Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today released the following statement in response to President Obama's announcement that he will send 34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
"First, I would like to commend President Obama for the thoughtful and deliberative way he approached this difficult decision, a welcome departure from the cowboy diplomacy of the last eight years. I also want to thank the brave men and women who have fought for our nation in this region--their sacrifices are deeply appreciated.
"For too long, the Bush Administration wrongly focused its attention on Iraq, allowing al-Qaeda to regroup and take safe haven in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other regions of the world. I am not convinced that sending additional troops to Afghanistan will do anything to defeat our terrorist enemies.
"The time for a troop surge in Afghanistan was years ago, but unfortunately we were bogged down in Iraq. Today it amounts to little more than a last-ditch attempt at nation building with a country that is corrupt, impoverished and deeply divided. Such an effort would cost many brave Americans their lives and drain our treasury at a time of rising unemployment and growing deficits. Furthermore, a larger and prolonged military presence could be used as a recruiting tool by al-Qaeda and its allies. In my view, a phased withdrawal of our military forces is the safest and smartest way forward.
"We must continue to deploy our special forces, intelligence and counterterrorism personnel to kill and capture al-Qaeda wherever they exist, including the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. I agree with the President that we must also invest more in homeland security. However, after thousands of lives lost and over a trillion dollars in taxpayer money spent, it is time to start rebuilding our own nation."