A member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, spent the 4th of July in Afghanistan to observe how the transition of leadership from General Stanley McChrystal to General David Patraeus is taking shape. Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday , Graham said at this point he is cautiously optimistic. Graham says he is buoyed by the fact that despite the transition the morale among the forces is still high.
People were very disappointed that General McChrystal left. He was beloved by the troops. I’m very sad for him, but General Petraeus has hit he ground running and he is a hero among the troops. He knows the region better than any person I’ve ever met. People are now focused, they’re re-engaged, and they’re all behind General Patraeus.
Graham is hopeful that the July 2011 date to begin the withdrawal of American forces that has been mentioned by members of the Obama Administration is not etched in stone. Graham says if the Afghan people and the other peoples in the region believe that U.S. forces will start withdrawal procedures that soon, there will be no chance for victory.
If you send a signal to your enemies that you are going to leave on a certain date they will wait you out and people begin to hedge your bets and make side deals. It’s imperative that we let the world know, let the Afghan people know, the Taliban, Pakistan, all of out allies and our enemies, that we are not going to leave this country in chaos, that we are going to leave Afghanistan secure and stable. We’re here because it is in our vital national security interest to secure this country.