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Smart Security: A Strategy that Invests in Afghanistan and Its People

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, last weekend, the United States Government and Afghanistan reached a strategic agreement to define the terms of the relationship between our two countries in the near-term future.

First of all, this agreement affirms that our combat troops will not leave Afghanistan until 2014, which is far too slow a timetable. Don't we have enough evidence right here after 10-plus years that we're not making America safer with this war, we're not minimizing the terrorist threat, and we're not bringing stability and security to Afghanistan?

How much more will Americans be asked to sacrifice? How many more tens of billions in taxpayer dollars will be wasted when we have so many needs right here at home? How many more Americans have to come home in a casket? How many more will take their own lives because the mental health distress of serving in a combat zone becomes too much? How many more have to spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair, or without a limb or limbs, because of injuries suffered in an immoral and unnecessary war?

Believe me, Mr. Speaker, there is not a minute to waste. Now is the moment to end this war and bring our troops home.

The meeting this weekend does, however, show the importance of a plan going forward, a plan that will define the terms of our engagement with Afghanistan after the war is over.

I've always said that ending the military occupation does not mean abandoning Afghanistan. The question is, what form will our partnership take? And on that question, the agreement signed this weekend provides very little guidance.

According to The Washington Post, in fact, and I'll quote them, they say: ``The specifics of the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan have yet to be formally outlined.''

Then The Post adds that ``the document provides only a vaguely worded reassurance, leaving many to guess at what the U.S. commitment means in practice.''

Well, Mr. Speaker, we need more than a guess. We need a clear strategy for investing in Afghanistan and it's people. And while a lot of the talk has been about continuing to shore up Afghan security forces, we need a much more comprehensive approach.

In short, we need to implement SMART Security, the strategy that I've spoken of from this spot hundreds of times since 2004. SMART Security would replace our military surge with a civilian surge. It would put humanitarian aid in front and center. It would emphasize development and diplomacy instead of invasion and occupation.

It would mean, in place of troops and weapons, we send experts with tools and resources to rebuild Afghan infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. It would mean investing in programs to improve maternal health and child mortality. It would mean a focus on democracy promotion and rebuilding civil society in Afghanistan. It would also mean shifting the emphasis to peace-building, conflict prevention, and human rights education.

This approach would save lives. It would promote peace. It is a superior counterterrorism and national security strategy. It will keep the American people safe. It will advance our values in a way that a decade of war clearly has not.

We can't wait until 2014, Mr. Speaker. We need a SMART Security approach in Afghanistan, and we need it now. And we need to start by bringing our troops home.

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