issues2000

Topics in the News: Afghanistan


Peter King on Foreign Policy : Sep 9, 2013
Drones fight clear and present danger on Pakistan border

Pakistan is of strategic importance to the US and is crucial to forwarding US security interests in the region. Areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are a haven for numerous extremist and terrorist groups and have been virtually run by Taliban and al-Qaeda. This situation presents a clear and present danger not only to Afghanistan and the region but the entire globe. However, drone strikes in Northwest Pakistan have been tremendously successful in decimating al Qaeda and its key leaders. I fully support the use of drones to eliminate dangerous terrorists.

Pakistan has been and continues to be a key country in the war against Islamic extremism. But Pakistan's actions in the last couple of years have raised questions about its commitment to US interests. The fact that Osama bin Laden was living for so long in Pakistan raises the most serious questions about Pakistan's good faith.

Click for Peter King on other issues.   Source: Congressional website, peteking.house.gov, "Issues"

Peter King on War & Peace : Sep 9, 2013
More to be done in Afghanistan; don't withdraw yet

In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, the US launched military operations in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime and to stop al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.

The core goal of the United States' mission in Afghanistan has been to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its return. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus much progress was made. Our troops have done an excellent job, but more remains to be done. An unstable Afghanistan will allow al-Qaeda to establish a sanctuary similar to the situation before 9/11. That is why I have opposed the President's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan too rapidly. While al Qaeda has largely been driven out, it is important that the U.S. maintain a presence in order to prevent another 9/11 type attack.

Click for Peter King on other issues.   Source: Congressional website, peteking.house.gov, "Issues"

John Bolton on War & Peace : Jul 13, 2013
Leaving Afghanistan is act of surrender in war on terror

Barack Obama's latest act of surrender in the war against terrorism comes in Afghanistan. Administration sources are leaking that Obama is considering withdrawing all American troops before Dec. 31, 2013, one year early, without leaving even a small, residual force in the country. Such a decision would simply accelerate an already badly misguided policy. Faster draw-downs in Afghanistan are bad enough but even worse is Obama's inability or unwillingness to see the inevitably broader adverse consequences.

According to polls, Americans are weary of the Afghan conflict, so Obama sees another chance to declare the war on terror over and also to score domestic political points. Americans are "war weary" about Afghanistan for specific reasons. As president, Obama has repeatedly insisted there was no rationale for a "war on terrorism" and that he will end the wars he inherited.

Click for John Bolton on other issues.   Source: AEI Scholars column: Staying in Afghanistan

Jeb Bush on War & Peace : Mar 11, 2013
OpEd: Not distancing himself from brother's Afghan policy

On 5 talk shows Sunday morning, Jeb Bush reminded America why he'll never be president: it's hard to distance yourself from your own last name. "I don't think there's any Bush baggage at all," Jeb said; adding that "history will be kind to George W. Bush."

To seriously challenge for the presidency, a Republican will have to pointedly distance himself from Jeb's older brother: acknowledging that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. No Republican will be able to promise foreign-policy competence unless he or she acknowledges the Bush administration's disastrous mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It won't be enough for a candidate merely to keep his or her distance from W: Romney tried that and failed. To seriously compete, the next Republican candidate for president will have to repudiate key aspects of Bush's legacy. Jeb Bush would find that excruciatingly hard even if he wanted to. And as his interviews Sunday make clear, he doesn't event want to try.

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Feb 12, 2013
Move into support role in Afghanistan; 34,000 troops home

We can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

Beyond 2014, America's commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2013 State of the Union Address

Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy : Jan 29, 2013
Afghan women are better off, but we must prevent reversal

Q: What about the women of Afghanistan? What can they expect as we leave?

A: They're going to have to be given support from their own government and people, as well as the international community.

Q: It's grim for them.

