By a vote of 356-65, the House of Representatives last night rejected a resolution to begin troop withdrawals from Afghanistan within the next 30 days, and to have all troops out by the end of the year. The sponsor was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) of the Progressive Caucus, and five isolationist Republicans crossed over to join the liberals.
The GOP cut-and-run crowd includes Congressmen Ron Paul (TX), John Duncan, Jr, (TN), Tim Johnson (IL), John Campbell (CA) and Walter Jones (NC). Afghanistan is the central front against extremism, but Rep. Paul said Americans were engaged in “nothing more than empire building. The Taliban didn’t launch an attack against the United States. The Government of Afghanistan didn’t launch it.” He called the U.S. liberation of Afghanistan, “illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and illegitimate”. He said the war is nothing more than a foreign occupation.
One of the most prominent Republicans in the 2010 elections is Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. He is seeking the GOP U.S. Senate nomination to oppose ultra-liberal Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). He also claims to be “very conservative,” but says he has been greatly influenced by the views of Ron Paul and the libertarians. DeVore and Boxer are firm opponents of the Obama surge, and DeVore says the plan is a “a recipe for strategic failure.” DeVore believes it is not necessary to “employ conventional forces” in Afghanistan.
These lawmakers have apparently forgotten what happened to America on 9/11. It was the Taliban who gave Osama bin Laden the safe haven which allowed him to plan the attacks. If we pulled out now it would allow the Taliban to regain control and al Qaeda would have carte blanche to once again run terrorist training camps and plan new attacks against the United States and our allies.
This would pose a significant and grave risk to our national security, and all Americans would be in danger. No enemy was ever vanquished, and no victory was ever secured by running away. Those who wish to destroy the United States would surely follow us. If we are beaten in Afghanistan they would be eager to attack us wherever we go. The cut-and-run crowd does not understand if we retreat unilaterally and quit, the war will not be over.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine who served in Afghanistan, said last night,
Our enemies will continue to attack us whether or not we continue the battle against them. Our troops would return home with one question: Why? Why would you bring us home when victory was so close? Why did we fight so hard, make so many sacrifices, only to have those that believe in peace at any price say it’s time to quit? Now is not the time to retreat. This enemy is real and it must be defeated. Do the critics really want the return of a nightmarish tyranny? Although they have far to go, the Afghan people have made demonstrable progress.
If America pulled out now all of the improvements we have seen would disappear. Afghans would no longer be allowed to vote. The Taliban would rule by the edict of terror, and political dissidents would be murdered. Women would once again be non-citizens, young girls would be kicked out of school and they would be forbidden to read.
One of the principal reasons we have been spared a repeat of 9/11 is that U.S. forces quickly toppled the Taliban regime which was protecting the terrorists. The Taliban and al Qaeda were driven out of their safety zone and into the remote mountains. Years of constant U.S. military pressure have forced them to turn their attention from planning more attacks against our homeland to fighting for their own survival.
Afghanistan is today the epicenter of terrorism, and President Obama has wisely responded with a 34,000 troop surge. A new strategy was announced by General McChrystal, the commander of the U.S. and international forces, on December 1st. This strategy is effective and is already leading to key victories. It makes no sense to pick up and leave when we’re winning and crushing blows are being inflicted on the enemy.
Our armed forces have begun a 12- to 18-month campaign to defeat the Taliban. We are witnessing the first major joint NATO-Afghanistan military operation in southern Helmand province, which is considered a strategic fulcrum for ridding the nation of the Taliban. One third of the troops are from the Afghan National Army.
American troops are working side by side with their Afghan counterparts. They took back the city of Marja in three weeks. They are making the Afghan people their number one priority, which is the basis for this counterinsurgency strategy. Furthermore, Pakistan’s army is now engaged and they have 147,000 troops closing in on the terrorists.
Victory is close, but we have not obtained it yet. Abandonment and retreat — those are not strategies. We stay because it’s in our interest to stay and secure a victory against the enemies of the world. Listed below are statements from some prominent leaders regarding the importance of America’s role in Afghanistan.
“This is not the time to turn our backs on the Afghan people. This is no idle danger. No hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror, and this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards and al Qaeda can operate with impunity.
“We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region. . . . And if the Afghan Government falls to the Taliban or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” — President Barack Obama
“I was in Kandahar. It was in Kandahar that the 9/11 attacks were planned. It was in the training camps in eastern Afghanistan where the initial preparation of the attackers was carried out before they went to Hamburg and flight schools in the U.S.
“It is important to recall the seriousness of the mission and why it is that we are in Afghanistan in the first place and why we are still there after years and years of hard work and sacrifice that have passed. . . . We’ve got to show that we are in this; that we are going to provide sustained, substantial commitment.” — General David Patraeus, Central Command
“When I am in Afghanistan, I get the same question asked as when I am in Pakistan, which is, are you going to leave us again? Because they remember very well that we have in the past. And so there is a trust here. There is uncertainty through Afghanistan’s eyes as to whether or not we will stay.” — Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“A hasty withdrawal could lead to a national security disaster in the form of Taliban rule in Kabul and safe haven for Al-Qaeda. I am keenly aware that even if we remain in Afghanistan — and here I want to emphasize this — there is s no guarantee we will prevail in our fight against Al-Qaeda. But if we don’t try, we are guaranteed to fail.” — Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee