Lindsey Graham: Don’t Rumsfeld Afghanistan’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that more U.S. troops would be needed to fight in Afghanistan to prevent the same mistakes that sent Iraq into a tailspin. But Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said that before the U.S. commits to deploying more forces, NATO allies must step up.“Don’t Rumsfeld Afghanistan,— Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,— referring to George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In Iraq, he said, Rumsfeld didn’t send enough troops to the country initially, so Iraqi security was in peril until a 2007 surge of more forces. Levin said he would listen to U.S. commanders but wants to see NATO and the Afghan army play a role to ensure the country doesn’t breed more terrorists.The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a key focus, Levin said, because that is where the terrorists who planned the attacks of 9/11 were trained.“We cannot allow that border to become a safe haven again,— Levin said. The U.S. must transfer this responsibility as quickly as possible to the Afghan army, he added.Graham, who also sits on the Armed Services panel, said he would be “shocked— if U.S. commanders on the ground don’t request more troops. And now that Iraq is more stable because of the surge, he said, Afghanistan is now “the central battle front in the war on terror.—Graham agreed with Levin that NATO allies need to send more troops to secure the region.Levin said the Afghan army, which currently has 80,000 troops, needs to build its ranks to 250,000.“I don’t think we should commit at this point to more [U.S.] troops because it takes NATO allies off the hook and takes some of the pressure off the Afghans themselves,— he said.Levin also said the U.S. needs to shut down the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, because it is a threat to U.S. security.“Guantánamo has been used by terrorists as a training tool,— he said.