Congressmen call for end to Afghan war
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Sep 20, 2012 17:17:51 EDT
A bipartisan group of lawmakers called anew Thursday for the end of the Afghanistan war, citing the recent rash of incidents in which U.S. forces have been killed by Afghan troops as evidence that the war has no hope of succeeding.
The comments came at a news conference organized by Rep. Walter Jones, R.-N.C. The congressmen, whose district includes Camp Lejeune, N.C., questioned why, after 11 years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, the Afghan army still isn’t ready to operate without coalition support.
“You can train a monkey to ride a bicycle in that length of time,” he said sarcastically, underscoring his exasperation with the war.
He added that it makes no sense to continue spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan each year, in light of both the number of service members who die there and the lack of a coherent plan going forward.
“When our friends turn out to be our enemies, it’s time to pull the plug,” Jones said, referring to the so-called “green-on-blue” killings.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the war has become a forgotten issue, and is rarely mentioned by President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. W. Mitt Romney ahead of this fall’s presidential election.
“This is becoming old hat,” McGovern said. “We gather every few weeks and have the same discussion, but no one [else] talks about it.”
Also appearing at the news conference was retired Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, who served as the U.S.’s special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction from 2008 to 2011, overseeing the billions of dollars per year the U.S. spends on humanitarian assistance and development projects in Afghanistan. He resigned under congressional pressure after audits questioned his office’s focus and effectiveness, but was praised by the White House at the time for his courage, leadership and service.
Fields said he made a private trip to Afghanistan recently, and was told repeatedly that despite the country’s reputation for corruption, the majority of officials there are concerned about the U.S. leaving and the Afghan government’s shady business deals. Nevertheless, the future in Afghanistan must be examined, he said.
“Is there a remedy?” he asked. “I look to the Congress and I look to the people to see if we can find that remedy.”
Douglas Wissing, the author of “Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban,” pushed even further, saying that “everything about our involvement in Afghanistan is wrong.” While researching the book, he found that, because of the country’s culture of corruption, development money the U.S. sends to Afghanistan goes directly into the hands of some Taliban commanders, who serve as sub-contractors to Afghan companies providing security in the region.
Wissing acknowledged there could be a power vacuum if the U.S. withdraws forces from Afghanistan quickly, but said it’s important to weigh that against whether any progress made can be lasting. The U.S. now spends $4.1 billion a year to prop up the Afghan National Security Forces, he said, “and I don’t think hear anyone who says that is sustainable, economically or politically.’
Also speaking a the news conference were Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; and Ron Paul, R-Texas.http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/09/marine-afghanistan-war-walter-jones-congress-092012/