— CSPAN (@cspan) June 13, 2017
While then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called the war in Afghanistan a “mistake,” the president’s administration has since pursued a strategy of escalation that would leave American troops deployed in the country for some time. Judging by Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) line of questioning to Defense Secretary James Mattis at Tuesday’s Armed Services Committee hearing, however, it seems both men recognize the White House’s current approach — or lack thereof — isn’t working. Or as McCain described the situation, which Mattis subsequently confirmed, “We’re not winning in Afghanistan.”
“I hope you understand that we’re going to start getting more vocal in our criticism of not having a strategy for Afghanistan,” said McCain. “Do you agree that we’re not winning in Afghanistan?” Mattis, while acknowledging the committee’s “urgency” in pursuing their questions and criticisms, admitted the U.S. military was “not winning in Afghanistan right now,” adding: “We will correct this as soon as possible.” Yet despite the two men’s obvious respect for one another and restraint regarding the topic, the senator couldn’t help referencing the current administration’s apparent mishandling of the matter.
“We’re now six months into this administration. We still haven’t got a strategy for Afghanistan. It makes it hard for us to support you when we don’t have a strategy,” continued McCain. “There are problems within this administration. I was confident that, within the first 30 to 60 days, we would have a strategy on which to start working. All I can tell you is that unless we get a strategy from you, you’re going to get a strategy from us.”