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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs