by Countable | 7.5.17
A bipartisan group of senators traveled to Afghanistan over Independence Day and called on President Donald Trump to articulate a clear strategy in the Afghanistan War, the longest war in U.S. history.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led the delegation. He was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
In a press briefing at NATO headquarters in Kabul on Tuesday, McCain asserted that, "none of us would say that we are on a course to success here in Afghanistan... That needs to change and quickly."
Warren, on her first foreign trip since being seated on the Armed Services Committee, called for a clear, comprehensive, multi-level strategy:
"A solution needs to have a military angle, but also an economic and diplomatic plan. It needs to involve domestic political reconciliation, and it needs to be regional in nature, involving multiple countries in the area and account for external actors and influences. The administration owes it to the American people and to our men and women putting their lives at risk, to provide that clear vision of where we’re headed."
The senators specifically called for the immediate filling of key diplomatic positions that remain empty since the onset of the current administration. There is currently no permanent American ambassador to Afghanistan. The position is currently being filled by Hugo Llorens, a career diplomat, who was pulled in from retirement to deal with the complicated diplomatic situation temporarily.
The New York Times also notes that, "many of the senior positions in the State Department dealing with regional policy remain vacant, and the position of special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was recently scrapped."
Sen. Graham told reporters, "All of us realize that it’s more than just dropping bombs that will win in Afghanistan… Secretary Tillerson needs to come to Afghanistan quickly."
Supporting the U.S.-backed Afghan government, and negotiating between constantly competing factions, has consumed diplomats in the region for more than two years. Recently the Taliban has claimed more and more territory across the country from coalition and government troops. Reuters reports that the Taliban insurgency now controls or contests some 40 percent of Afghan territory.
President Trump announced in June that he was giving the responsibility for assessing necessary additional troop levels to the Pentagon, though the president is still required to sign off on an overall strategy. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to announce a new strategy for the conflict in mid-July. A troop increase of several thousand to augment the 8,800 troops already in the country is likely to be part of the plan.
Pentagon officials have also hinted that they will not put a timeline on maintaining the increased troop levels, suggesting there is no end in sight for the 16 year old war.
Do you support a comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable
We need to get the hell out of there. We accomplished our mission when we got Osama Bin Laden. We went there because he was behind the 9/11 attack. I wonder how many Americans even remember why we are there. Terrorism is with us to stay. Ask Israel how to deal with that fact. We will never get them all, ever. To say we are protecting the homeland by being there is a joke. Are we going to occupy every nation that harbors terrorists? ISIS is in the Philippines. We going there to fight them? The U.S. bankrupted Russia with the arms race. We are going to bankrupt ourselves chasing terrorist.
So you're telling me we didn't even have a strategy going in?
When is our legislative branch of our government going to get involved in real debate of the longest war. Or don’t you want to get involved? That way you will let the executive branch or our government make all the decisions. That’s NOT what our founding fathers intended. I only suggest you do your constitutional duty.
So, let me get this straight. Over the Independence Day holiday there were five US Senators who traveled to Afghanistan, maybe listened to a few PowerPoint presentations, shook a few hands, and now because of this visit they are asserting how we are not on a course for success in a war we have been fighting for 16 years. What I find fascinating about this is how each Senator now has his or her own idea or plan on what will work. The course of action we must take that will finally, after all this time, after all the lives lost and after all the blood that has been shed, will finally cede our defeats and put us on the path to victory. See, what these politicians fail to realize is that ‘they’ are the reason why we are still fighting this war. How can I be so sure? I can say this because I spent a year of my life getting shot at in Afghanistan and know firsthand how the policy that is set here, causes us to lose on the battlefield there. When we were allowed to actually fight the Taliban, push them back out of the towns and villages we were tasked with securing, we could then actually work with the local populace and were then able to see real, tangible, results. We were building bridges and schools and improving the overall quality of life. The Afghan Uniformed Police were becoming less corrupt, more efficient, and more independent. We were winning. The Taliban were losing. But then we had been ordered to tear everything down, withdraw, and turn the area over. As soon as we moved out, the Taliban moved in and started cutting off the heads of people they identified as having worked with us. Now, every time you hear of an attack into the city of Kunduz, this attack is launched from the very same area that was once considered safe. An area that we once held and kept protected. So how about the Politicians turn this fight over to the war fighters and let the men with painted faces do what we do best. Win.
