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Public Statements

American Troops In Afghanistan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, after the tragedy of 9/11, I voted for the resolution that authorized military action against those who attacked us, including sending our troops into Afghanistan. We sent a strong, unified message that we will never yield to terrorism. We have not just the right but the duty to keep America secure. I certainly agreed with taking out Osama bin Laden. It is outrageous that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration failed to stop him, unnecessarily prolonged this conflict, strengthened our enemies as their attention and our resources were diverted to an ideologically driven invasion of Iraq.

Surely all Americans should respond affirmatively to President Obama's call last night for unity of purpose in keeping our families secure and overcoming all of those who would do us harm. I agree with so very much of what President Obama said, but not so much with what and how he said he would accomplish our shared goal.

It is true he had no really good and easy alternatives, and I applaud his deliberative effort. But the path to peace and security will not be found through a wider war. It is wholly unrealistic to expect that we can escalate our military forces in the harsh, faraway landscape of Afghanistan by another 40 percent, then deescalate and begin bringing them home all within a mere 18 months.

We have been fighting in Afghanistan on the installment plan. A few more troops, a few more months, and a whole lot more money--billions. There is no way that 2011 will mark the end of this war or even the beginning of the end. This is just a mirage. In 18 months the reasons may vary, but the next installment will be requested in what is already a deteriorating war that has lasted 8 years with the illusive end of the war always just over the horizon.

The better exit strategy is to have fewer troops who need to exit. We should honor the sacrifice of those who are courageously serving and put fewer of them into harm's way. It should not take 100,000 highly equipped and trained American troops to defeat less than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan, an estimate yesterday from the President's National Security Adviser.

Once again, we hear talk of a grand coalition, but make no mistake, it is Americans who are being asked to bear the overwhelming share of the burden. As these troops would arrive in Afghanistan, the Canadians, the Dutch, they have already announced they will be bringing their troops home at the same time our people get there.

The French and the Germans have said not one more troop. Spain may increase its total to 1,200. Iceland has two, Luxembourg has nine. Every bit of help counts certainly, but it's clear that the great amount of blood that will be spilt will, once again, be American, and the cost will be to the American taxpayer.

Now, United States Army doctrine, as written by General Petraeus, calls for one counterinsurgent for every 50 members of the population. In Afghanistan, with a population of 30 million, that would work out to about half a million additional troops, not 30,000. Whatever the exact number is, it is clear that to meet the military's own objectives, more installments are in order. All this effort to prop up a corrupt Karzai government that just stole over 1 million votes to keep itself in power as it attempts to control a fraction of the country of Afghanistan.

My fellow Americans, we must chart a better course. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to scrutinize this request carefully as well as how to pay for it, to find a better way to achieve our shared goals of protecting every American family. To do otherwise will leave us embroiled in an Afghanistan that can consume, as it has throughout human history, as many lives and as many dollars as we are willing to expend there. And such a painful, unending sacrifice may well make our families less, not more, secure.

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