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Providing For Consideration Of House Concurrent Resolution 248, Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Providing For Consideration Of House Concurrent Resolution 248, Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

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Today, so very late, represents the first real House debate on Afghanistan since President Obama announced that the path to peace could only be found through wider war. I have continually challenged that policy. But because our security, I believe, will not be found in either the false choice of ``more troops in'' or ``all out now,'' I cannot support the resolution, as I do not support our current strategy in Afghanistan.

This December escalation announcement by the President was counterproductive and somewhat misleading. He tried to have it both ways. He pledged to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011, but his plan continues sending troops through near the end of this year. Defense Secretary Gates was more candid. He says that any withdrawal next year will be a ``handful,'' that there is no real Afghanistan exit strategy, and that a large military presence is planned there for ``a very long time.''

With our unceasing commitment to American blood and treasure being poured into Afghanistan, there is no meaningful pressure on President Karzai and his drug dealer and warlord cohorts. They have been much less interested in undertaking the steps necessary to secure peace than in clinging to power and wealth, such as by stealing one-third of the votes in the last election. I believe that the calls for reform have been greeted since that time by Mr. Karzai only by taking over the independent election commission that questioned that election and by the appointment of multiple drug warlord types to the cabinet who are part of the problem. In Afghanistan, reform is a slogan, it is not a reality.

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We have exercised minimal leverage over Karzai and his cronies, who view our continuing presence there as an invitation to steal all they can get when they get it. The better exit strategy is having fewer troops who need to exit. I agree with General Eikenberry, our former commander and now ambassador, who last November questioned an escalation that would only ``bring vastly increased costs and an indefinite, large-scale U.S. military role.'' He wisely concluded that further increases would ``dig us in more deeply.''

In 2001, I voted for the use of force against the enemies that attacked us, and I continue to support that effort. But unless we pursue a different approach with a more narrow military footprint and a pragmatic exit strategy, we will remain embroiled in a land that has entrapped so many foreign powers throughout the centuries Afghanistan can consume as many lives and as many dollars as we are willing to expend there. As in Iraq, we are on a course for a trillion-dollar war waged on borrowed money. That must be changed to save American lives and America's future.

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