Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, as Congress begins next year to consider a range of policy choices in both domestic and foreign policy areas, I hope that at long last, we will decide that the war in Afghanistan must end.
That war has lasted 9 years and we are now engaged in nation building in a country with a government that I believe is both incompetent and corrupt.
We began the actions in Afghanistan to capture or kill the terrorist groups that had launched the 9/11 attack on our country.
Now, many years later, we are bogged down in a war in Afghanistan where our intelligence officials tell us there is only a minimal presence of the terrorist group al-Qaida. Some estimates put the number of al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan at fewer than one hundred.
We are now engaged in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and, frankly, there are a number of foreign armies that have tried and failed in Afghanistan over many centuries.
I don't believe there is any chance of our ever controlling the tribal regions of Afghanistan.
Furthermore, we ought to be fighting terrorism where terrorists, are rather than where terrorists were. We know that al-Qaida has reconstituted training camps in Northern Pakistan, and we suspect that is where their leadership is. We know al-Qaida is in Somalia and Yemen and other places. But, we are bogged down fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. And frankly, that is not where the terrorists are.
It is time for our country to understand that this is an effort that will continue to drain our treasury and will result in the deaths of more American troops, but will not result in our controlling the territory of Afghanistan. We will be stuck for a long period of time with a permanent military presence at great cost and we will be paying for Afghanistan's defense even while failing to control the tribal regions of Afghanistan.
Recognition of those facts ought to persuade us to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan as soon as possible and begin pursuing terrorists where terrorists are now, not where they were then.