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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground 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.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid