BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Madam Chairman, I rise today to join my colleagues in calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and the removal of U.S. troops and security contractors.
We face real and ongoing challenges from terrorist groups around the world; but after 10 years of fighting, it is clear that an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan is simply not the answer. The over-$630 billion we've spent on this war over the past 10 years has not brought us security, and we cannot bring stability to Afghanistan through an ongoing troop presence.
I support the President's efforts to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and I applaud him for starting that important process. Yet we need, in my opinion, to act faster to end the war. We need an accelerated timetable for troop withdrawal and a plan to ensure that all U.S. forces are redeployed.
Madam Chairman, over 2,000 Americans have given their lives in Afghanistan in service of their country. That includes almost 1,500 since January 2009 and an estimated 400 since the death of Osama bin Laden. Another 12,000 have been wounded. Perhaps most staggering, more soldiers have committed suicide than have died in combat in Afghanistan. Our troops bear devastating physical and psychological wounds of war.
The war in Afghanistan has placed a devastating strain on our military, our troops, and their families. We've asked more and more from them, with many soldiers serving multiple dangerous deployments, taking them away from their homes and their families for long periods of time.
The suicide rate, again, is a stark reminder that we're not meeting our obligations to these men and women.
Madam Chairman, keeping our troops in Afghanistan comes at great cost to us. Not only does it cost some $8 billion a month, but it continues to cost American lives. It is time for us to end this war. Instead of more boots on the ground, we need to redirect funding toward diplomatic and economic engagement with the Afghan people.
We need to invest in Afghan women, ensuring that they have basic human rights protections, as well as educational and economic opportunities, because Afghanistan will never be stable and prosperous if half of its population is oppressed.
The bottom line is this: hundreds of billions of dollars, and over 2,000 American lives, have not brought us security. Keeping our troops in Afghanistan will not end the threat of terrorism, nor will it bring stability to the Afghan people. We need a new strategy, shifting from military force to true engagement.
Madam Chairman, we are fighting a war that has no military solution. In fact, far from making us safer, our ongoing troop presence actually fuels the insurgency and breeds anti-American sentiment. Instead of pouring another $88 billion into continuing this war for another year, I strongly believe we need to end funding for military engagement in Afghanistan and finally bring our troops home.
I yield back the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT