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Tim Pawlenty on War & Peace

Republican MN Governor


We should withdraw from Afghanistan more slowly

Q: With casualties mounting in Afghanistan, and costs adding up, is it still worth it?

PAWLENTY: We were justified in the invasion. It was 10 years ago. People killed Americans. We needed to go there, find them, bring them to justice or kill them. But in terms of where we are now, 10 years removed, I was last there last summer and met with Gen. Petraeus. He thought would it take two years from last summer to have an orderly and successful wind down of our mission in Afghanistan, at leas in terms of significant troop withdrawal. Pres. Obama has accelerated that faster than the generals recommended. I would have accepted their recommendations and drawn them down a little slower.

Q: [to Santorum]: So it is still worth it?

SANTORUM: It is still worth it. But we are going to have to have a successful draw down, not one according to Barack Obama's campaign calendar next year.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

Arbitrary deadline in Iraq shouldn't supersede common sense

In 2009, I visited Iraq. The US plan was to draw military personnel in Iraq down to 50,000 by Sep. 1, 2010, and to zero by the end of 2011. A new Iraqi government would be formed by then. Great progress had been made. But after coming so far, we need to make sure arbitrary deadlines don't supersede common sense. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed too much of their time, talent and blood to let Iraq slide backward--even if it means keeping a small number of troops in that country awhile longer.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.290 , Jan 11, 2011

2008: Ok to take out bin Laden despite civilian casualties

In 2008, McCain sent a vetting team to interview for V.P. The first question right out of the gate was, "If you were the President and US intelligence officials told you they knew where Osama bin Laden was and that we could take him out in the next four hours with reasonable probability, but there would be a likelihood of some civilian casualties, would you do it? Seriously. I replied without hesitation. "Yes." He prompted me to say more on the subject, and it was immediately clear they weren't here to ask me questions about grade school or whether I'd ever had a DWI (which I haven't). Nope. That question set the tone for the interview. They needed to determine whether I would get rattled or unnerved by any questioning, whether my thinking was sequential, whether I had a good understanding of the issues of the day, and whether I had flexibility in though and study. I appreciated the question, I think. It was a good technique. It was a big question, designed to get me off-balance.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.254 , Jan 11, 2011

Decide Afghan withdrawal by strategy, not arbitrary deadline

I supported President Obama's decision to surge additional troops into Afghanistan, though I do not think it should have taken him three months to make that decision. I also don't think he should have announced a withdrawal date at the same time. We may well be able to start drawing down our troops by the July 1, 2011, date announced by the President, but troop withdrawal decisions should be made and measured against our strategic objectives, not an arbitrary deadline. Signaling our intent to leave by a certain date causes friends or potential friends in Afghanistan to hedge their bets. From Afghanistan's national leaders to shopkeepers, translators, informants and village elders, nearly all Afghanis find themselves making a daily calculation whether it's in their best interest to help the United States, help our enemies, or just stay out of the way. Prematurely announcing when our commitment will end or dwindle has the effect of unsettling and endangering our local partners.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.292 , Jan 11, 2011

2006: Growing problems in Iraq, but withdrawal disastrous

Pawlenty visited Iraq in February 2004 with five other governors, and later gave President Bush his eyewitness account of conditions there. In March 2006, he visited Iraq again with a delegation led by Senator John McCain. He acknowledged the military's growing problems in the region--"In many ways, it has been two steps forward and one step back"--but said withdrawing troops could be disastrous: "It has the potential of creating turmoil in the Middle East [at] a profound level."
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 37 , May 10, 2010

2007: Supported the surge; we're going all in

Pawlenty supported Pres. Bush's efforts in Iraq. In March 2007, he met in Baghdad with Gen. Petraeus, who briefed him on the impending "surge" of 21,500 additional US troops. Pawlenty commented:

"I'd call myself a skeptic as to whether you can really turn it around after we let the situation deteriorate so badly. But now we're going all in with the surge. Petraeus is committed to make it work. Petraeus also said that if it's not working, he's going to say so. I put faith in his commitment to candor."

Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 58 , May 10, 2010

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Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012