President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan. What do you think of President Obama’s handling of the Afghanistan War and this agreement?
There is one common consensus on the Afghanistan War: our nation wants to see an end and our troops brought home. After more than a decade of war, I also believe that we need to do this as soon as possible, and President Barack Obama’s visit to Afghanistan last week was a critical step in that direction.
The signing of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement is a necessary step forward in bringing our troops home, and placing the responsibility for Afghan security on the Afghan people. Ultimately the future of Afghanistan must be determined by the people of Afghanistan and not by a U.S. military presence.
Our nation was deeply shocked by the attacks of Sept. 11 in New York, as was the rest of the world. In the aftermath of that terrible day, the international community rallied around our nation in condemnation of those responsible. These nations also joined us in targeting the epicenter of where the plot was planned in Afghanistan. This was the goal, and it was centered on weakening al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden.
One year ago, Osama bin Laden was killed. His terrorist network has been weakened, and al Qaeda’s influence in Afghanistan has been deeply diminished.
President Obama inherited this war, but I applaud him for sticking to his promise to prioritize the capture of bin Laden and bringing our troops home. His trip to Afghanistan was a welcome reminder of his efforts to fulfill this promise.
But as this U.S.-Afghan agreement brings this war closer to an end, we cannot hide from the fact that our nation has been tested through more than ten years of war. I have not been shy in expressing my steadfast opposition to an extended military presence in Afghanistan. This prolonged war is now the longest in our nation’s history. Active military fighting has taken a heavy toll on our brave men and women in uniform and their families. As a result, patience has run thin, and calls for a faster military pull-out have grown louder.
While I understand the need to end this war in a responsible way, I also sympathize with the families that have been affected by this war. And I understand the need to support the service members that are coming home. I have made this a priority in my work in Congress.
I am also struck by the lessons we have failed to learn. We cannot achieve long-term peace and stability through military strength. Our military is one of the best in the world, and that is due, in no short part, to the dedicated generations of brave service members that have fought to protect our nation. But many of these brave Americans have had to pay a heavy price. Our nation has lost too many lives and seen too many families torn apart by war to continue down the same path with limited success.
Long-term security will require that we look past guns and bombs, and toward strategies that uplift communities from poverty and integrate them into the world economy. Winning hearts and minds is done by providing a helping hand. Going down this road is not only the surest way toward peace, but it also the most cost effective.
After more than 10 years of war we have an obligation to stop and reexamine our nation’s foreign policy. We also have a responsibility to learn from past mistakes that have cost our country many American lives.
I applaud President Obama for his efforts to end military operations in Afghanistan, but until all of our troops are home I will continue to stress the urgency in getting this done as soon as possible.