Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 11/30/09

Nov 30, 2009 2:26pm

TAPPER:  When more troops are sent into a country, inevitably it results in more casualties, when the military presence and fighting is increased. Is the president going to — is that going to be part of the president's message tomorrow, to prepare the American people for the fact that, while an exit strategy exists, the next year or two is going to be perhaps bloodier than even the last six months?
  
GIBBS:  Well, I — and we've discussed this before. I think the amount of sacrifice that we've seen from the men and women that we have there already is something that I know the president is assured by each and every day. I think — you know, he signs letters of condolence.  He meets with the families of those that have been killed.  Obviously, the trip to Dover is something that I doubt you ever truly forget.  I think the president will reiterate the importance of why we're there, but also, by all means, very early on, acknowledge the tremendous cost and sacrifice to our men and women in uniform.  I don't think there's any doubt that we are all in awe of — of the commitment from our military and our civilian side in order to get this right.
 
TAPPER:  And just in terms of defining our terms, where does making sure that we have a stable Afghan partner and — and nation- building begin?  What's the line? Is it just — is it just a question of our responsibility, U.S. responsibility being training Afghan troops?  It's just — that's the safe and secure part, the safe and stable partner part? Because we've heard a lot about what the U.S. intends to do, and I know you don't want to get ahead of the president's speech, but just in terms — if you could define the terms a little for us.

GIBBS:  Well, I — I guess I would more ask you to — I don't — I'm unclear as to what continuum you're putting.  Are you asking me to — to put them on a certain…
  
TAPPER:  Well, the president has said about the new strategy that it's important that we have a secure, stable ally in the Afghan…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
GIBBS:  Right. Well, and a partner that is — and a partner that understands, as the president directly told President Karzai in a telephone call in the Oval Office, that it is time to turn — it's time for a new chapter in our relationship as it relates to corruption and improved governance in order to address the security situation not just through training and security force needs, but also — look, it's hard for a civilian — it's hard for civilians to go in and improve areas — it's impossible — that aren't secure.  So I would say this is all part of what has to be a partnership. And I think anybody would tell you that — that — and I've said this, and I think, quite frankly, you've seen this from Democrats and Republicans in Congress — without partners that are willing to do stuff in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, no number of American troops can solve all of those problems unless or until those steps are taken inside both of those countries where we see a change in the security situation.
 
TAPPER:  So a "stable partner" means a partner that is willing to have its own troops step up.
  
GIBBS:  Well…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
TAPPER:  It doesn't mean a thriving democracy.  It doesn't mean a great economy.  It doesn't mean schools — schools for girls.
  
GIBBS:  Well look, I think first — first and foremost — first and foremost, we have to have a partner that can identify, recruit, retain a security force and a police force that are able to take improved security — an improved security environment and eventually hold that area.  Once that area is cleared, that area then has to be held. Ultimately, the strategy will be to transfer the security responsibility of an area to the Afghans.  That — that is a big part of what you'll hear the president talk about tomorrow.
  
TAPPER:  But that's what we want from the Afghan government.
  
GIBBS:  That's — I would say that's a big part of it, yes.

-jpt

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