Dennis Kucinich sponsored a resolution to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan immediately.  According to Kucinich’s website, Walter Jones has signed on as a Co-Sponsor.

As stated in an earlier post, Jones opposes the troop surge and stood with several Democrats to voice his opposition in a recent press conference.

In response to concerns expressed by one of his constituents , Walter Jones defends his position on Afghanistan in the following letter:

December 14, 2009

From: Congressman Walter Jones

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to update you with my thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan, and on President Barak Obama’s most recent proposal to send additional U.S. troops to that country.
As you know, I voted to authorize the use of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in order to rid that nation of Al-Qaeda training camps, and to remove from power those elements that gave shelter to those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.   I believed, and do believe, that the United States has vital national interests in that part of the world, and there are those who operate there that wish to do our country harm. Furthermore, our troops serving in Afghanistan are doing so with honor and courage.

In the early days of our involvement in Afghanistan, over eight years ago, the United States routed the Taliban with only a few thousand U.S. personnel on the ground.  We did so by working with and through tribal structures that have existed in Afghanistan for centuries.  The so-called “Northern Alliance” – with U.S. air support, financing, and supplies – quickly achieved victory.

However, soon thereafter, our own State Department and Department of Defense shifted strategies away from that tribal-centric approach and instead chose to work through the central government of President Hamid Karzai.  This is the approach adopted by Barack Obama.  Unfortunately, Afghanis that are loyal to, and willing to fight and die for, their tribal leaders have been less than enthusiastic about Mr. Karzai.

Since late 2001, continuing through the end of the Bush Administration, more and more U.S. ground troops, contractors, and troops from NATO allies have been stationed in Afghanistan in support of that Karzai-based strategy.   We turned our back on the alliances that produced success, so despite the higher foreign troop level, the Taliban has been gaining strength.

Barack Obama has “doubled down” on this same strategy.  Since coming to office he has already sent 24,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan in support of the Karzai government, and now he is proposing to send even more – an additional 30,000 troops through July 2011.

General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the North American Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, is a seasoned commander for whom I have great respect.  But I fear that he is a military commander being asked to implement President Obama’s badly flawed strategy of working through Karzai rather than through long-existing tribal and clan structures.

That is why I believe we need a serious national debate on our nation’s Afghanistan policy, and why I have joined a number of my colleagues – some conservative, some moderate, some liberal – in calling for such a debate in Congress.  There are many ideas about what is in our nation’s best interest going forward, and they need to be aired.

Some, like Admiral Mike Mullen, want our troops to now combat Afghanistan’s “culture of poverty”.  Others, like conservative columnist George Will, believe “America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters”.

My colleague, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California – a former speech writer for President Ronald Reagan and one of the Ranking Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs committee – believes something in the middle.  Namely, that the best strategy for success in Afghanistan is to go back to the approach that first defeated the Taliban in the early days of the war.  I agree with Dana.

Dana believes (as I do) that 30,000 more U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan will not make us safer if they are there to support a strategy centered around the central government in Kabul.  Sending more American combat troops into Afghanistan just means more of those troops will be doing more of the fighting instead of the Afghans themselves, who are more than willing to defend themselves as long as they are given the resources to do so.  Strengthening the military arm of the corrupt central government in Kabul is a failed strategy, and we should be decentralizing power in a way that is consistent with Afghan tradition and empowering tribal leaders.

What is undeniable is that our forces in Afghanistan are not being directed to eradicate the poppy crop in that country, which would help deal with the problem of drugs on American streets.  What is undeniable is that the money we are borrowing from foreign countries like China in order to finance this fight to stabilize the government of President Hamid Karzai – whose Vice Presidential running mate in the recent disputed election was an ex-warlord who is widely accused of giving cover to Afghan criminal gangs and drug traffickers.  What is undeniable is that the Karzai government was described by Economist magazine as so “inept, corrupt and predatory” that people sometimes yearn for restoration of the warlords, “who were less venal and less brutal than Mr. Karzai’s lot.”

What is also undeniable is that the United States is projected to run trillion dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see, adding to what is already a record $12 trillion in U.S. federal public debt.  The money being spent “fighting the culture of poverty in Afghanistan’” (and therefore not being spent on roads, and schools, and jobs here in America) is being borrowed from our international competitors like communist China.

What started out as U.S. involvement in one type of mission has clearly become U.S. involvement in another type of mission altogether.   After spending eight years of American blood and treasure, Mr. Obama’s policy in Afghanistan has drifted into an ill-defined strategy of ‘doubling down’ to protect the status quo, with no end in sight.

The war in Afghanistan has now gone on longer than U.S. involvement in World War I and World War II combined.  President Obama wants us to borrow yet more money from communist China to send additional troops to reinforce an overall policy that he has yet to adequately articulate, much less gain support for.

I do not believe we are faced with the false choice between President Obama’s “doubling down” on our current Afghanistan strategy or pulling out completely.  America has a range of robust policy options that can protect America’s interests in that part of the world, minimize American casualties, and which would do far less to hasten the bankruptcy of the U.S. Federal Treasury than would rubber stamping President Obama’s blank Afghanistan check.

Sincerely,

Walter

The previous post on Jones had a poll asking if you supported Jones’ position.  In light of these actions, do you still support Congressman Jones’ position?

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