McCain: White House’s lack of detailed Afghanistan plan ‘unacceptable’
PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) again criticized the White House on Tuesday, saying Congress has waited too long to see a detailed plan for Afghanistan.
“We expect — indeed, we require — a regular flow of detailed information about this war,” McCain said in his opening statement during a hearing on the Afghanistan plan in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the committee on Tuesday.
McCain declared that it was “bizarre” that Mattis and Dunford did not submit written testimony before the hearing started. That’s common practice for administration witnesses testifying before congressional committees.
“We want to be your partners,” McCain said. “But this committee will not be a rubber stamp for any policy or president. We must be well-informed. We must be convinced of the merits of the administration’s actions. And unfortunately, we still have far more questions than answers about this new strategy.”
Though he praised the president for unveiling his ideas, McCain said there has been no further information released since.
“In the six weeks since the president made his announcement, this committee, and the Congress more broadly, still does not know many of the crucial details of this strategy,” he said. “This is totally unacceptable.”
The senator said the lack of clarity from the White House has created more uncertainty in the nation’s longest war and in Afghanistan itself.
“The president said that our goal is still ‘to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban,’ but we still do not know what kind of settlement the administration seeks, on what timeline, what role the United States intends to play in bringing it about, or what role we expect other nations to play,” McCain said.
The senator also said he wanted to hear a better reasoning for sending an additional 3,500 American soldiers to Afghanistan to train and advise forces.
“We have yet to hear a compelling case for why this modest increase in U.S. forces will produce battlefield results that can significantly alter the Taliban’s calculus and create the conditions for political reconciliation when we could not bring about this goal with far more troops on the ground,” he said.
McCain concluded by wondering if the new plan would alter the way the U.S. interacts with Pakistan. Trump had threatened to withhold aid for the country and possibly introduce sanctions if it did not stop supporting terror groups.
“It is unclear to me if the administration believes any step or series of steps the United States might take will lead Pakistan to cease its support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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