December 1, 2009
“It is clear that we face an enormous and difficult challenge in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups in the region have a complex set of relationships spanning across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and these ideologies pose a grave threat to the United States and our allies. If the Taliban were to regain control of substantial portions of Afghanistan, or recapture the government they would provide al-Qaeda a safe haven from which to operate, and we can not allow this to happen.
“At the same time we face the limitation of what an outside force can accomplish in a nation like Afghanistan, the deficiencies of our current partners in the Afghan Government, and the cost in lives and dollars of our presence in Afghanistan. Ultimately, I believe that we need a strategy to contain the threat in this region. A strategy that recognizes we cannot completely eliminate the Taliban or completely rebuild Afghanistan, but one that focuses on building the capabilities of Afghanistan’s security forces and improves the effectiveness of the Afghan Government. By focusing on these key elements, we can not only contain the threat posed by the Taliban and al-Qaeda but also reduce and eventually eliminate our presence in Afghanistan.
“I believe the President outlined such a plan tonight. It will not be easy, and I will continue to closely monitor the progress of this effort, but I believe the President made a strong case tonight that is worthy of our support.”