Sen. Graham 'Just Stunned' by Karzai

S.C. senator says talk of strategy change a "disaster."

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2010— -- In an exclusive interview today on "This Week," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told anchor Christiane Amanpour that he was "just stunned" by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's comments to the Washington Post that took issue with a fundamental part of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy.

"You know Christiane, I'm just stunned," Graham said, noting that he had dinner with Karzai. "The focus of the article is the night raids. We were briefed by our military commanders that … we own the night, militarily, and are making huge impact on the Taliban, the insurgency as a whole."

"This didn't come up at all," he said.

"At the end of the day, there was no discussion about a difference between [Gen. David] Petraeus and Karzai in terms of strategy. I would just add this: If we cannot use night raids with our Afghan partners, then that's a big loss in terms of gaining security. The Petraeus strategy must be allowed to go forward for us to be successful," he said.

"The security gains are obvious. We're not there yet, but we're moving in the right direction. And to take the night raids off the table would be a disaster," Graham said.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Karzai lashed out at a key part of NATO's anti-insurgent strategy; the raids to kill and capture members of the insurgency.

"The raiding homes at night. Terrible. Terrible," he told the Post. "A serious cause of the Afghan people's disenchantment with NATO and with the Afghan government. Bursting into homes at night, arresting Afghans, this isn't the business of any foreign troops.

"The American people are well intentioned," Karzai told the Post.

Asked by the paper whether the U.S. government is similarly well-intentioned, Karzai said, "That has to be proven."

2011 Deadline

Amanpour asked Graham whether he believed U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan in significant numbers after next summer's White House deadline for a transition to Afghan security control.

In Need of a Reliable Partner

"Yes, I do. I think in the summer of 2011, we can bring some troops, but we're going to need a substantial number of troops in Afghanistan past that; 2014 is the right date to talk about. That's when Karzai suggests that Afghans will be in the lead," the senator said.

"Post-2014, when the Afghans hopefully get in the lead, it'd be great to have a couple of air bases there in perpetuity to help the Afghans to send the right signal to the regions," he said.

"But none of this is possible unless you have a reliable partner in the Afghan government."