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The Afghanistan War: Costing Us Dearly

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Another day, Mr. Speaker, another wave of attacks by insurgents in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported yesterday that the Taliban killed five police officers with a roadside bomb in what it calls ``a relatively peaceful province'' in central Afghanistan.

Separate attacks in Kandahar led to the deaths of three officers, with six civilians wounded. A motorcycle bomb took the lives of several more people in Helmand province on Sunday night, and then yet another motorcycle bomb in northern Afghanistan on Monday, wounding 26, with 10 in critical condition. And a deeply disturbing video is making its way around the Internet showing a 22-year-old Afghan woman being brutally executed by the Taliban over accusations of adultery.

Almost 11 years after our military occupation began, the security situation in Afghanistan is clearly abysmal. Our troops are in danger, Afghan security forces are in danger, and innocent civilians are in danger. Nearly 11 years ago, we went to war with the goal of defeating the Taliban, and yet the Taliban is alive and well, winning recruits, operating in the shadows, and ruling by terror throughout Afghanistan.

I'm not saying that ending the war and bringing our troops home will stabilize Afghanistan overnight. But I am saying that the longer we continue with our military occupation, the more we breathe life into the very forces we're trying to defeat. It is the resentment of our boots on the ground that is helping to sustain the Taliban.

There are clearly urgent humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, Mr. Speaker, and we have a moral responsibility to help meet them.

This is one of the poorest nations on Earth, with infrastructure needs, children who need schools, and malnutrition that must be addressed. But deploying thousands and thousands of troops for more than a decade is not the way to meet these challenges. Our military is not trained or equipped to do that kind of work.

For pennies on the dollar, Mr. Speaker, we can have a true civilian surge, investing in development aid to improve the lives of the Afghan people. We could give USAID a fraction of the $10 billion a month we spend on the war in Afghanistan and we could do a world of good. This approach isn't just the right thing to do, it isn't just a moral imperative, it's the SMART national security strategy as well.

On the other hand, the existing strategy of invasion and occupation has not served us well. The Afghanistan war has cost us dearly--in precious lives, in taxpayer dollars, in moral authority, and global credibility. It is undermining our national security interests instead of advancing them.

Mr. Speaker, it's time to do the smart thing--bring our troops home and, in return, invest in the hopes and future of the Afghan people--and do it now.

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