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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, I rise with the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton), my chairman, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. I join with my colleagues from the Foreign Affairs Committee and my colleagues from the Armed Services Committee in opposition to this resolution. I am very disappointed that the House Democratic leadership would allow this resolution to come to the floor at this time for a vote. One only has to look at the headlines to know that our military forces are making progress in their offensive against the Taliban insurgents in Helmand province, even as they face snipers, mines, improvised explosive devices, and a skeptical Afghan population.

The Kucinich resolution does nothing to advance the efforts of our military commanders and troops as they work side by side with their Afghan and coalition partners. Representative Kucinich's resolution, if enacted into law, would mandate the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2010. Why consider this resolution now? Why second-guess the Commander in Chief and his commander so soon after the announcement of a new strategy? Four months ago, the President reminded us why we are in Afghanistan. It was the epicenter of where al Qaeda planned and launched the 9/11 attacks against innocent Americans. The President recommitted the United States to defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban and authorized the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. A portion of those forces have arrived and others are readying to deploy.

Like most Republicans, I support the President's decision to surge in Afghanistan. I believe that with additional forces, combined with giving General McChrystal the time, space and resources he needs, we can win this conflict. We do not have a choice. We must defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban. This means taking all necessary steps to ensure al Qaeda does not have a sanctuary in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

At the end of last year, I had hoped that the war debate in this country had ended, and we would give a chance for that strategy to work, we would give a chance for those soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors who have been sent there to carry out their mission, to be successful. I had hoped, as a Nation, we could move toward a place of action; we wouldn't be in a position of second-guessing before we even had a chance to complete that mission. During the debate last year, no one said that it was going to be easy.

The current operation in Afghanistan has been successful but has not come without challenges. However, as we stand here today, the Afghan flag is flying in Marjah city center. The Taliban flag has been removed. This lone flag sends a clear message to Afghans that the central government is committed to people there, that we're not going to cut and run. We're going to be with them and help successfully conclude this mission so that they can finally have peace.

Some have compared our efforts there to Russians or others in the past and have talked about the defeat of other nations in this country. We're not there to take over this country. We're there to provide them freedom. That's why we're going to be successful.

However, this debate is not being conducted in a vacuum. Our troops are listening. Our allies are listening. The Taliban and al Qaeda also are listening. And finally, the Afghan people are listening. This resolution sends the message, ``Pay no attention to the flag over Marjah. America cannot be trusted to uphold its own values and commitments.''

I will be attending a funeral Saturday. Each of us I am sure here have had to perform that duty. It is not one I am looking forward to. I have attended several in the past. But at this point, for me to go to that funeral and tell the Geligs that their son, Sergeant Gelig, lost his life over an effort that we are going to cut and run from is something I cannot do.

Mr. Speaker, I want to send a clear message to the Afghan people and government that our coalition partners, our military men and women, this Congress believes in you, we support you, we honor your dedication and your sacrifice. I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this resolution.

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