News / USA

    US Lawmakers Debate Afghanistan Ahead of Obama Speech

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2011 (file photo)
    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2011 (file photo)
    Michael Bowman

    Hours before President Barack Obama's address on the future of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, lawmakers in Washington passionately debated the costs and benefits of a war that has lasted nearly 10 years.

    Polls show Americans increasingly weary and disillusioned about the war in Afghanistan. Many of their representatives on Capitol Hill say they, too, are fatigued and frustrated.

    "I implore the president: end the war, bring our troops home," noted Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California who took to the House floor with a message for President Obama.  "This must not be a token withdrawal. How many more lives have to be destroyed, how many more Americans have to leave limbs behind in Afghanistan, and how many more billions in taxpayer money do we have to waste?"

    That sentiment is not limited to Democrats. Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina urged the United States to declare victory in Afghanistan and end the war.

    "Bring the troops home," said Jones.  "History has proven you will never change Afghanistan. They [Afghans] do not want to change themselves. Quite frankly, the Taliban are Afghan people. It is a civil war."

    An Army carry team carries the transfer cases containing the remains of Army Spc. Scott D. Smith of Indianapolis, Indiana upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware on June 21, 2011.
    An Army carry team carries the transfer cases containing the remains of Army Spc. Scott D. Smith of Indianapolis, Indiana upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware on June 21, 2011.

    House Speaker John Boehner told reporters he understands public sentiment on the matter.

    "The American people are weary about Afghanistan," said Boehner.  "You cannot blame them. You have 100,000 of our men and women fighting in this desert over there. But remember why we are there. We are there because the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan. They had provided a safe haven to al Qaida. The goal here is to make sure they do not have that safe haven."

    Boehner added that, having invested so much in Afghanistan, the United States should not jeopardize gains made in the country.

    The chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, reminded fellow-lawmakers of the hidden costs of war.

    "With all the talk about troop levels, I want to make sure that we remember this is not just about numbers," said Murray.  "It is about real people with real families. We all hear about how expensive war is while we are fighting it. But for so many of our servicemembers, what happens on the battlefield is just the beginning. We are seeing suicide rates that are much higher among active-duty servicemembers and veterans than among civilians. We are watching as these men and women are sent out on tour after tour. Too often, they are having a tough time finding a job when they come home."

    The tough economy and America's fiscal woes were clearly on the mind of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia when he spoke late Tuesday.

    "We can no longer have it all," said Manchin.  "The question the president faces is quite simple. Will we choose to rebuild America or Afghanistan? In light of our nation's fiscal perils, we cannot do both."

    Manchin's comments drew a swift rebuke from Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

    "We withdrew from Afghanistan onetime [after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989]. And the Taliban came, followed by al Qaida, followed by attacks on the United States of America. If we leave Afghanistan in defeat, we will repeat the lessons of history," added Manchin.

    From the beginning of his administration, President Obama has promised to listen to his commanders when making decisions about America's foreign military commitments. House Speaker Boehner counseled the president to continue that practice when it comes to Afghanistan.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora