In an interview Sunday, New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman said that what really mattered in Afghanistan was having a reliable partner in the country.
"I don't really know, you know, where the balance is between the large and the small footprint," Friedman told ABC News' "This Week." "What -- what I personally am focused on is -- is one thing. Do you have an Afghan partner, okay? Because it's -- it's that partner that connects your troops with that ultimate goal. And if that partner is rotten to the core, okay, you -- nothing is going to work."
He continued, "And the question I'm asking and I think the administration is asking, in light of the election ... is, do we have a partner that is good enough? ... I think McChrystal was shocked when he got over there at how rotten the Afghan parliament was."
"Rotten or weak, or both?" asked host George Stephanpoulos.
"I think both," Friedman responded. "I wouldn't -- you know, when the president's brother is accused of being the leading mafia drug-dealer in Kandahar, that's not a good sign."
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" the same morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it was a mistake to announce an exit strategy for Afghanistan.