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Smart Security: Better Investments and Greater Returns

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, yesterday Americans filed their tax returns, sending the Federal Treasury funds for the government to perform vital functions. Unfortunately, much of that money, way too much of that money, continues to be wasted on a policy that has failed miserably.

I'm talking about a policy that has lost the confidence of the American people whose taxes support it, a policy that has cost nearly 2,000 American lives, a policy that has done more to undermine our national security goals than is done to make our Nation safer. Of course, I'm talking about the war in Afghanistan.

This past weekend brought yet more evidence that our continued military presence in Afghanistan, carrying a price tag of roughly $10 billion a month, is stirring up unrest and emboldening insurgents rather than providing security and stability. Beginning this last Sunday, the Taliban launched a series of bold, coordinated, and simultaneous attacks throughout Afghanistan, hitting the parliament building and diplomatic sites throughout the country.

Thankfully, there were limited casualties. By many accounts, the Afghan security forces handled themselves with skill in response to the violence, which is very good news, because as the Afghans are better able to police and protect themselves, that's all the more reason to hasten our military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Every day that we continue our military occupation, Mr. Speaker, is another day that we breed resentment, that we inflame tensions and create more impassioned enemies.

Mr. Speaker, the American people are writing the check for this war. In fact, they just sent in their annual check this week. They deserve a better return on that investment. They deserve a set of policies that are more humane, more consistent with our best values as a Nation, and more likely to advance our national security objectives.

They deserve the kind of SMART Security approach I have been talking about for many years now. Instead of invasions and warfare, we need diplomacy, we need multilateral cooperation. Instead of military surges, we need civilian surges. Instead of troops with guns, we need to send humanitarian experts, experts that can help Afghanistan and other developing countries fight poverty, rebuild their infrastructure, educate their people and so much more.

Listen to this quote, Mr. Speaker:

In today's ever-complex world, we must use all the tools of national security to achieve our objectives, including a strong State Department and other civilian-led agencies. Development and diplomacy keep us safe by addressing threats in the most dangerous corners of the world and by preventing conflicts before they occur.

That's an excellent explanation of SMART Security, but that's not Lynn Woolsey, and it's not the Out of Afghanistan Caucus talking. It's from a letter to Congress signed by 80 retired military leaders making the case not to cut USAID and arguing for a strong, international affairs budget.

The time is now, not in 2014, Mr. Speaker. The time is now to bring our brave troops home to implement the compassionate and cost-effective SMART Security agenda that can keep our Nation safe, and it can keep peace in the world.

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