Yesterday during an interview with ThinkProgress, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) predicted that calls for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan will increase in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. “I think that takes a lot of the pressure away — a lot of the punch away from the argument that ‘oh, it will look like we walked away,’” he said.
And it appears that sentiment is spreading across the aisle. Today at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) — who has been a growing skeptic of the war in Afghanistan — offered four observations of the war there and based on those observations, concluded that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan doesn’t appear to be “rational”:
LUGAR: First, we are spending enormous resources in a single country. … Second, although threats to the United States national security do emanate from within Afghanistan’s borders, these may not be the most serious threats in the region and Afghanistan may not be the most likely source of a major terrorist attack. … [W]e should know by now that such grand nation-building ambitions in Afghanistan are beyond our powers. … Fourth, although alliance help in Afghanistan is significant and appreciated, the heaviest burden will continue to fall on the United States. [...]
If one accepts these four observations, it’s exceedingly difficult to conclude that our vast expenditures in Afghanistan represent a rational allocation of our military and financial assets.
Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai threw a wrench into one of the original justifications for the U.S. military to be in Afganistan. “Osama was not in Afghanistan: they found him in Pakistan,” Mr. Karzai said. “The war on terror is not in Afghan villages…but in the safe havens of terrorism outside Afghanistan.” And while opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah said that NATO forces should stay in Afghanistan, he agreed with Karzai’s sentiment. “Killing of Osama bin Laden is pleasant news for Afghans, and now it’s proven that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are not based in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a haven for them,” he said.
The United States has spent more than $400 billion fighting the war in Afghanistan and more than 1,500 U.S. troops have died. And while the top U.S. commander there Gen. David Petraeus said recently that NATO forces have made gains, stories about Afghan security forces killing Americans and hundreds of insurgents escaping prison through a tunnel dug by the Taliban are not encouraging. (HT: George Zornick)
The National Journal has a run-down of lawmakers expressing their desire to wind down the war in Afghanistan.