Karl Rove Says Allies, Not Bush Team, Shortchanged Afghan War

"GMA" Exclusive: Former Bush adviser defends Bush strategy in Afghanistan.

ByABC News via logo
October 15, 2009, 7:06 AM

Oct. 15, 2009— -- The U.S. generals fighting the war in Afghanistan were given what the Bush administration believed were "appropriate" resources, but U.S. allies failed to fullfill their commitments to the Afghan war, former Bush adviser Karl Rove said today.

"The United States had at the time what the military felt was an appropriate level of resources and in retrospect, everybody now says we wish we would've done more," Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush, said on "Good Morning America" today. "We felt, in the previous administation, that our coalition partners were not meeting their responsibilities."

The Fox News contributor disputed comments by top military leaders such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen that the previous administration under-resourced the operation in Afghanistan.

In the weeks after al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to route the Taliban regime and the leadership of al Qaeda.

Taliban rule was quickly smashed, but in the eight years since then while the U.S. concentrated on Iraq, Afghan militants staged a comeback and now control about 80 percent of the country. President Obama is considering whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, which McChrystal has said is necessary to avoid losing the war.

Rove says the Bush administration provided as many resources as they thought were needed in the country at the time, but that it was the United States' partners who were not meeting their responsibilities.

"I think we've got to look at it in a more sophisticated way. These answers become clear in retrospect. I don't believe at the time the military was saying we need significantly more. If there had been that cry, I expect the administration -- the previous administration -- would have been very responsive to it," Rove told "GMA's" Diane Sawyer. "There was a concern about were our NATO partners meeting their responsibility."

The Republican guru said he would advise Obama to listen to his commanders on the ground, "ask them tough questions, ask them to explain their positions," but "listen carefully to what they suggest be done to achieve the goals" outlined by the White House.

Rove has been forefront in his criticism of the current administration's policies, while defending his former employer's strategies.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Rove assailed Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus' health care bill for levying new taxes and cutting Medicare. He also called the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimates on revenues from the proposed excise tax "nonsense" and criticized Obama for not being clear and credible in selling his overhaul plan to the public.

"Ironically, the president who never stopped campaigning hasn't made the sale to Americans because he's forgotten a central rule of campaigning: Your arguments have to be clear and credible if voters are to believe them," Rove wrote. "His attempt to sell health care is neither. He still may win passage of a bill, but he's lost the public's enthusiastic backing."

Rove has also said that conservatives need a concise plan of their own to counter Democrats' legislation and "Obamacare."