From NBC's Mark Murray
In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the Obama administration's decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, as well as to set July 2011 as the date to begin transferring authority to Afghan forces.
On the difficulties in Afghanistan, like that the government is weak and corrupt:
"I think it's important to recognize that despite all of the difficulties that exist in Afghanistan, there are some positive steps that have been taken in the last several years that we can build on. There are certain ministries and cabinet members who are just first rate. They're getting the job done... We've also made it very clear to President Karzai and all of his allies that this is it. We have no more time to waste. We feel like the last eight years didn't produce the outcome it should have."
On selling the 30,000 troops to Congress and the American people:
"I think that the president conveyed both resolve and urgency last night. The resolve was clear. That you know, if he could have walked away from this responsibility, that would have been the easy political call to make."
On GOP criticism that the July 2011 date will embolden the enemy:
"I think that if you re-read what the president said last night, he very clearly said that he wants to see the transfer of authority begin in July 2011. It needs to be done in a responsible way. That is conditions-based. He has said to us, he has said to others, we're not talking about falling off a cliff and beginning to, you know, bring troops home."
Clinton added, "The advantage is to say clearly to the Afghans themselves, 'You have got to start stepping up and taking this responsibility. We will be there with you in the future -- not necessarily with combat troops, but with trainers, with logistics, with other ways of supporting you. But you cannot just stand back and let others try to defend your country.' And I think that's an important message. It does combine resolve and urgency. And I think that is exactly what the president intended to communicate."