How to Succeed in Afghanistan: Are More Troops the Answer?Published by Pamela Gentry on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 11:25 pm.
By Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Calif.)
May 19, 2009 – As a founder and leader of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, I opposed the failed Bush policy in Iraq, and I am now increasingly concerned that escalating military involvement in Afghanistan could lead to disastrous consequences.
I believe we must enable the people of Afghanistan to develop a stable and functioning state that cannot be used by al Qaeda terrorists, the Taliban and other extremists to threaten our security or other nations.
The question is how can we best achieve this objective?
President Obama and his key advisors – including military leaders – have acknowledged that nonmilitary initiatives are essential to stabilizing Afghanistan. However, his most recent spending request for Afghanistan and Iraq dedicates only about ten percent of funds to humanitarian, diplomatic and other civilian efforts.
I am also disappointed that there is no exit strategy or timeline or set of benchmarks to measure progress.
The spending bill presented to the House of Representatives for a vote last week simply continues and amplifies the failed policies that have caused us to be caught up in a continued occupation of Iraq and an increasingly large presence in Afghanistan.
Instead of playing the Taliban shell game, we should devise a smart strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan. They will help us to locate Osama bin Laden.
Airstrikes that kill innocent civilians will only harden the civilians against us.
The Taliban is leading us into Pakistan, where we are on the verge of establishing a new footprint. Previously, U.S. policy gave the former Pakistani President Musharraf billions of dollars while he was playing footsie with the Taliban and allowing it to control the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now President Zardari has proven to be weak and ineffective, yet he is being rewarded with more of our tax dollars.
Next week, we will observe Memorial Day and remember the sacrifice of those who have given their lives while serving our nation, including almost 5000 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As we honor them, I will also be thinking of the brave men and women now in uniform, and I will continue my efforts to bring them home safely to their loved ones.
I believe we must place our troops in harm’s way only as a last resort and only with a sound plan.
Tens of thousands of American troops are serving courageously and honorably in Afghanistan, but they have been executing a flawed strategy, and Afghanistan remains mired in violence with a weak and corrupt central government. I am worried that sending another 21,000 troops there will not succeed, and instead I advocate strengthening our diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives.
Do you think we should continue to send more troops to Afghanistan?