9 Questions with Senator Jim Webb

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7. Afghanistan

RCP: Switching regions of the world to the Middle East, Afghanistan specifically. Can you talk about the risks of sending additional troops into a landlocked nation?

Webb: Well, point number one, we need to have a clearly articulated strategy. I believe this administration is committed to doing that, with the special emissary and everything else. But a clearly articulated strategy will help us clarify what it is that we really want these people to do and when we will know that it's over. That will focus what we're supposed to be doing in the country. On the one hand you have terrorism. On the other hand you have a huge drug problem -- many would say a narco-state. On another we have people who believe that we could move Afghanistan toward a Democratic system. On another we have this odd situation with Iran -- where if you go on the other side of Iran, we're saying Iran is the greatest destabilizing effect on Iraq, and then we get to Afghanistan and we're talking about putting NATO supply lines through Iran. So we need a clearly articulated strategy.

And then, if we are going to increase, which is basically your question, the most vulnerable part of our operational policy is the supply lines. I mentioned this to Secretary Gates in September when he testified, when we were first seeing the interruption of these convoys in Pakistan. About 80 percent of the logistical supplies that go into Afghanistan go through Pakistan, and we don't operate militarily in Pakistan, obviously. So I've heard estimates as high as 50 percent of the convoys that go through Pakistan have had problems and had stuff taken from them. So the more people you have in Afghanistan, the more strategically vulnerable you are to supply lines that are either going to through Pakistan, Iran or the northern Stans, which basically are under the influence of Russia. It's a very odd situation to be in.

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