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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WELCH. Madam Chair, the war in Afghanistan had a legitimate purpose when it began. That was the grounds from which Osama Bin Laden engineered the attack on the World Trade Center. Congress supported going into Afghanistan to take out Osama Bin Laden and to deny a safe haven to terrorists. At a certain point, the policy transformed from an effort to protect us against a base of operations into a nation-building mission.

That was a grave mistake. Adopting nation-building will be seen through the lens of history as being about as effective as trench warfare in World War I.

Our military will do whatever is asked of them. Our job is to make requests of them that are reasonable for them to do. It is not the job of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military to build nation-states in Afghanistan. That policy failed militarily. That policy is unsustainable economically. That policy does not make us more secure. Why?

One, it is not the job of the military to build nation-states. It is the job of the military--and it is one they do very well--to protect America from attack.

Two, if you are attempting a nation-building strategy, you need an ally that is going to be a partner with you. The Karzai government is corrupt. It is infected with corruption. It has exceeded our wildest and most pessimistic expectations of what corruption can be. We do not have a reliable partner.

So the question becomes: At what point do we step back when we have the responsibility to set a policy that protects this Nation, to set a policy that respects our taxpayer, to set a policy that acknowledges the willingness of men and women to serve but that accepts our burden of giving them a policy that is worthy of their unrelenting ability and willingness to sacrifice?

As we know, the American people believe it is time to come home from Afghanistan. They understand it. The President of the United States has said that we will bring our troops home by the end of 2014. So the policies have been changed. The war in Afghanistan, in fact, is over. The question for Congress is: Will we end it?

We are giving it ever more money for a policy we know doesn't work. We know the Karzai government is incapable and unwilling to be an honest partner. We know that nation-building is a strategy that cannot succeed. We know that the threat of terrorism, as persistent as it is, is not a nation-state-centered threat. It is dispersed, and our military response to that has likewise become dispersed.

So why are we pursuing this policy when we have renounced it, acknowledged that it has failed?

The American people don't support it. It's inertia. It is the unwillingness of Congress to take a definitive action where our policy should match our deeds. We are bringing our troops home. We should have as a policy that we bring those troops home as quickly--as quickly--as we responsibly can.

Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


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