News / Asia

No Swift Pullout from Afghanistan, says US Senator

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, (l) accompanied by the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Richard Lugar
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, (l) accompanied by the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Richard Lugar
Michael Bowman

A leading U.S. senator says despite the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Special Forces, a rapid pullout of American troops from Afghanistan would be unwise.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry described the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden as a “game-changing” opportunity in the war on terror, but not an event that should trigger a rapid U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

“Let me be clear," Kerry said. "I do not know of any serious policy person who believes that a unilateral precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan would somehow serve our interests or anybody’s interests. I do not believe that is a viable option.”

Instead, the Massachusetts senator suggested striving for the smallest U.S. presence possible that contains terror threats while preparing Afghanistan for the 2014 target date for withdrawing American forces.  How to achieve those goals was the focus of a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, framed the issue this way.

“The question before us is whether Afghanistan is important enough to justify the lives and massive resources that are being spent there, especially given our nation’s debt crisis," Lugar said.

U.S. expenditures in Afghanistan total roughly $10 billion a month, far exceeding resources devoted to fighting terrorism in other countries such as Yemen, where threats to American security are widely viewed as greater than those of Afghanistan.

Testifying at the hearing was defense expert Stephen Biddle of the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations. Biddle said narrowly comparing Afghan-based terror threats to those posed by other nations misses a larger point: that the United States has critical interests involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan.

“The threat emanating from places like Yemen, Djibouti, or Somalia is of conventional terrorism," Biddle said. "The downstream threat associated with failure uniquely in South Asia is the potential collapse of a nuclear-armed and unstable state that is facing an internal insurgency of its own in Pakistan

Another analyst said there are no quick, easy, or low-cost options when it comes to Afghanistan.  David Kilcullen is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

“The mission of the moment now in Afghanistan is to make the country stable enough that we can reduce the U.S. footprint to a sustainable level without an unacceptable drop in security," Kilcullen said. "And I think that is a relatively low bar [modest expectation]. But just because it is a low bar strategically does not mean that it is not going to cost a lot of resources to get there.”

Several senators expressed fatigue and dismay over the length of the war in Afghanistan and its continuing costs.  

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California had this response to an often-heard argument that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan are hampered by suspicions in both countries that the United States will disengage from the region.

“Pakistan is now the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance," Boxer said. "And the U.S. has spent more years fighting in Afghanistan than any other war.  If anybody says we are not committed to the region, what about the 100,000 forces we still have on the ground [in Afghanistan], half a trillion dollars we have spent, $10 billion a month?”

Senator Kerry said there is no military solution in Afghanistan, but a negotiated political solution involving the Afghan government, militants, and the international community may be possible.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid