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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NADLER. Madam Chair, I regret what I am about to say could have been and was said a year ago. Not much has changed, but more lives have been destroyed and more billions of dollars have been wasted, all to no intelligent purpose.

The whole premise of the Afghanistan war is wrong. The rationale for the war is to fight al Qaeda, but most of the day-to-day fighting is against an entrenched Taliban insurgency that will outlast any foreign fighters. Fighting in Afghanistan does not enhance the security of the United States in any way.

In 2001, we were attacked on 9/11 by al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had bases in Afghanistan, and at that time it made sense to go in and destroy those bases--and we did. But that took about 3 weeks. We should have withdrawn after those 3 weeks.

The CIA told us a couple of years ago that there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda personnel in all of Afghanistan. So why do we still have 70,000 troops there, troops who will continue to risk their lives every day in a war that has already claimed far too many lives? And why should we continue pouring billions of dollars into an intractable mess when we should be devoting those funds to our own economy, our own jobs, our own schools, our own bridges and roads and highways, our own housing, social programs, and education?

Afghanistan is in the middle of what is, so far, a 35-year civil war. We do not have either the need or the ability to determine the winner in that war, which is what we're trying to do. If we continue on this course, in 2 years there will be hundreds more dead American soldiers, several hundred billion more dollars wasted, and two or three more provinces labeled ``pacified.'' But as soon as we leave, now or in 2014 or 2016 or 2024 or whenever, those provinces will become ``unpacified,'' the Taliban and the warlords will step up the fighting again, and the Afghan civil war will continue its normal, natural course.

Our troops are fighting valiantly, but we are there on the wrong mission. We should recognize that rebuilding Afghanistan in our own image, that setting up a stable government that will last is both beyond our ability and beyond our mandate to prevent terrorists from attacking the United States.

We fulfilled the mission in protecting America from terrorists based in Afghanistan over 10 years ago. We should have withdrawn our troops 10 years ago. We should withdraw them now. We shouldn't wait until 2014. We shouldn't have several thousands advisers or troops helping the Afghanis for another 10 years. They have their own civil war they have been fighting for 35 years.

I wish we could have waved a magic wand and ended it, but we can't. We should not participate in an Afghan civil war. We do not need to pick the winner in that civil war. We do not have the ability to pick that winner in that civil war. All we are doing is wasting lives, wasting limbs, wasting people, and wasting dollars. We ought to end our involvement in Afghanistan as rapidly as we can physically remove our troops.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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