Dennis Blair: ‘Going to Take More Time’ to Say Afghanistan Surge Worked

By Eliza

Jun 22, 2011 3:53pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:

President Obama’s announcement of the beginning of the end of the Afghanistan “surge” isn’t tantamount to a declaration of victory, since it’s too soon to say that the surge has accomplished its goals, Obama’s former intelligence chief said today.

Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, who served as the president’s Director of National Intelligence until last May, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that the number of troops leaving isn’t all that important.

“The question is how are we doing on making Afghanistan a place from which the United States will not be attacked in the future, as we have been in the past,” Blair told us.

On that count, it’s too soon to declare the war in Afghanistan a success, Blair said. He said it’s not accurate to think about the war as a decade-long slog, since the new strategy has been fully in place less than a year.

“Those 10 years have not been 10 years of the intensity of operations that we have had in the last nine months or so,” he said. “I think it's going to take more time before we know for sure if we've achieved our objectives there.”

He continued: “I think the American people are owed a report on whether there's progress in the right direction there. And based on what I see, based on what I read, we are making progress, and so I think we need to sustain that. A few thousand troops more or less is not the issue. The issue is, are we bringing Afghanistan to a place where it can govern itself safely?”

Blair is now working on national security issues through a slightly different lens. He’s working with the group Securing America’s Future Energy, which is pressing lawmakers on solutions that provide more American-produced energy.

“The high and increasing prices of oil that we're seeing, and that we're likely to see in the future, are just undermining this country's national security,” Blair said. “They lie at the root of putting large numbers of troops into faraway places, like the Middle East.”

“We're just sacrificing basic American national security interests that we need to regain control of. So that's the national security imperative for doing something about our oil imports.”

Though few see hope for a comprehensive energy bill emerging from Congress, Blair said he’s still optimistic for action.

“Of the issues that the Hill is dealing with, energy is the one that is perhaps the most bipartisan,” he said. “So if there is an issue that Congress can work on, this is it. And I think that there's a good chance that it can happen.”

Watch more from the interview with Dennis Blair HERE.

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