(Reuters) - Candidates Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have expressed many differences and some agreement in their stated policies toward Afghanistan and Pakistan ahead of the November 4 U.S. presidential election.
Here are some comments from Obama and McCain, and their respective vice presidential nominees, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, made in televised debates.**
“General McKiernan, the commander in Afghanistan right now, is desperate for more help, because our bases and outposts are now targets for more aggressive Afghan/Taliban offences.”
“We’re ... going to have to work with the Karzai government, and when I met with President Karzai, I was very clear that, ‘You are going to have to do better by your people in order for us to gain the popular support that’s necessary’.” (October 7)
“We have to double the size of the Afghan army. We have to have a streamlined NATO command structure. We have to do a lot of things. We have to work much more closely with the Pakistanis.”
“But most importantly, we have to have the same strategy (as in Iraq of a U.S. troop buildup).” (October 7)
“Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan ... He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.” (October 2)
“The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the Bush administration.” (October 2)
“There have been 20,000 additional troops, from 32,000 to 53,000, and there needs to be more. It’s not just the addition of troops that matters ... Pakistan is a very important element in this.” (September 26)
“We have seen Afghanistan worsen, deteriorate. We need more troops there. We need more resources there ... I would send two to three additional brigades to Afghanistan.” (September 26)
“If the United States has al Qaeda, (Osama) bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.” (September 26)
“(Obama) said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan. Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.” (September 26)
”We need to help the Pakistani government go into Waziristan ... and get the support of the people, and get them to work with us and turn against the cruel Taliban and others. (October 7)
“We’re going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.” (October 7)
** The third and final presidential candidates' debate on October 15 will focus on domestic and economic policy. See the Commission on Presidential Debates website for debate transcripts: www.debates.org.
Writing by Gillian Murdoch, Beijing Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Paul Tait