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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Responds to President's Speech on Afghanistan

December 1, 2009
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) released the following statement tonight after President Obama's speech on Afghanistan:

"I believe President Obama has appropriately devoted considerable time and given much thought to formulating a strategy for moving forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  President Bush took his focus off of Afghanistan early on and allowed U.S. policy there to drift for many years.  However, I am opposed to sending 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and I am not convinced that this so-called new strategy fully addresses the concerns that many Americans have about extending our military operations there.

"President Obama at least spoke of an exit strategy – something I have called for – announcing his hope that in July 2011 the U.S. would be able to start transferring power to Afghan security forces and begin to bring U.S. troops home, but he did not provide sufficient details on how we would achieve our goals and be able to withdraw from Afghanistan. 

"Likewise, the President's strategy incorporates civilian assistance programs and partnerships that my colleagues in the Congressional Progress Caucus favor, but we do not yet know if these programs will be adequately supported because the disproportionate emphasis on military efforts will continue.

"I cannot support a continued policy of waste and open-ended spending in Afghanistan, especially given the severe economic challenges we must confront within our own country.  For eight years, the United States has invested $220 billion dollars in Afghanistan.  Despite the amount of money and resources expended, the Taliban is stronger than ever, the Afghan government is corrupt, and the country has failed to achieve functioning democratic institutions and economic development.  President Obama's strategy will cost the United States $30 billion more per year to implement.  Moreover, I am not entirely convinced that our senior military officials will do a better job of tracking the spending and ensuring that our investment in Afghanistan does not lead to further waste, mismanagement, and careless outsourcing to private contractors whose connections we do not fully understand.  If this is the "new" strategy, then the billions of dollars the Administration plans to spend in Afghanistan would be better spent to help create jobs in the United States, respond more effectively to the ongoing foreclosure crisis and meet our other domestic needs."