Top House Republican Withdraws Support For U.S. War In Afghanistan

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL)

Republican chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Rep. C.W. Bill Young (FL) told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on Monday that he can no longer support the American war in Afghanistan:

“I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Young, R-Indian Shores, said during a meeting with the Times editorial board Monday. “I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.” … “It’s a real mess,” he said.

Young — the longest serving Republican in the House — said the death of a local Army Ranger in Afghanistan last month pushed him to change his mind. Young said the Ranger, Staff Sergeant Matthew S. Sitton, wrote him a letter before he died “and told me some things I found hard to believe”:

Young said he did not want to detail all of Sitton’s criticisms, but he listed two. In the letter, Sitton told Young about “being forced to go on patrol on foot through fields that they knew were mined with no explanation for why they were patrolling on foot,” the congressman said.

Sitton also explained that local streams and rivers were contaminated by pollution, creating a strong risk of bacterial and fungal infection, Young said. Yet when a flood soaked their uniforms, Young said, “they were required to continue patrols without changing their clothes.”

Young said Sitton predicted his own death, “and what he said would happen happened.” He stepped on an improvised explosive device and was killed, leaving behind his wife, Sarah, and their 9-month-old son, Brodey.

Americans’ support for the war in Afghanistan, including from Republicans, is at an all-time low. A recent poll found that 60 percent of Americans said the U.S. should not be involved there and a poll from May found that only 27 percent support the war. A majority of Republicans in a poll from April said the war has not been worth the effort.

While some House Republicans, such as Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), have been vocal in their opposition to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Young said many privately tell him they no longer support it. “[T}hey tend not to want to go public” about it, he said.