Monday, February 24, 2014

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon -- A safe, secure Afghanistan is within our grasp -- don’t let it slip away --- For nearly 13 years now, the United States has been at war in Afghanistan. We’re there because Afghanistan was used as a launch pad for attacks that killed Americans. We have a responsibility for the safety and security of our citizens. And we don’t abandon that responsibility just because the fight is hard. -- If you read polls, you’ll hear that American support for the Afghanistan campaign has dipped below 20%. If you listen to the news, you’ll hear about a hopeless campaign to win the unwinnable. That’s if you hear about it at all. Looking at those barometers, the American people know two things. They know the war is going badly. And they know most of their neighbors oppose our involvement there. But neither polls nor the press paint the full picture. Neither tell the full story. -- That story is a hopeful one. Not blindly so, but hopeful nonetheless. Traditionally, it is right and proper that these stories come from the commander-in-chief. But he has talked about Afghanistan only a handful of times during his presidency. And each time, President Obama praised his run for the exits or pitied our wounded, instead of lauding the accomplishments of our troops and the importance of the mission they were given to fight. So, if the president of the United States won’t give this speech, I will. ---- In 2001, after the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, the United States invaded Afghanistan. The very act of toppling the Taliban regime was both strategically and technologically astounding. In three months time, America and her allies knocked down a regime 7,000 miles away in landlocked, mountainous terrain. -- We dropped young men and women in a combat zone with a brutal climate, with no support other than by air, and a tough, determined enemy fighting on his home turf. We asked them to establish supply lines that any sane logistics officer would call impossible.We asked them to fight a war they hadn’t trained for, in a land that had buried the most powerful empires in the world. -- Not only did they succeed; they kicked the Taliban down in three months – that’s less than a semester to their college friends back home. Then, we asked them to do something even harder. -- Make no mistake – an insurgency is the hardest type of war a democracy can fight. Holding a new country steady, with insurgents hiding among innocents, can take years. --- I won’t sugarcoat it. The American people are sick and tired of this war. And it is their will--not the enemy’s-- that will determine Afghanistan’s fate. It’s the will of the American people that’s the most important weapon in this fight – not million dollar smart bombs or aircraft carriers. -- So here are the questions we have to ask ourselves. -- Is Afghanistan less of a threat to the United States than it was 13 years ago? --- In May of 2012, President Obama and President Karzai signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement. We declared them a “major non-NATO ally,” and the Afghans ratified the agreement in both houses of Parliament.Also in May of 2012, the international community got behind the effort. In Chicago, NATO pledged to support Afghanistan through 2017. In July, at the Tokyo Conference, the wider international community declared its support for Afghanistan with a promise of $16 billion worth of assistance. -- The Afghan people have been amazing allies. President Karzai has not. But let’s not pin our hopes on one man, especially one who is packing his bags in a few months. -- The Loya Jurga is overwhelmingly behind the B.S.A. Polls show that 70% of Afghans want us to stay. They haven’t forgotten how quickly we left after the Soviet occupation – and how that ended up. -- There’s also an election coming up, and most of the presidential candidates support a long-term agreement with the United States. -- You don’t need to look past Baghdad to see how quickly gains can unravel. We went into Afghanistan to do a job. Americans don’t like starting things we don’t intend to finish, no matter how hard it may be. -- Locking down that BSA is the last big diplomatic step towards getting that job done permanently. It’s vital to keeping the coalition going– I’m sure the lack of a BSA will be the subject of intense discussion at the NATO ministerials meeting this week. --- Finally, we owe it to ourselves to have a frank discussion about America’s moral responsibility in Afghanistan. The Taliban are brutal. They are a cruel, barbaric horde and their kind has no place in the 21st century. We abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban once before. And both the United States and the people of Afghanistan paid the price. -- America leads the world. Leadership has responsibilities. There are times when democracies must take a hard look inward. There are times when we must come to terms with the burden of our values. Afghanistan is one of those moments. --- Do we step back and abandon Afghanistan to the wolves? Do we still have a moral responsibility to the people there? Does our humanity still compel us to help people who have known nothing but war for 4 decades? ---- Go to the White House’s prominent and dedicated page on its website for Iraq. At White you get an interactive timeline praising the end of the Iraq War. They eagerly take credit for leaving Iraq. You can ask the Iraqis how that’s been going for them. --- In startling contrast, there’s nothing special, or even prominent, about what our troops have achieved in Afghanistan – what the president once referred to as the “good war. Go to, and you’ll find a photo of the presidential seal hanging on a vacant podium. It reads: “Sorry, the page you’re looking for can’t be found.” Even the White House blog on their Afghan-Pakistan strategy hasn’t been updated recently. -- Mr. President, you may have stumbled there, but a safe and secure Afghanistan is within our grasp. Don’t let it slip away. - More, FOX News, at:


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