Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Rove: Bush Administration Never Rejected A Request For More Troops From Afghanistan Commanders

By Amanda Terkel  

"Rove: Bush Administration Never Rejected A Request For More Troops From Afghanistan Commanders"

Share:

google plus icon

This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, former Bush adviser Karl Rove advised President Obama to “pay very close attention to the people you have put in command of the operation in Afghanistan” for their recommendations on strategy. Host Diane Sawyer than pointed out that if we’re listening to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, they’re saying that “the reason we’re in the situation we’re in now is that this war was under-resourced, including during the Bush administration years.”

Rove quickly disputed those comments, saying, “I don’t believe that at the time, the military was saying we need significantly more. If there had been that cry, I suspect the previous administration would have been very responsive to it.” When Sawyer asked him if he was blaming the generals for not asking for more troops, Rove replied:

ROVE: No, I’m not. No. No. No. I’m saying that the United States had what, at the time, the military felt was an appropriate level of resources, and in retrospect, everybody now, says, I suspect, I wish we would have been doing more because the enemy, particularly as Iraq got better, the jihadists and al Qaeda needed a place to go, and they went to the Horn of Africa and they went to Pakistan and began to revitalize the efforts to attack Afghanistan.

As that grew, additional resources were sent by this administration and the previous administration to Afghanistan. But in retrospect, I think a lot of military experts say, we wish we would have been doing more. But that wasn’t what was going on at the time.

Watch it:

In 2008, Gen. David D. McKiernan, then the top U.S. commander in Kabul, specifically asked the Bush administration for more troops for Afghanistan, but was rebuffed:

“There was a saying when I got there: If you’re in Iraq and you need something, you ask for it,” McKiernan said in his first interview since being fired. “If you’re in Afghanistan and you need it, you figure out how to do without it.” By late last summer, he decided to tell George W. Bush’s White House what he knew it did not want to hear: He needed 30,000 more troops. He wanted to send some to the country’s east to bolster other U.S. forces, and some to the south to assist overwhelmed British and Canadian units in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

The Bush administration opted not to act on McKiernan’s request and instead set out to persuade NATO allies to contribute more troops.

The war in Iraq was the main reason that Afghanistan was under-resourced. In July 2008, Mullen said, “I don’t have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq.” Military officials have said that the Taliban was pretty much gone in 2002, but regrouped when the Bush administration decided to shift resources and invade Iraq.

Transcript:

SAWYER: I want to turn to another big topic on the table at the White House, of course, Afghanistan and will there be a change in strategy there. George Will, as you know, a member of your team, has said a 40,000 troop increase will not be enough, and that they should concentrate instead on other approaches. The additional troops will not be enough and will not work. If you were advising the President, what would you tell him?

ROVE: I’d be saying, pay very close attention to the people you have put in command of the operation in Afghanistan. Listen closely to what they have to say about what they think they need in order to achieve the mission that you have defined for them, Mr. President, in March of this year. President Obama made very tough speech in March in which he outlined the consequences to the country and our world if Afghanistan returned to the way it was in the 1990s — a failed state.

So I’d say, give the commanders on the ground the closest attention, ask them tough questions, ask them to explain their positions, but listen carefully to what they suggest needs to be done in order to achieve the goals that you outlined in March.

SAWYER: Speaking of those commanders, Adm. McMullen [sic], who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and also Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is head of the operation in Afghanistan, have both said that the reason we’re in the situation we’re in now is that this war was under-resourced, including during the Bush administration years. Let me play what they said first:

[VIDEO] McCHRYSTAL: It’s been eight years. Why isn’t it better? … We’ve under-resourced our operations.

MULLEN: This has been a mission that has not been well-resourced; it’s been under-resourced almost since it’s inception, certainly in recent years. And part of why it has gotten more serious and deteriorated has been tied to that. [END VIDEO]

SAWYER: Did the Bush administration drop the ball on resourcing the war in Afghanistan?

ROVE: Well, I don’t — I think we’ve got to look at it in a more sophisticated way. I think that these questions — these answers become clear in retrospect. I don’t believe that at the time, the military was saying we need significantly more. If there had been that cry, I suspect the previous administration would have been very responsive to it.

There is a concern about were our NATO partners meeting their responsibility? We had prescribed a certain level of activity that we wanted NATO and the United States together, our coalition partners, to meet, and we felt in the previous administration, that our coalition partners were not meeting their responsibilities. It’s an attitude shared by the current administration, which remember, went to NATO earlier this year — President Obama did — and asked for additional resources and was rebuffed. It’s one of the reasons the Bush administration added additional resources to Afghanistan, it’s why President Obama added additional resources to Afghanistan.

SAWYER: So you’re saying it was the generals’ fault that they didn’t ask for more troops?

ROVE: No, I’m not. No. No. No. I’m saying that the United States had what, at the time, the military felt was an appropriate level of resources, and in retrospect, everybody now, says, I suspect, I wish we would have been doing more because the enemy, particularly as Iraq got better, the jihadists and al Qaeda needed a place to go, and they went to the Horn of Africa and they went to Pakistan and began to revitalize the efforts to attack Afghanistan.

As that grew, additional resources were sent by this administration and the previous administration to Afghanistan. But in retrospect, I think a lot of military experts say, we wish we would have been doing more. But that wasn’t what was going on at the time.

‹ Sheriff Joe Arpaio Mistakes Hate Group’s Legal Analysis For Law When Defending Racial Profiling

Hannah: Iranians Will (Privately) Greet Us As Liberators! ›

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.