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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Speaker, the war in Afghanistan has entered its ninth year without clearly defined objectives or an exit strategy. With a deteriorating security situation and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight, many experts view the war in Afghanistan as open-ended.

The open-ended nature of this conflict is evident in the complexities of defining the enemy. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 because of the Taliban's support and refuge of al-Qaeda. We have had to combat the ever changing Taliban, foreign al Qaeda fighters, and the revolving loyalties of numerous tribal war lords. Furthermore, our close relationship with the Pakistan government has been seriously challenged by the jihadist threat now in Pakistan. We have no clear response to this new threat beyond drone attacks that also have high rates of civilian casualties.

President Bush's disregard for the complexities of Afghanistan and the damage that came from his disregard has severely undermined any prospect of stability and a successful conclusion to this conflict. The unnecessary war in Iraq also diverted critical resources when we needed them the most in Afghanistan. These failures by the Bush Administration encouraged the division of Afghanistan and allowed al Qaeda to move effortlessly into Pakistan.

President Obama's surge strategy in Afghanistan is counterproductive and sends the wrong message. The President sent an additional 17,000 troops in early 2009 and then another 30,000 troops late last year. Beyond nation building, the additional troops have no clear mission and do not resolve the problems in Pakistan.

Much like President Obama's exit strategy in Iraq, we need a clear exit strategy for Afghanistan. The Afghani and Pakistani people need to know our troops are not permanent. Unfortunately, President Obama has doubled down in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan will not become stable until a political consensus is found across ethnic, tribal, religious and party affiliations. The government must be able to provide basic security for its population without the corruption that exists today. These same needs are just as true in Pakistan.

H. Con. Res. 248 is flawed because it offers a blunt directive to bring all the troops home in a short time frame. The resolution also offers an opportunity send a message to the President that his Afghan strategy is failing. My vote in favor of this resolution is a vote against the President's surge strategy in Afghanistan, a vote to demand an exit plan, and a vote to demand a regional diplomatic response to undercut the radicalization of Pakistan.

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