U.S. lawmakers press Obama on Afghan war strategy
President Barack Obama told congressional leaders on Tuesday his decision on a new Afghan war strategy would not make everyone happy, while Republicans urged him to heed his military commander's call for more troops, Reuters reported.
Obama summoned key Democratic and Republican lawmakers for a meeting at the White House to hash out their views on how to overhaul strategy in the eight-year war, where the military says the Taliban has the momentum in the unpopular conflict.
Obama told the meeting his decision, to be announced in the coming weeks, would be based on what he thought would be the best way to prevent future attacks on the United States and its allies, a U.S. official said.
"He also made it clear that his decision won't make everybody in the room or the nation happy, but underscored his commitment to work on a collaborative basis," the official said.
At the heart of the debate within the Obama administration is whether it would be best to send more troops to Afghanistan and work to earn the trust of the Afghan people or to more narrowly focus the war effort using airstrikes against al Qaeda targets.
Republican Senator John McCain warned Obama against "half measures" and urged him to implement a plan by the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who wants as many as 40,000 more troops and trainers to fight the war.
"I am very convinced that General McChrystal's analysis is not only correct but should be employed as quickly as possible," McCain told reporters after the 90-minute meeting.
"There is no middle ground," said McCain, who lost the election to Obama last year.
Democrats countered that Obama was being responsible by taking his time to decide on a strategy in Afghanistan.
"We all realize the important decision the president has to make. Eight solders were killed on Sunday, one of them was from Reno, Nevada," said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada.