I’m posting reaction from Minnesota’s congressional delegation, etc. on President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (watch the speech here). I’m not sure who will provide statements, etc. (For what it’s worth, here’s what the members of the delegation said about Aghanistan in October.)
Statement from DFL Rep. Tim Walz:
“It is important that President Obama went through such a thorough decision-making process and talked with experts both within and outside of the Administration. His speech tonight gave us some good information about not just the troop increase, but also the mission, the plan for withdrawal and the resources necessary to finish the job.
“This speech is the first page in a new chapter on Afghanistan. I’m looking forward to the testimony of experts like General McChrystal and Secretaries Gates and Clinton before Congress as we carefully examine this new strategy. I’m also committed to continuing to engage the public on this topic and to having the Administration fill in additional details about our strategy. We as a nation need to better understand the total cost of continuing to wage war, and also the cost to our national security if we choose not to continue our efforts in Afghanistan. These are the kinds of things that I believe can be achieved by a national discussion on the topic, and I look forward to taking part in that discussion in the coming weeks and months.”
Statement from GOP Rep. John Kline:
As a 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps, I remain committed to ensuring our troops have the equipment, resources, and support they need to do their jobs in the most effective manner possible. Our goal in Afghanistan remains the same – a stable country that denies the Taliban and al-Qaeda a safe haven from which to launch attacks against Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the U.S. and its allies.
“In August, General McChrystal said we’re in danger of losing if we don’t provide our troops with the resources they need. I don’t want to send our sons and daughters – including my son, who is scheduled to return to Afghanistan early next year – into a situation we can’t win. Accordingly, I have deep concerns regarding whether the President is providing sufficient U.S. forces in order to achieve success in Afghanistan while building the Afghan National Security Forces to a level that can sustain security gains achieved by U.S. and NATO troops.
“I also am concerned about any discussion of an ‘exit strategy’ or ‘end game’ that would telegraph to the Taliban and al-Qaeda the timeline necessary to run out the ‘Washington clock.’ Additionally, announcing a timeline for withdrawal sends a clear message to the Afghan people and the world that we are not committed to their safety.
“If we are going to risk even one more American life in this battle, we must do so with a strategy that gives us the best opportunities for success. I continue to desire safety and security for our nation and victory in Afghanistan, and look forward to hearing testimony from Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and General McChrystal in the coming days and weeks.”
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Statement from DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar:
“This was President Obama’s most poignant and forceful speech to-date, he made a strong case intellectual case for expanding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, stating clearly what the augmented force will do. He also made a compelling emotional appeal for stepping up the fight based on the attacks of September 11th. By personally addressing the cadets of West Point and acknowledging the sacrifice they are willing to make on our behalf, the President Obama demonstrated that he is aware of the profound human cost of this ongoing military engagement.
I was impressed with the fact that he laid out a timetable for withdrawal, rather than basing it on conditions under which a drawdown would occur. The later hedges the issue, while a timetable makes a commitment to accomplish the mission without delay.
But he didn’t say how we will pay for it, and because of that I will have to reserve judgment until we see what specific requests he will make of Congress and what the true cost will be to the American people.
How does he propose to balance the expanded presence in Afghanistan against the desperate needs of our economy? Will an ongoing and expanded military presence in this region continue to be paid for as an off-budget, emergency expenditure, or will we identify how we will pay for it?
This is reminiscent of when President Lyndon Johnson said that we could pursue an expanded role in Viet Nam while maintaining a strong domestic economy. In the end the war in Viet Nam stifled the objectives of the Great Society. In pursuing both, we were not able to do either very well.
I have serious concerns about how we will proceed with a continued, and expanded, military presence in Afghanistan, while we move ahead with an effective domestic agenda that meets the needs of our nation during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Tonight, President Obama made a good start in addressing those concerns, but he has more work to do.”
Statement from DFL Sen. Al Franken:
Franni and I have been to the funerals of thirteen service members from Minnesota in the short time I’ve been in office. With so many troops from Minnesota already deployed, I have been following the Obama administration’s development of a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan very closely.
I am glad that the President has deliberated carefully and I will be closely examining the new strategy in the days and weeks ahead, starting with the testimony of Secretaries Gates and Clinton and Admiral Mullen this week. I go into that examination, quite frankly, skeptical about a strategy that involves a significant increase in the number of American troops. That is in no small part because I am deeply skeptical of the Afghan government.
I need to be convinced that we have reliable partners in both Pakistan and Afghanistan; that the mission as outlined is achievable; that we are not making an open-ended commitment; and that there is a sensible way to pay for the war.
Statement from GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen:
“I was pleased to hear from the President tonight about his plan for the way forward in Afghanistan. On this issue, partisanship needs to be put aside, as a stable and secure Afghanistan is important not only to our national security, but to security in the entire region. We cannot allow a resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban or increased instability in a nuclear-armed Pakistan.
While I support the President’s goal of success in Afghanistan, I look forward to hearing additional details from Secretary Gates, General McChrystal and leading diplomats in the coming days. Above all else, we must ensure that our troops have the full resources and unwavering support they need as we move forward.”
Statement from GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann:
“After several long months of deliberation, I’m pleased that the President has finally decided to follow the recommendation of our commanding officer in Afghanistan and deploy more troops to the country. As the President has said, the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity. However, I sincerely hope that the President is truly committed to victory. While it’s important to acknowledge that U.S. forces will not be in Afghanistan forever, we must not have a concrete time line for withdrawal as it will ultimately hurt our effort and energize our enemies. Clearly, it’s in the vital interests of the United States to defeat the Taliban, destroy Al Queda, and establish a free, sovereign Afghanistan that can govern and look after its own people. Anything less and we’re guaranteeing almost certain instability and chaos in the region. But going forward, we must be in it to win it because if we engage in this effort halfheartedly, then the war is already lost.”
Statement from DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar:
“Tonight, the President laid out a defined strategy and mission for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. However, I remain concerned about the ability of the Afghan government to rid itself of corruption, govern effectively, and act as a credible partner in the fight against the Taliban. I look forward to hearing from Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, General McChrystal, and other military and diplomatic officials in the coming weeks on how this strategy will prevent Afghanistan from serving as a base for terrorism, the specific resources that will be necessary to carry out this mission, and the additional costs that it will require. Our troops deserve nothing less.”
Statement from DFL Rep. Betty McCollum:
“Tonight, President Obama did exactly what he told the American people he would do during the campaign – make Afghanistan a priority. I support the President’s commitment of additional resources to secure Afghanistan because achieving stability in that region is vital to the security of American families. After eight years of neglect by the Bush Administration, our fighting men and women will finally have the resources they need and a full U.S. commitment to success,” Congresswoman McCollum said.
Last month, Congresswoman McCollum joined Appropriations Chairman David Obey as one of 10 original co-sponsors of the Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010 (H.R.4130), a bill to establish a temporary surtax to offset the costs of the Afghanistan war. About $300 billion has been spent on the conflict since 2001 and 68,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan.
McCollum said, “Achieving stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a national security priority that directly impacts the safety of our citizens. All additional funding necessary to achieve stability in this region should not be put on America’s credit card, but paid for today. In a time of economic crisis, borrowing billions of dollars from China to pay for war in Afghanistan actually undermines our national security. Shared sacrifice means not only committing to fight a war but also committing to pay for it.”