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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FARR. Madam Speaker, I rise today for this opportunity to speak as an original cosponsor of this bill on what I believe is the foremost foreign policy issue facing the United States today. There is perhaps no more important matter on the table right now than Afghanistan, not least because every dollar we spend abroad for war is a dollar of investment lost to all of our communities here at home.

We have spent more than $250 billion fighting and occupying Afghanistan. President Obama is now implementing his plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, which will cost another $33 billion. This is an enormous amount of money, and the security gains are dubious when there are more al Qaeda in other parts of the globe.

So long as the United States has a major military presence in Afghanistan, long-term stability will continue to be a goal just out of our reach. More troops are not the answer.

We need to turn the corner. We must rebuild. We must build a governing capacity among the Afghans, not military fighting capacity. As long as Afghanistan is able to depend exclusively on the United States for stability, the longer they will continue to do so. The quicker we prepare for transfer authority to the Afghans, the sooner we will be able to leave the country.

Over a year ago, President Obama announced his strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in its safe havens of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I made clear that I would not rubber-stamp his strategy for more troops. The only way we can solve this mess is to put in place a regional strategy with international buy-in. That strategy must include a strong civilian component capable of achieving diplomatic and development objectives, as well as security goals.

I was distressed to read several months ago that Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke acknowledged that we had built almost no capacity in the Afghan authorities.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Edwards of Maryland). The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KUCINICH. I yield the gentleman another 30 seconds.

Mr. FARR. We sent our troops to war in Afghanistan, but after more than 8 years of war, we are only now actively trying to support peace. For years, I have worked to develop a Civilian Response Corps that can bring the whole of government approach to winning the peace.

We have proven time and time again that we can kick down doors, but we have not yet proven that we can build peace. We are finally standing up the Civilian Response Corps, and we are finally developing the capacity so that war without end is not our only option.

* [Begin Insert]

In the recent operation in Marjah, the military aspect of the operation started in February 12, and by February 25 the Afghan flag was raised. This week, Afghan President Karzai, together with General Stanley McChrystal, visited Marjah. They met with elders who told President Karzai they wanted Afghan troops, not international forces, in their town. They expressed frustration at the government's lack of ability to provide services. It is those public services--provided by a civilian corps supported by Afghan security--that will win the peace.

The long-term solution in Afghanistan will be a civilian solution, and the sooner we move to this next phase the better. For this reason, I believe a vote for success in Afghanistan is a vote for this resolution to remove our military troops by year's end.


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