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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland. I thank the gentleman from Ohio for bringing this resolution.

I think it is high time that we actually had this debate here in Congress. While it may seem untimely, there is never enough time to have a debate about war and peace that this Congress should be engaged in, and not just the actions of any President.

I want to also join with my colleagues in expressing my support for the men and women who serve this Nation. And as a daughter of one who served through Korea and Vietnam and subsequently, you couldn't find a stronger supporter of our servicemen and women. So I would hope that on both sides of the aisle that we don't confuse our debate about policy and about a resolution with support for our men and women in uniform. Because that would be unfortunate for them and it would be disrespectful of us.

I believe that this Congress has an obligation to send a strong message to the White House that the war must come to an end. And as others have pointed out, we began this war effort to fight al Qaeda following the tragedy of September 2001. But as National Security Adviser Jim Jones has told us, there are only 100 al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. Who are we fighting? Well, now we are fighting the Taliban. And that just shows you that over the course of this time, this war and its mission and its goals have morphed and morphed and morphed to the point that we find ourselves in now.

I have no doubt that our well-trained and brave and dedicated Armed Forces will continue to be victorious on the field of battle. I am humbled by their service. But bringing stability to Afghanistan can only happen by rebuilding a truly functioning civil society--forget that, building a truly functional civil society, something that Afghanistan has not had the privilege to enjoy. This won't come by military force.

The question remains really as to the future capacity of Afghanistan's military and government to do what is required of them to build their country. We really have little evidence, if any, that this outcome is likely given the levels of corruption in the existing Karzai government that continue as well as the intertribal violence that also changes over time.

I am struck, there was a Time magazine article just this past week on the Taliban, on the fighting in Marja, and the limited success, the success that our NATO forces are having. But as was pointed out there, the take and hold and build strategy only happens if you really can transfer. And it is the transfer that I am concerned about. It is the transfer that actually endangers our troops to the point where they may transfer at one point and then have to go back and start the fight over again because that is the nature of the battle in Afghanistan.

Even more troubling is that Afghanistan shouldn't be our top national security priority.

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Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland. Our military risk their lives and our Nation spends resources in a country that has so little hope of future success, that international terrorism actually flourishes in so many countries. Estimates are that this kind of terrorism actually flourishes in about 70 countries. And yet we are so heavily invested in Afghanistan that it leaves us little time, opportunity, or resources to really fight the battle where that needs to happen. By focusing our military and our energy and our treasury on Afghanistan, we are really operating under the inaccurate Bush era philosophy that the threat we face is both well-organized, centralized, and advanced.

We know that violent fundamentalism often operates with little centralization and little organization. It is part of the reason that it can be so successful. This war is a constant reminder that our response to the quickly evolving threat of international terrorism is static, and we must end this war and look for ways to more effectively disrupt violent plots to protect our citizens, our national security, our safety and security, and to build nations in a way that they respect processes and people.

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