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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid