Former Defense Sec. Cohen Says Afghanistan Troop Decision Should Be Made Quickly

October 08, 2009

A former defense secretary says President Obama is right to carefully think over a decision on military commitment in Afghanistan - but he shouldn't think about it for too long.

Former Senator William Cohen of Maine served as secretary of defense for much of the Clinton Administration. Cohen told Focus 580's David Inge Thursday that in the Presidential campaign Obama encouraged greater concentration of troops in Afghanistan over Iraq, citing it as the home of al-Qaeda. Cohen says any decision to pull back there could further destabilize the region, and he needs to convey that to the American people and the nation's allies.

"Polls will change depending on what they (the voters) see and how he articulates the rationale for why we are there," said Cohen. "Can he persuade the American people that it is in our interest to prevent al-Qaeda from coming back in or the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan? Because if they do that, it may mean the destabilization of Pakistyan, which has many nuclear weapons."

Cohen believes the US military is not equipped enough to fight a long-term counter-insurgency in Afghanistan because it's not winning hearts and minds there.

Story source: AP