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A New Strategy for a Better Result in Afghanistan

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Speaker, the President has today been given a unique opportunity with the firing of General McChrystal. General McChrys-Ðtal was the principal author and advocate of the surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

His theory was that it would be a clear hold and transfer--that is, a transfer to the Afghan police, who do not exist, to the Afghan security forces, which are in a state of disarray, and to the Afghan Government, which does not exist meaningfully outside of the capital. He tested his theory in Marjeh this spring.

The U.S. and allied forces performed admirably, with tremendous sacrifice and effort. They did, in fact, go into a very hostile area, and they did, in fact, at least temporarily, drive the Taliban and other dissident elements out or underground.

Then he said he was going to bring in government in a box, that it was ready to come in. Now, there wasn't, unfortunately, any government in a box. There is unbelievable corruption rife through the Karzai regime at the national level, through the police and through the security forces. They brought in some police who were not of the area, not of that tribe, and that didn't work out too well. They brought in security forces who refused to do their mission, and they brought in a few, again, government officials who had no local support. They have since left, and pretty much, Marjeh has devolved to what it was.

Even before he was fired, General McChrystal admitted that this was going to take a lot longer and was going to be a lot harder than he thought, which means President Obama's dictate of beginning the withdrawal next year is a fantasy. That was part of the criticism that General McChrystal and his allies at the Pentagon put forward.

So there is really a choice here--to get into a very long-term, a very high-level engagement in Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year and with tremendous sacrifice by our troops on a strategy that has, thus far, not worked or to rethink that strategy, perhaps more along the lines of Vice President Biden's ideas, which were also derided by General McChrystal and by some of his colleagues. Actually, what Vice President Biden said was, look, mostly this is an internal issue. It's an inter- and intratribal fight. Yes, there are some radical Taliban elements, and there are some radical Pakistani Taliban elements and very few al Qaeda.

How about we guarantee that we will take care of any intervening forces--that is, terrorist forces--coming in from outside, in any number, with a smaller troop presence and with our technology? How about we let the Afghans work out their intertribal/intratribal conflicts that they have been carrying on about for 600 years, and we encourage them to do that and to adopt policies to help them meaningfully rebuild their country?

Instead, General McChrystal won the day, but now he is gone. Now, I understand that the President has said this does not mean a change in policy. I think that he should step back from that remark and should consult again with all of his best security advisers and with the Vice President, and he should look at the results so far and find out what those critical comments were which were mentioned in that article where, basically, the Pentagon is saying, hey, this is going to be years and years and a much bigger force, and maybe there will have to be a second surge into Afghanistan.

Starting to sound like Vietnam to anybody here?

With huge amounts of money, we prop up a government that has no relationship to the rest of the country. They have huge corruption. They don't have support in the countryside. That government falls, and another one comes in and another one. This echoes that failure.

So, in the strongest terms possible, I would urge the President to reconsider, to reconvene his advisers now that General McChrystal is gone, and to think very carefully about a much less expensive, much less troop-intensive strategy to bring about a better result in Afghanistan.


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