News / Asia

US Lawmakers, Experts Discuss Withdrawal of Troops from Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers stand guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2013.U.S. soldiers stand guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2013.
x
U.S. soldiers stand guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2013.
U.S. soldiers stand guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27, 2013.
Cindy Saine
The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has held a hearing on the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan after the planned withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Some lawmakers expressed concern about the impact of U.S. forces leaving, while others said most Americans have grown weary of the 12-year war.

The chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa is criticizing Democratic President Barack Obama's plan to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of this year. Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says there is no clear withdrawal plan and that there are consequences for leaving hastily.

"Leaving before stability is assured would not only unravel all that we have worked so hard to accomplish in Afghanistan, but would undermine the efforts of our men and women who have served so bravely and have sacrificed so much in Afghanistan," Ros-Lehtinen said.

Several Democratic lawmakers defended the president, saying he focused on achieving realistic goals in Afghanistan and that the country is now better off in many ways, including having a healthier economy and more children going to school. But Democratic delegate Eni Faleomavaega, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, said that after 12 years, Americans are suffering from battle fatigue.

"In my opinion Madame Chair, the American people never sought an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan, nor did they see the goal as nation-building. They are well aware that Afghanistan has been called 'the graveyard of empires,'" Faleomavaega said.

He said it is now up to the Afghan people to set the course for their future.

But the foreign policy experts testifying at the hearing also expressed concern about the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan after U.S. troops withdraw. Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation pointed to the problems that Iraq has seen after all U.S. troops withdrew from that country.

"My bottom line, as I outline it this afternoon, is that I think it would be detrimental to U.S. national security to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan, as the U.S. has done in Iraq. I think the United States should continue to conduct counterterrorism operations in the country and assist Afghans in conducting counterinsurgency operations after 2014," Jones said.

Jones argued that great progress has been made in Afghanistan, and that a complete pullout could pose a risk to real advances made towards equality for women and a lower infant mortality rate. Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation also took an optimistic view, saying five million refugees have returned to Afghanistan, and he said there has not been a comparable return of refugees to Iraq, for example. Additionally, Bergen pointed to a positive sign in Pakistan, even though he acknowledged the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is troubled.

"So the fact that civilian government has completed its terms and that Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect another civilian government, we are looking at a period when we might have a decade on uninterrupted civilian rule, which is enormously important as we look to the future of the region," Bergen said.

Several lawmakers and the experts agreed that the 2014 elections in Afghanistan, and whether they are viewed to be fair and free, will be crucial to the country, and the region's future.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid