David Price on Afghanistan – Should We Stay or Should We Go

I listened to David Price in the following videos concerning the war in Afghanistan but his doublespeak did not make sense to me:

Tax the rich, free market health care and Afghanistan:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izOGCfwCyuA

Why Are We in Afghanistan:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3kMAEjjQmg

I went to his website to get clarification on his Afghan position and include it below in its entirety (he may change it to agree with part of his statements in the videos).

Afghanistan

Nearly ten years after U.S. combat forces invaded Afghanistan to overthrow al-Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors, the country’s future remains uncertain.  The security gains made in the early years of the conflict have largely evaporated, allowing Taliban insurgents to regain control over large swaths of Afghan territory.  The promise of a legitimate and effective Afghan government, embodied vividly by the country’s successful parliamentary elections in 2005, has been eroded by rampant corruption and electoral fraud.  As security conditions have deteriorated and faith in the central government has waned, Afghanistan’s social and economic development – so critical to the outcome of the conflict – have also suffered.

There is plenty of blame to go around for these discouraging trends, but I believe we must now focus on the challenge before us:  bringing our military involvement in Afghanistan to a responsible conclusion.  To that end, I cosponsored H.R. 5015 in the 111th Congress, which required an exit strategy from the conflict.  This does not mean killing or capturing every enemy fighter, as President Bush’s misguided policy attempted to do.  Nor does it mean establishing a modern, Western-style democracy in Afghanistan’s borders. 

Instead, it means fostering the conditions necessary for Afghanistan’s civilian and military institutions to meet the basic needs of their people and prevent the country from reverting to a failed state.  It also means supporting the development of Pakistani institutions capable of securing their territory and undermining the appeal of violent extremism.  For while the insurgencies in both countries pose a serious threat to the Afghan and Pakistani people, the greater threat to our own national security comes from a failed or perpetually unstable state within Afghanistan’s borders – one in which the Taliban could reestablish a safe haven for international terrorists, and one in which instability could spill over into nuclear-armed Pakistan and other countries.  In other words, the challenges we face in the region are not primarily military ones, and our military presence is justifiable only to the extent that it supports the development of stable and self-reliant Afghan and Pakistani institutions.

To what extent this goal is ultimately achievable remains an open question, and I am attuned to the view that our continued military efforts are not worth the cost – particularly during these difficult economic times.  While I share these concerns about the recent trajectory of the conflict, however, I do not believe we have yet reached this point, for two main reasons.

First, the additional troops and civilians called for in President Obama’s strategy have only recently deployed fully, as has the new U.S.-NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus; we should not expect the impact of this surge to be felt overnight.  Second, and more importantly, beneath the negative headlines both Afghanistan and Pakistan have made significant progress toward building stronger and more effective institutions over the past several years.  I have participated directly in their efforts as chairman of the House Democracy Partnership, a bipartisan commission that works to strengthen legislative institutions in 14 countries around the world.  In this capacity, I have worked closely with many credible Afghan and Pakistani leaders who are dedicated to building a brighter future for their people.  While the challenges they face are formidable, the emergence of legitimate and functional legislatures in both countries offers hope that stable and effective civilian governance is possible.

Even so, my patience is not unlimited, and my support for the President’s strategy is not unconditional.   I believe strongly that Congress must hold the President to his commitment to begin drawing down U.S. forces from Afghanistan by next summer, and I have supported various efforts to do so in Congress.  In the last Congress, I also supported the Obey-McGovern amendment to  the emergency supplemental funding bill for fiscal year 2010 (H.R. 4899), which would have required a similar exit strategy and reined in the activities of private contractors in Afghanistan.  Although the amendment failed by a vote of 162 to 260, it plotted a course which many of my colleagues and I plan to follow in the months ahead.

Ultimately, the challenges we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan underscore the fact that our nation’s security lies not in the size of our military but in the strength of our national character and the depth of our relationships.  After eight years in which we lost sight of this fact, we now have a chance to set a more balanced course.  While success in Afghanistan is not guaranteed, we still have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to bring our military involvement there to an end in a manner that maximizes our chances of achieving it.

After watching the videos and reading his statement, what do you think his of Afghan position?

David DeGerolamo

      
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