By Michael O'Brien - 10/04/09 02:58 PM EDT
President Barack Obama will make a decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan in "a matter of weeks," his national security advisor said Sunday.
Retired Gen. James L. Jones, who serves as national security advisor, said that the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is in no imminent danger of failure, and that the president would consider a variety of broad, strategic directions to pursue before determining whether he would grant a top general's request for more troops.
"We have time on the president's schedule," Jones said. "He's going to devote an enormous amount of his time to lead us do this."
During interviews on CBS and CNN's "State of the Union," Jones explained that the president would be consulting with top military and civilians leadership in determining how to proceed in Afghanistan in light of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation to send more troops, lest the eight-year effort in that country fail.
"At the end of the day, the right way to do this is to present the president with a set of options on what he can do," Jones said on CBS.
"In the coming weeks, we will have vigorous debates," Jones said on CNN. "There will be alternative views presented, and I'm quite sure we'll come up with the right solution."
Republican lawmakers have urged Obama to act quickly on the president's recommendation for more troops, while the president's Democratic allies in Congress have been less demanding of a quick decision.
Jones emphasized that the president would not take into consideration the political popularity of any decision when coming to conclusions about strategy going forward.
"I don't play politics, and I certainly don't play it with national security, neither does anyone else I know," Jones said on CNN. "I can assure you that the president of the United States is not playing to any political base."
Jones seemed to temper, though, the arguments from McChrystal and Republicans that Afghanistan could fail quickly without more troops. While Jones didn't tip the administration's hand in terms of a decision, he said that Afghanistan was at no imminent risk of failing.
"The good news that Americans should at least feel good about is that the al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The problem is the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border," Jones told CNN. "But I don't foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling."
The National Security Advisor also stressed that the decision Obama makes will take into account factors more broad than McChrystal's troop recommendation.
"I think the end is much more complicated than adding X number of troops," he said. "It would be unwise to rush to a final judgment here."