I wonder if we learned our lesson in Vietnam? Judging from the current actions in Afghanistan, I'm inclined to say,"No, we didn't." Let's stop throwing money at a military machine that is chewing up young men and women for no clear gain. Afghanis aren't stepping up to secure their own freedom. We did our due diligence. Let's bringing home with an arguable win....We can use the money to build infrastructure and energy independence. Let Saudi Arabia fix the insurgency their religion of peace has birthed.
Follow the money. Who has made money over these last 16 years while regular Americans have buried their sons and daughters? Our strategy must be to bring our troops and weapons home and leave behind working models and plans for the technology to produce clean energy and water. Then we can perhaps get to work implementing these goals in our country as well as improving our infrastructure and other social goals. I urge you to abandon a boots on the ground fight against terrorism. When people can live their lives peacefully, comfortably, and culturally consistent with their tradition and values, those who choose terrorism will be seen and dealt with as neighborhood bullies. Our goal should not be to force democracy in Afghanistan. Arming the people to fight members of their clans has proven disastrous and our weapons are being used against us. Time for a new direction in this fight. It is hard to beat a person who is already winning.
We need to leave Afghanistan asap. Why are we still there?
Good job Senators. Push for that and for negotiations with that idiot in North Korea. Make sure that you take back control over declarations of war while you're at it. We have too many loosey-goosey attacks happening right now without congressional approval. Last I heard Congress would not give its approval for Obama to draw a redline in Syria yet somehow Trump dropped the mother of all bombs and nobody said a word. I think we should be involved in Syria to stop Assad and Isis but I just want to make sure that Congress does its oversight job. The Minority President is too trigger-happy and his agenda and decisions remain unpopular.
The biggest problem we have always had is not conclusively ending wars and then they come back over and over bring it to a decided total win and avoid leaving the crocodile in the river to strike again!!
What a remarkable idea: to have a strategy on war! I assumed this administration thought we didn't need one since we are supporting the industrial war complex and it's not on our home land so most US citizens don't even know what's going in over there. US citizens are not being killed and their homes bombed so they probably don't care. How have we gotten to this point?
Senators need to focus on stopping destructive internal policies that harm Americans, and let the military leadership handle strategy for Afghanistan. Pentagon has a much better track record currently, and makes a better teacher than student. Besides, we don't need to spread corruption to the pentagon, we should protect it. Senators should focus their efforts on voting according to the needs of the people they represent, instead of down the party line.
As a 62 year old who lived through the Vietnam War, we absolutely MUST have a clear goal, a strategy to get us there, plenty of funding and a lot of control over President. He doesn't have the temperament for War!
Ask a vet who served in this theatre. You will find through your questions that Afghanistan is an un-winnable hellhole. Why are we still there is the problem, not how many more American lives shall we put in harms way. Was the plan to stay there into perpetuity?
This and the other occupations will bankrupt our country of both money and lives. Get out now while we can still save some face. Whatever you do don't let 45 drag us into a side show in Korea either.
I agree and support hearing what the strategy is in Afghanistan and filling the state department positions. This administration wants to increase defense spending and troops. However, there is not a stated strategy about what results we expected. Obviously it is impossible to completely eradicate any and all threats so what s the goal and plan?!
But your savior Trump was supposed to stop ISIS in 30 days. What about that?
This war has lasted us too long. It cost us lives. It is time to put the machines down and lead a path for a better future in this country.
We need to get out of Afghanistan. It's a war we can't win. Ask the Russians. Unless you want to bankrupt the U.S. In doing so. Oh wait, too late. 20 trillion dollars in debt. I just hope Trump doesn't get us into a Korean War.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the remaining Middle East in general, Russia, china, the EU, Britain, NATO, North Korea and the world in general. This is where we need a LEADER and not just a blow hard.
We need a strategy that doesn't leave a vacuum for some radical terrorist group to fill and that seems to take forever. If John McCain's group can hurry that along it would be nothing short of a miracle. I support that miracle.