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Ex-NATO commander: Kudos on taking out Taliban leader, but game’s not over

The U.S. notched a victory in the war on terror after a drone strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour this weekend, but we're still a long way off from achieving peace in the region, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander said Monday.

"This is the ultimate game of 'Whack-a-mole.' We take out one part of the organization, another one springs up." retired Adm. James Stavridis told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "I think in Afghanistan, … this is unbelievably tough terrain, so kudos for taking out Mansour, he was an impediment to the peace process, but it's not the end of the game."

Earlier on Monday, President Barack Obama confirmed Mansour's killing, calling it "an important milestone."

"The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict — joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability," Obama said.

Stavridis, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said he is "cautiously optimistic about Afghanistan, believe it or not, if we maintain a reasonable level troops there, say 10,000-to-15,000."

"I'm much more pessimistic about Iraq."

— Reuters contributed to this report.