Obama Told Karzai US Efforts in Afghanistan Are Not “Open Ended“

President Barack Obama spoke with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Monday night for about an hour regarding plans to send 30,000 additional US troops to the region, White House officials disclosed Tuesday.

“President Obama underscored the need for more rapid development of the Afghan National Security Forces so that Afghans themselves can assume greater responsibility over the security of their country,” the White House press office said in a statement.

“The President also emphasized that US and international efforts in Afghanistan are not open ended and must be evaluated toward measurable and achievable goals within the next 18 to 24 months. Both Presidents agreed to redouble their efforts to improve the delivery of services to the Afghan people, particularly at the local level, and to reinvigorate economic development and investment, especially in the areas of agriculture, mining, water management, and energy.”

Moreover, “the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together to ensure stability in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. They also discussed a range of related issues, including security, governance, corruption, economic development, and regional relations.”

Some lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have been unwilling to back Obama’s plans to escalate the war because Karzai has not done enough to root out corruption in his government.

Last week, Sen. Arlen Specter, (D-Pennsylvania), in a conference call with reporters, said, “We ought not to add troops in Afghanistan – let alone remain in the country unless the Obama administration can prove that escalating the war is ‘indispensable to our fight against al-Qaeda.”

Specter said his decision was based in part on rampant corruption within Karzai’s administration as well as conversations he had with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Defense Secretary Gates; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and top intelligence officials. Moreover, Specter said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s failure to root out corruption in his government factored into his decision.

That was a sentiment shared by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who privately warned Obama in two classified cables he sent to the White House last month about deploying additional troops to Afghanistan because of widespread corruption in Karzai’s government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said Karzai was an “unworthy partner” whose country does not warrant additional US aid.