Menu
Home

Politics

Senate

McCain Questions U.S. Diplomatic Team's Cooperation in Afghanistan

mccain_120109.jpg

Sen. John McCain, right, speaks on Capitol Hill Dec. 1, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Sen. Lamar Alexander. (AP Photo)

Sen. John McCain says he is concerned that the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan may not be a team player and could stir trouble as the military enacts President Obama's plan to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to the country over six months. 

The 2008 Republican presidential candidate suggested Wednesday that leaked cables from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry that expressed reservations about a troop increase could speak to deeper problems and tension at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Eikenberry is a retired general who twice served President Bush in Afghanistan.

When they were leaked last month, the cables threw a wrench in the already arduous and lengthy decision-making process for Obama's national security team. 

"I have concerns about the civil side, within the embassy in Kabul. As you know the ambassador from there sent cables that were leaked that opposed the additional surge in Afghanistan," McCain told Fox News on Wednesday. 

The Arizona senator, who supports Obama's decision to send more troops but questions his decision to set a date for withdrawal, first raised his concerns about the diplomatic team on Tuesday afternoon. 

"I remain concerned about the civil-military side of it -- of the strategy, which has a lot to do with our embassy and civilian leadership in Kabul, which I hope will be addressed soon," he said. 

McCain acknowledged Wednesday that the military escalation is only one part of the war effort and needs a capable civilian effort to build the economic and political infrastructure in Afghanistan. 

But during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday that featured Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, McCain said a unified plan includes not only one that joins Afghan and U.S. forces, but one that joins U.S. military and diplomatic leaders.

"I'm also concerned by reports of divisions in our embassy, and by major differences between our commander and our ambassador," McCain said. 

"We can only succeed in Afghanistan if we have a joint civil-military campaign plan -- unified at every level, from top to bottom -- much as Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker and General (David) Petraeus established in Iraq during the surge. I look forward to hearing what progress we are making on creating such a joint civil-military effort."

Asked about the disconnect, Clinton said her team is entirely on board.

"There is no division, there is absolute unity and a commitment to carrying out the mission," she said.