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Afghanistan: In To Win

Floor Speech

Location: Washington D.C.

Madam Speaker, right now, people are fighting and dying for a free Afghanistan. They deserve an answer to the crux of the matter: Are we in to win? I believe we must be.

My answer stems from a broad strategic vision focused by three fundamental principles: One, America's security is from strength, not surrender; two, our greatest strength rests in expanding liberty to the oppressed to ensure freedom for ourselves; and three, we are targets of tyrants and terrorists not because of our actions but because of our existence.

Helping the Afghans free themselves from the Taliban's tyranny and al Qaeda's terrorism is a moral good unto itself. To retreat from or compromise this noble goal in the cause of human freedom will not only be a betrayal of the Afghans, it will endanger our own birth right as a free people.

Our allies, our rivals, and especially our enemies will witness our lack of conviction; and, by so dishonoring ourselves, we will squander our allies' trust, lose our rivals' respect, and incur our enemy's emboldened depravities.

Our primary nation-state enemy, Iran, imperviously continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to wield them. A defeat in Afghanistan will condemn generations yet born to the capricious terrorism of an Iranian regime protected by a nuclear umbrella. Alternately, victory in Afghanistan will further Iran's necessary containment by democracies opposed to terrorism.

Unable to expand its sway, Iran's ability to coax our rivals into opposing sanctions and, worse, aiding its nuclear pursuits, will ebb and end; and, within its own borders, the regime will falter and, like the Soviet Union, ultimately implode between the weight of its own oppressed people's aspirations for freedom.

Regarding Afghanistan particularly, General Stanley McChrystal has affirmed victory remains within reach. What form will it take? My view is the richly diversified people of Afghanistan desire a decentralized democracy that is opposed to terrorism and is engaged with their neighbors and allies.

To this end, America, NATO, and the U.N. must renounce the recent fraudulent election and schedule a scrupulously monitored, honest election. This is essential to reassuring the Afghans that their nascent representative government and the coalition's intentions in their homeland are legitimate and benevolent.

As this process proceeds at pace, we must make clear the new democracy's governing principle is local control. Every Nation, especially one as tribal as Afghanistan, has traditional roots of order springing from and connecting the individual and family to the local community and larger country. Without an enduring history of or trust in a centralized, bureaucratized rule from Kabul, only an explicit, enduring commitment to local control will soothe Afghans' resistance to their federal government's existence. Moreover, local control also intermeshes with coalition forces' counterinsurgency operation.

Emulating General David Petraeus' brilliant counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, coalition forces must be increased to provide the force necessary to defeat the enemy's violence and intimidation of Afghans. As the security situation is stabilized, coalition forces and steadily increasing Afghan national police and army personnel must live amongst the people to facilitate sustainable local economic developments and democratic institutions. In sum, the coalition will separate Afghans from the enemy by concretely proving the moral and practical superiority of locally rooted democracy over nihilistic terrorism and tyranny.

Importantly, reconstruction efforts must not be limited to Afghanistan. With the enemy infesting western tribal regions of Pakistan, the coalition must also engage with that nation's people and government in ``preemptive reconstruction.'' Rolling blackouts, food shortages, and other persistent problems affecting Pakistanis must be ameliorated at the national and, critically, the local levels. This will stop Pakistanis from viewing themselves as unwilling conscripts into a ``proxy army'' being used by the coalition; it will stabilize Pakistan's Government; it will demonstrate the coalition's commitment to the well-being of Pakistan citizens; and will empower the Pakistani army to more actively and effectively coordinate with coalition forces to eradicate the enemy's safe havens in their Nation--safe havens which, I note, constitute an existential threat to democracy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Surrounded by free Afghans and coalition forces, the enemy will be uprooted from its havens with nowhere to hide and will be crushed.

This is the synopsis of the broader strategic context and immediate recommendations of those who support victory in Afghanistan. May we all ever remember America's greatest security as liberty, and let us pray the Obama administration supports General McChrystal's plan for victory so that we and future generations in this world never confront the prospect of a wider war and endless threat from abandoning Afghanistan.

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