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SMART: More Security at a Fraction of the Cost

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, the violence rages on in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, suicide bombers struck in three different cities, in each case targeting Shiite worshipers who are observing a religious holiday.

The death toll is at least 63, according to a news report; and a Pakistani extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. One eyewitness told The New York Times: ``We saw 30 or 40 people on the ground missing arms or legs.'' Another said the Kabul

blast was timed to wreak the maximum havoc, as the bomber detonated at the moment that the crowd was largest, when one group was going into a mosque and another was exiting.

In the 10 years of this war, it's the first attack specifically against Shiites, adding a sectarian angle and religious tension that hadn't previously been prevalent in the Afghanistan conflict.

Mr. Speaker, how can we call our occupation of Afghanistan a success when, after 10 years of attacks like this and making a young woman like BiBi who was talked about on the other side of the aisle earlier this morning, make her victimization and her terrorization commonplace. When this is commonplace, we cannot be having success in Afghanistan.

The truth is our continued military presence is aggravating the violence, not containing it, and certainly not stopping it. I'm not saying that Afghanistan will be magically transformed when the last of our troops leaves; but our best hope for peace, for security and stability there is a swift end to this war.

But here's another important thing, Mr. Speaker. If we do this right and have an end to the war that is meaningful, it would mean the beginning of an even more robust engagement with Afghanistan, an engagement based on the principles of SMART Security, in other words, a peaceful partnership based on mutual respect, assistance to strengthening Afghanistan's democratic infrastructure, not with military force, but with civilian support.

SMART Security would empower the Afghan people investing in their hopes and dreams, instead of bringing further violence to their country. Military redeployment out of Afghanistan can't and won't mean a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

So I hope that every single one of my colleagues who has eagerly rubber-stamped war spending year after year, even while complaining about the United States budget deficits, will show the same enthusiasm and the same support for a humanitarian surge in Afghanistan.

I have to shake my head, Mr. Speaker, every time I hear someone say we can't afford such generous foreign aid. Talk about penny wise and pound foolish. Last fiscal year we spent roughly $2.5 billion on development assistance in Afghanistan. Mr. Speaker, we go through that much war spending in Afghanistan every single week. The bottom line is that smart investments provide more security at a fraction of the cost, pennies on the dollar compared to waging war.

Allowing extreme poverty and widespread unemployment to prevail throughout Afghanistan imperils our national security as much as anything else. Where there's hopelessness, that's where insurgents get a foothold. Nothing breeds terrorism like hardship, deprivation, and despair.

Mr. Speaker, because it's the right thing to do and because it's the best way to protect America, let's bring our troops home and make the transition to SMART Security. And let's do it now.

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