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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid