While I work aggressively in Washington to represent our District's concerns, I try to get to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as much as my schedule and the operations in-country allow. When assessing the nation's efforts, I am most struck by the noble work by our Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines. Our most precious resource, the men and women of our Armed Forces, are engaged in a tough fight with the Taliban and al Qaeda and we will win this fight.
Our national security interests, and those of our allies, intersect in Afghanistan; the United States presence in that country is keeping us safe. We need to remain committed to the region according to a well-reasoned case. Today, many of the terrorists responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 remain abroad and are widely believed to be reconstituting a base of operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. These terrorists threaten the stability of the regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the United States remains at risk until this vast and mostly ungoverned region is stabilized and no longer threatened by extremists and their bankrupt ideologies.
The Administration's announcement of additional troops for Afghanistan is a welcome approach. Although the President opposed the surge in Iraq, he now recognizes the usefulness of such an action and I applaud his ability to acknowledge some good choices were made by the previous Administration.
But the addition of troops to Afghanistan is only one aspect of the strategy and the Administration's emphasis on soft power has already resulted in some troubling developments. On February 15, the Pakistanis and the Taliban signed the Malakand Accord, which ceded the land once viewed as a beautiful resort area to the Taliban. Within two months, the Taliban fighters swept into the neighboring district of Buner that lies only 60 miles from the capitol city of Islamabad.
Soft power is being overemphasized and presents a false panacea to the regional instability. We must continue to balance our approach, and use the lessons learned by General Petraeus in Iraq; secured through to the bravery and sacrifice of our troops. In short, the use of hard power, or threat of its use, enables the soft power to work. In the absence of security and stability, any economic assistance we provide to Pakistan will ultimately fail to achieve any good.
I also believe we need to provide the resources to our troops they need to get the job done. Recently, one of my colleagues, Chairman of the House Appropriations committee David Obey, suggested that Congress might withhold war funds if progress is not made in the coming year. This statement is incredibly irresponsible and puts our troops at risk. His comments provoked a bi-partisan response criticizing his comments. My position is clear--the troops will receive the resources to get the job done and we will win this fight.