Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-6), senior member of the Financial Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee releases the following statement today on President Barack Obama's plan for Afghanistan:
"President Obama's unannounced visit this week to Afghanistan marks a major step forward in our relationship with that country and our policy for the future. The President signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the government of Afghanistan, visited wounded soldiers, spoke to thousands of our troops, and addressed the American people on his vision for ending the war responsibly, and building "a global consensus supporting peace and stability" not only for Afghanistan, but also South Asia as a whole.
"Mr. Obama began his address to our nation by recounting the history of our involvement. We went into Afghanistan in late 2001 because it was from there that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda -- with the support of the Taliban government -- planned, trained, and launched the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Less than two years into that campaign, with that mission not yet accomplished, the previous administration shifted our nation's focus by going to war in Iraq. President Obama refocused our fight against terrorism back on al Qaeda. He reinvigorated our coalition with NATO and other countries. Over the past three years, America and its allies have devastated al Qaeda's leadership. We eliminated Osama bin Laden. And we are on course to breaking the momentum of a resurgent Taliban.
"The President laid out a 5- point plan for what happens now and guides the future of our relationship with Afghanistan. This includes: transitioning to full Afghan responsibility for their country's security and completing his previously announced draw down of American combat forces by 2014; narrowing our mission there to counterterrorism and training Afghan security forces; economic assistance; seeking a negotiated peace with the Taliban; mobilizing a global consensus in support of peace and stability in South Asia.
"I believe this is a responsible and realistic course for ending the war in Afghanistan that avoids the mistake we made at the end of the 1980s when we abandoned Afghanistan once Soviet occupation ended. Moreover, the President's plan reinforces Afghanistan's sovereignty, lays out a path to long term military and non-military cooperation; and envisions an international coalition in support of regional peace, security, stability, and sustainable development.
"The President's plan also challenges Congress to overcome partisanship and obstructionism in order to forge a bipartisan consensus on furnishing the resources necessary to finish our current mission and implement a strategic policy that at long last can bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. I am prepared to work with both sides of the aisle as well as with the President in helping our country successfully achieve these historic objectives."