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Public Statements

How Many More Groundhog Days in Afghanistan?

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, it's Groundhog Day. Phil saw his shadow this morning, and winter will last 6 more weeks.

But what comes to mind for me is that old Bill Murray movie called ``Groundhog Day,'' where he wakes up and the same thing happens day after day after day. We're living our own version of ``Groundhog Day'' right now, because every morning, for the last 3,700-plus mornings, the American people have woken to a Nation at war.

Every morning, we've woken up to the same scenario--thousands and thousands of our fellow Americans in harm's way, occupying a foreign nation as part of a reckless policy that is costing us at least $10 billion a month.

There was some encouraging news, however, just yesterday as Secretary of Defense Panetta said that our combat role in Afghanistan would be over as soon as the middle of next year, which is a year earlier than we've been talking about. That would be a long overdue but welcome development, a belated recognition that this war is doing more harm than good in every way we're involved.

I'll believe it when I see it, though. The goalposts have been moved too many times to put much confidence in a single statement. What I've heard so far is a little too vague to take to the bank, especially since Secretary Panetta maintains that some troops would still remain through 2014 in an advisory role and that the commander on the ground, just this morning, is reported on the news as sounding less than enthusiastic in his response.

What I'd like to hear, perhaps in conjunction with Secretary Clinton and the head of USAID, is that, as our military role recedes, we will use all the civilian tools at our disposal to improve the lives of the Afghan people, because the real challenge and the best way to advance our national security interests is to eliminate the crushing poverty and to address the overwhelming humanitarian need in Afghanistan.

That is what's at the heart of my SMART Security proposal. Instead of military force, instead of unmanned, amoral drones that don't know the difference between killing an insurgent and killing a child, how about we send American compassion to Afghanistan? How about we send our very best experts in education, health care, energy, agriculture, legal reform, government transparency, and whatever else we have to offer that they may want to learn from?

Even if Secretary Panetta sticks to this timetable, under the best case scenario, we have another 500 or so mornings and perhaps another Groundhog Day ahead of us, at least 500 more days of the same old, same old--Americans dying on a mission that is not making America safer or Afghanistan freer.

The time has come. In fact, it came a long time ago. Let's make tomorrow different from the thousands of days that preceded it. Let's end the war in Afghanistan now and finally bring our troops home.


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