on the over arching view of U.S. national security.

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