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Boehner: Obama has "No More Excuses" on Afghanistan

(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
House Republican leader John Boehner released a statement Monday saying that President Obama has "no more excuses" for not announcing a decision on his strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan now that presidential challenger Abdullah Abdullah (left) has pulled out of the Afghan runoff election, guaranteeing that Hamid Karzai will continue as the country's president.

"Now that it is clear that President Karzai will remain in office, the White House has no further pretext for delaying the decision on giving General McChrystal the resources he needs to achieve our goals in Afghanistan," said Boehner. "Delaying the decision puts our men and women fighting there in greater danger every single day."

The House minority leader went on to back General Stanley McChrystal's request for tens of thousands of more troops.

"There are no more excuses," he said. "It's time for the Obama Administration to give our commander on the ground the resources he needs to protect our troops and achieve the goals the President has said he supports."

Republicans have been arguing that Mr. Obama's protracted decision-making process, which has involved closed-door meetings with military and civilian leaders over the past few weeks, has gone on too long – some with stronger language than others.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the president is "dithering," adding that "signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries."

Senator and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain was less strong in his words but pressed the same point, saying, "the sooner we implement the strategy, the more we will be able to ensure [American troops'] safety."

(AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
Abdullah's decision to pull out of the runoff – which was set for November 7th but has now been cancelled – is problematic for the Obama administration, which had been hoping the runoff would result in a greater veneer of legitimacy for the embattled Karzai (left). The Afghan leader has lost credibility both internationally and at home in the wake of revelations about corruption and election fraud on his behalf.

At his press briefing this afternoon, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs maintained that the president's decision would come "within weeks," echoing past statements, despite the cancellation of the runoff.

Asked if the president considers Karzai to be a legitimate, credible partner, Gibbs responded, "President Karzai has been declared the winner of the Afghan election and will head the next government of Afghanistan. So, obviously, he's the legitimate leader of the country."

"Obviously, what will begin now that we know the government that will lead Afghanistan for the next five years, continue conversations over governance, civil society, and corruption going forward to ensure that we have a credible partner in our efforts to help secure the country," he continued.

Gibbs also made the case for Karzai's legitimacy, arguing that Abdullah made a "personal and political decision" to drop out amid poll numbers that showed him trailing. Abdullah said upon dropping out that he was concerned about fraud in the runoff.

"I don't think there's any reason to believe that the Afghan people won't think this government is as legitimate as it is," Gibbs said.