A: For a lot of [Afghan] women, life is much better [than before the US invasion]. Girls are in school who never were before. Women are able to practice their professions and pursue their businesses. So for an increasing group of Afghan women, life is better. Still, there are all kinds of discrimination and difficulties. But for a large group of rural women, life has not changed very much. And what I worry about is that the security situation will keep a total lid on the aspirations and education of the rural women and begin to intimidate and drive out of the public space women who have seen their lives improve. And I think it's incumbent upon us and all the nations that have been in Afghanistan to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren"

Mitt Romney on Foreign Policy : Oct 22, 2012
Condition aid to Pakistan on our benchmarks

Q: What about Afghanistan and Pakistan?

ROMNEY: Well, we're going to be finished by 2014. So our troops'll come home at that point.

Q: And Pakistan?

ROMNEY: Look at what's happening in Pakistan--Pakistan is going to have a major impact on the success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to the region, to the world and to us, because Pakistan has 100 nuclear warheads, and they're rushing to build a lot more. A Pakistan that falls apart, becomes a failed state would be of extraordinary danger to Afghanistan and us.

Q: Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?

ROMNEY: No, it's not time to divorce a nation on earth that has 100 nuclear weapons. It's important for the nuclear weapons, it's important for the success of Afghanistan, because inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are Taliban, that they're going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go. And that's one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
We had forgotten why we went into Afghanistan

OBAMA: When I came into office, we were still bogged down in Iraq, and Afghanistan had been drifting for a decade. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on Afghanistan. And we are now in a position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place. Part of what had happened is we'd forgotten why we'd gone. We went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American deaths. And so we decimated al-Qaida's core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we're now in a position where we can transition out, because there's no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.

ROMNEY: Inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are Taliban, that they're going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
Paksitani Pashtuns will rush to Afghan Taliban when we leave

Q: Pakistan still provides safe haven for terrorists, yet we continue to give Pakistan billions of dollars. Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?

ROMNEY: No, it's not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred nuclear weapons. This is an important part of the world for us. Pakistan is technically an ally, and they're not acting very much like an ally right now, but we have some work to do. I don't blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And that upset them, but there was obviously a great deal of anger even before that. Pakistan is important for the success of Afghanistan, because inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are Taliban, that they're going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go. And that's one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Paul Ryan on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Make Afghan withdrawal succeed by providing resources

Q: Why not leave Afghanistan now?

RYAN: We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give al-Qaida a safe haven. We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition. And that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

BIDEN: We went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. [Ryan & Romney] say it's based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. We are leaving in 2014, period.

Q: What conditions could justify staying?

RYAN: We don't want to stay. We want to make sure that 2014 is successful.

Q: He says we're absolutely leaving in 2014. You're saying that's not an absolute.

RYAN: Do you know why we say that? Because we don't want to broadcast to our enemies, put a date on your calendar, wait us out and then come back.

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Out of Iraq as promised; out of Afghanistan soon

On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake--that he ended it--Governor Romney said we should have left 30,000 troops there.

With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said, #1, we should not set a date, and #2, with regard to 2014, it depends.

When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president, the first day in office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, 'my highest priority is to get bin Laden.' Prior to Pres. Obama being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked a question about how he would proceed. He said, 'I wouldn't move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.' He didn't understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield; it was about restoring America's heart.

And lastly, the president has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Out of Afghanistan in 2014, period

Q: We've degraded al-Qaida. So why not leave Afghanistan now?

RYAN: We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten. We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition. And that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

BIDEN: Let's keep our eye on the ball. The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We've decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose. And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It's their responsibility to take over their own security. That's why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we've agreed on a gradual drawdown so we're out of there in the year 2014. [Ryan & Romney] say it's based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. We are leaving in 2014, period.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Sep 6, 2012
End our longest war: out of Afghanistan in 2014

Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over.

A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech

Deval Patrick on War & Peace : Sep 4, 2012
Obama ended war in Iraq & is ending war in Afghanistan

We shape our own future. Let's start by standing up for President Barack Obama. This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended "don't ask, don't tell" so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight. The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told.
Click for Deval Patrick on other issues.   Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech

Paul Ryan on War & Peace : Aug 11, 2012
Don't let Afghanistan return to a terrorist training camp

Taliban strongholds have re-established themselves in Afghanistan. As a result, US, coalition & Afghan troops are in the midst of implement the President's new counterinsurgency strategy.

