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Mr. POLIS. I thank my colleague from Massachusetts.
Mr. Speaker, this Nation does face a very real and immediate terrorist threat. The terrorist threat stems from al Qaeda, which is a stateless menace, a menace that is not rooted in any one location or has any dominion in any one particular area.
In fact, the two countries that our Nation continues to occupy, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, are not significant bases of operations for al Qaeda. It's been recently reported that there are, in fact, only around 50 al Qaeda operatives in the entire nation of Afghanistan, and there could very well be 10 times that number in nations like Yemen and Pakistan.
Yes, there is a very real threat, but the answer is not to continue to indefinitely occupy countries where we only breed more sympathy with those who would do us harm. The correct and more important way to leverage American military might to combat this menace is to have targeted and aggressive intelligence-gathering and targeted special operations against the terrorists no matter where they are.
Some have expressed concerns that if we leave Afghanistan precipitously, al Qaeda could reassert itself there. The answer to that is to go after al Qaeda in a targeted way in Afghanistan if the need arises again. It is not to engage in an indefinite occupation of one or two particular countries. How many more countries would we need to occupy? If they're in Yemen, do we occupy Yemen? If they're in Pakistan, do we occupy Pakistan? If we weren't already in and occupying Afghanistan, would we choose to go in there today? I would submit that the answer is no.
We need to continue our effort to battle terrorists wherever they are and focus on this stateless menace through intelligence-gathering, targeted special operations and a refocused emphasis on homeland security, all of which a very costly and expensive effort in Afghanistan continues to reduce our ability to do by soaking up our national time and resources as well as costing the lives of American soldiers.
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