In his opening statement at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan this afternoon, Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14), the Ranking Republican of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, stressed the need for President Obama to have resolve in seeing our mission completed in Afghanistan.
Mack's opening statement at the hearing, as submitted for the record, follows:
"Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for having this hearing today. I am honored to have our witnesses here to discuss the Administration's new strategy on Afghanistan. Over the past year, President Obama has been thinking of what his plan will be for Afghanistan, and your being here is a positive step in having us understand the President's agenda.
"Before I speak about Afghanistan, I would like to take this opportunity to ask if Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen will meet with me to discuss some very important issues related to Latin America. As the Ranking Member on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I would like to meet with each of you to talk about some very significant issues related to our hemisphere.
"Last night, Americans and men and women across the world carefully watched and heard what President Obama had to say about U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
"Let us remember that it was not only our friends who were watching and analyzing every point the President was making, but so were our enemies. The question on everyone's minds is, does President Obama have the resolve to get the job done? Is he willing to do what it takes to win?
"While there were some questions answered last night, such as the specific troop level President Obama intends on sending to Afghanistan, other questions remain. With many on the left urging a quick withdrawal, our brave men and women in the military need a commander in chief with the determination and resolve to win in Afghanistan.
"While I am disappointed that the President chose not to provide General McChrystal with his original troop request, I support the President's decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
"But we must face the facts, Mr. Chairman. The war in Afghanistan is not only about battles against the Taliban and al Qaeda, it is about the basic defense of our nation.
"If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban and al Qaeda, not only will a safe haven exist for terrorists, but it will have reverberations across the world. Pakistan, a nuclear nation, will be a neighbor to a terrorist-run nation that will use every means at its disposal to destabilize the Pakistani government. From Pakistan, we will also see our Sunni friends feeling the impact of a failed Afghanistan. Tied to these Sunni nations, we will unquestionably see Iran's influence and fervor grow.
"We cannot allow the Taliban and al Qaeda to regain a foothold in Afghanistan. If they succeed, Afghanistan would once again become a safe haven for terrorists around the world to base their operations.
"While we want to work with the President to ensure our troops succeed, I strongly disagree with the President's decision to personally relay to our enemies when they can regroup and when they can re-take Afghan territory.
"I simply cannot understand and cannot agree with this approach. For President Obama to indicate that he has already made a decision that will take affect in 18 months, irrespective of what the situation is on the ground, not only emboldens our enemies, but allows them to prepare and plan.
"Imagine if the Taliban leadership telegraphed to the world that on a certain day they would re-enforce a certain region and on another date they would withdraw their forces? That does not make sense, and neither does President Obama's decision to tell our enemies what he plans on doing.
"Failure in Afghanistan is not an option. The United States must continue to be the beacon of hope and opportunity across the globe, and we must continue to stand united and strong against enemies of freedom.
"Thank you and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, Mr. Chairman."