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Public Statements

America's National Security

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

America's National Security

Mr. WELCH. Madam Speaker, I want to address the question of Afghanistan.

The President was confronted with a very serious and difficult decision. The decision that he made, as America knows, is to increase troop strength by 30,000 troops and to also seek the support for an additional 10,000 troops from allies. The question which really confronts America as well as the President is this:

What is the best strategy to protect our homeland from another attack that would be perpetrated by and inspired by al Qaeda?

The question is also whether having a military force of occupation of now 100,000 troops, or soon to be 100,000 troops, from the United States of America in Afghanistan and doing nation-building is a sustainable strategy that will be the one that can protect America from a future attack. I believe that it is not, and there are a couple of reasons.

First of all, as we know, al Qaeda goes where our military is not. There are presently, according to General Jones, 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan and about 500 in Pakistan. Al Qaeda moves to areas of opportunity. It is not just there. It's in Yemen. It's in Somalia. It's in other parts of the world.

Also, as we know, the Internet is a tool, and some of the folks who have been plotting and planning to do destructive conduct and to hurt our American people live in the United States and in other parts of the world. It is not a threat that is confined to Afghanistan. It is a decentralized threat.

So where you have a threat which, by definition, is decentralized and not from a nation state, does it make sense to deploy the vast majority of our troops, 100,000, and the vast majority of our resources, $1 trillion minimum over the next 10 years, to a single country and to then take on the goal of nation-building, of institution building, in Afghanistan? I believe it does not. It is not an effective strategy that is sustainable militarily. It is not an effective strategy that is sustainable financially.

Secondly, the effect of a decision to nation-build in Afghanistan is that, by definition, our military and our government need a functional partner no matter what the shortcomings of that partner may be--hence, the embrace of the Karzai administration, which is, despite the fact that it is losing credibility among its own people, and despite the fact that the election was not only deeply flawed but it is documented that the Karzai Government stole 1 million votes in order to stay in power.

The more work that we do which requires us to line up, to cooperate, to conciliate, and to protect a Karzai Government that does not have the support of its people--and every day that we do that--it undercuts the support and the definition of the mission of the American soldier in Afghanistan.

As is well-known, a major problem is Pakistan. What we have seen is that we now have to have a significant alliance with the Pakistani military as the only institution that can provide some measure of security in Pakistan. Because they control the nuclear weapons, this is obviously of great importance to the American people, but the Pakistani military is notable for two things:

Number one, it has been an adversary of democratic development in Pakistan, something which is essential to build economic well-being in a country that is absolutely destitute, impoverished and getting poorer.

Number two, the Pakistani military, as reported in The New York Times as recently as today, made it clear that, however urgent it is for the United States to take out the Hakani network, which is in the tribal areas and is crossing into Afghanistan on a regular basis to attack our troops, the Pakistani military regards the Hakani network as its ally in geopolitics in the Afghanistan region. So it will not do what needs to be done to protect the American military and American security, and that is to attack the Hakani network--the Afghanistan Taliban. In fact, it has made it explicit that it sees the Hakani network as its ally to keep India at bay.

So what we have is a strategy that depends on nation-building, which has very doubtful prospects of success in an alliance with two ``friends'' who aren't there to help us.

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