'A troublesome election'
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me ask Senator Chambliss. What would you be telling the president about troops, if that's what he -- if General McChrystal is asking for them, and about what Senator Levin just said, about helping support the Afghan forces?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, R-Ga.: Well, Jeff, I would tell him that he needs to listen to his commanders on the ground. He's got very good military minds in place, with Admiral Mullen, with General Petraeus, General Odierno in Iraq, and now General McChrystal in Afghanistan.
And he's put them in the right positions. He obviously has a lot of confidence in them. And if General McChrystal says that we need to devise a strategy that's different from what we're doing right now and if we're going to be successful with that strategy, we need more troops, I think it's incumbent on the president to put the kind of faith in his commanding generals to go ahead and authorize additional troops.
And I do agree with Carl that just putting troops out there is not going to guarantee success. General McChrystal has been very clear about that in his report.
But he does say that it is going to require more troops to train Afghans. We've got some difficult pockets of the Taliban in Afghanistan that have got to be uprooted, much like we did in Ramadi and Diyala and other provinces in Iraq.
And we're going to have to do that ultimately to be successful militarily. But just sending more troops is not going to do it. But if General McChrystal says he's got to have more troops with the new strategy in place, then I think we're going to have to send more troops to him.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask Senator Levin, how much is Hamid Karzai and the election a complicating factor in the decision as to the American commitment here? How do you make the link between the political situation there and the military situation?
SEN. CARL LEVIN: Well, it obviously complicates it. And one of the reasons why the president wants to take some additional time is to hear not just from General McChrystal about the impact of that election, but also from others on that question.
That was an election which was supposed to go smoothly when the strategy was first put in place back in March. They assumed that the election would go smoothly. It hasn't, and that complicates the strategy.
And it is important to listen to the commander in the field, and including on what is the effect of an election which was marked by significant fraud, on what steps we should now be taking.
But in addition to listening to General McChrystal, which is important, he ought to be listening to his commander, General Petraeus. He ought to be listening to their commander, Admiral Mullen, who's the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and, of course, ultimately, to the secretary of defense.
These are important people in the chain of command. They all deserve to be heard very carefully by the president. Prior to the decision in Iraq to send additional combat forces, there was a three-month debate inside of the Bush administration.
So when the president wants to take some weeks here to take a look at this strategy following that election that you referred to, which is a troublesome election, I think we should not begrudge the president that kind of time and consideration.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Senator Chambliss, how do you factor in the Karzai -- the election? Is there a point, for example, where we might have to say that this election lacked legitimacy to the point where President Karzai might have to step aside if the U.S. is to up the ante, in terms of forces?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Well, certainly, I think that would be difficult for us to do. The presumption is that the Iraqi people had the opportunity -- or, excuse me, the Afghan people had the opportunity to go out and vote. We know for a fact that it didn't go like it should have. It was not a free and open election.
But beyond that, this government of Karzai is just so corrupt. And the corruptness has got to be cleared up at the end of the day in order for there to be any confidence on the part of the Iraqi people that there's going to be stability there.
You have to remember, though, that when the surge was initiated in Iraq, the Maliki government was not very stable. We didn't have the corruptness there that we see in Afghanistan. But the government itself was not particularly steady.
Once we had the security of the country in place, then all of a sudden you saw the Iraqi people get on board with our troops, get on board with our philosophy, get on board with the Maliki government, and we've seen much more stability in the government of Iraq.
Until we have security in Afghanistan, I just doubt that you're going to see any confidence in the Karzai government. And at some point, we're going to have to root out that corruptness. Otherwise, it's going to be doomed to failure.