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Clinton on Afghanistan

An interview with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is slated to air on the NewsHour tonight and, according to an early transcript, here’s what she says in reaction to the McChrystal strategy review leak:

HILLARY CLINTON: I mean one of the points that the President has made continuously since taking office is that we’re going to be assessing, both our strategy and its implementation constantly. We’re not going to make a decision and then just let it go on autopilot. We think that it’s much better to be very open and robust in our deliberations. So what General McChrystal has done is to take a look from his perspective. He’s a new commander and he was asked to please give his best judgment. His memo is what’s called a classified pre-decisional assessment but it goes into the process. We have a really vigorous process through the NSC and the White House where we make our contributions and then of course decisions go to the president. I think the President said very well yesterday on his marathon talk show appearances that you know we need to have a clear view of the strategy and its implementation before we get to resources, and that’s the process we’re engaged in right now.

MARGARET WARNER: General McChrystal was very blunt saying if you want to do counter-insurgency, he needs more resources or the whole war will, quote, “likely result in failure.” Now is there anyone better positioned to give at least that kind of assessment than the commander you sent out there, or the president sent out there to do just that?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, but, without referencing General McChrystal’s report because it is classified, let me just say that we know, including our military colleagues that good governance is key to whether or not what we do has positive results. We know that getting it right in Pakistan and along the border is critical. So there’s not just one decision point — number of troops. It is part of a broader understanding of what are our true goals, how best can we move toward achieving them? We have a clear and critical objective of trying to disrupt and dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and their extremist allies and prevent a return to safe haven, and every piece of this has to fit together. We don’t even know yet who will be the president of Afghanistan so it’s, it’s not in any way to say that what General McChrystal, based on his expertise is presenting or asking for is not important. It’s critically important but it’s a part of the overall process and there are many other considerations that we have to take into account.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, one of the foremost counterinsurgency advocates in the Obama administration, gave a similar just-one-consideration-of-many statement to Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin.

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