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Public Statements

Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado. I thank the gentlewoman from Florida, and I thank the gentleman from Ohio for bringing this resolution forward, and I reluctantly rise in opposition to it.

I volunteered to serve in Iraq not because I believed that invading, pacifying, and administering the country was the right course of action, but I believed that once we had made the commitment that we had to follow it through and bring it to a reasonable and just conclusion.

In Afghanistan, I think that what this Nation first did was great: That we were attacked on 9/11. The Taliban controlled much of the country and gave safe harbor to al Qaeda, and we gave air, logistical, and advisory support to the anti-Taliban forces in the country and they pushed the Taliban out.

We made a wrong turn after that, by forcing the victors on the ground aside instead of using our leverage to have them reach out to the Pashtun elements of the country, and we superimposed a political process on them that doesn't fit the political culture of the country, a government that is mired in corruption and has little capacity to govern outside of Kabul. I believe it is wrong to use conventional forces against an irregular force that make our military vulnerable to asymmetric capability. But we have security interests in Afghanistan that we must accept.

We need to make sure that the Taliban doesn't take over the country where it becomes a permissive environment, where they can use that to destabilize Afghanistan, to assist the Taliban on the other side of the Durand Line. We need some base of operations in Afghanistan to be able to strike al Qaeda targets in the federally administered tribal areas of Afghanistan. I believe that we can do it with a lighter footprint. I think we ought to be focused on supporting factions within this region that share our strategic interests.

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