Last year, I visited with our forces and leaders in Afghanistan to receive a first-hand account of our efforts on the ground. I was impressed with the dedication and resolve of our troops. We can all be proud of their representation of our country while in harm's way. Getting the Afghan military and security forces equally organized, trained and equipped is the key to a achieving a stable Afghanistan. In addition, reconstruction efforts and reforming the national government will be vital to our longer term success.

Should we fail, the consequences will be severe. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are anxious to regroup and return Afghanistan to a terrorist training camp. If Afghanistan and Iraq return to being safe havens for terrorists, our way of life and lives will once again be under attack.

Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website, ryanforcongress.com, "Issues"

Paul Ryan on War & Peace : Aug 11, 2012
No artificial surrender dates in Iraq and Afghanistan

I will continue to support our troops on ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, without restricting our commanders on the ground with artificial surrender dates as the House Majority had previously sought to do. Rather than playing politics with the troops, I will continue working to provide our troops with the tools, equipment, and supplies they need to complete their mission and return home as soon as possible.
Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website, ryanforcongress.com, "Issues"

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : Aug 1, 2012
Afghan nation-building will fail; withdraw immediately

In Afghanistan, we accomplished the initial and justified mission of uprooting al Qaeda and those who attacked us on 9/11 in a matter of months, and should have brought our troops home years ago, rather than engaging in the doomed-to-fail and unjustified nation-building that continues today. Our troops in Afghanistan should be withdrawn immediately.
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.145-146

Ted Cruz on War & Peace : Jun 22, 2012
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan went on too long

Both candidates agreed that the U.S. should not commit to military action in Syria, and said that while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began for noble reasons, they went on too long. Only a bit of disagreement came when Dewhurst said the Obama administration pulled combat troops out of Iraq too soon and should have left some behind.
Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: San Francisco Chronicle on 2012 Texas Senate debates

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy : Jun 14, 2012
Engage with Iran; but combat Al Qaeda in Pakistan

One important influence upon the new administration's thinking was Lee Hamilton. Hamilton had served as a back-channel adviser to the Obama presidential campaign, both through his former aides and in private talks with Obama himself. The Obama aides who had previously worked for Hamilton felt the men shared a common worldview, a general sense of the limits of American power. Hamilton had long been a proponent of a policy of engagement with Iran. Separately, however, he had also favored intensive US military strikes into Pakistan to combat al-Qaeda. Both of these positions became key points on which Obama, as a candidate, had sought to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton. After Obama was elected president, these ideas on Iran and Pakistan eventually became among the most prominent and distinctive aspects of the new administration's foreign policy.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.150

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jun 14, 2012
Clinton-Gates combo won push for Afghan surge

Just as the Obama administration was beginning to hold meetings to decide [whether to send a troop surge to] Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal's report leaked out.

Robert Gates gradually came around to supporting the McChrystal request, and Hillary Clinton did, too. During that period, the two often sided with each other in administration debates; they were happy to show that the secretaries of state and defense could work smoothly together, unlike their immediate predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld with Colin Powell & Condi Rice. The Clinton-Gates combine helped to win over the president to sending more troops, despite the skepticism of other senior administration officials such as Biden; the president was not prepared to override the recommendations of the two departments primarily responsible for foreign affairs. Obama approved the deployment of 30,000 more American troops for Afghanistan, bringing the total to about 100,000, and also called on NATO allies to provide another 5,000 or more of their own.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.134-136

Marco Rubio on Families & Children : Apr 25, 2012
We need a long-term commitment to Afghanistan

Rubio said he believes foreign policy should be "non-partisan as much as possible." But for a war-weary country, further American involvement anywhere can be a contentious issue. The senator said part of the problem in Afghanistan is that the U.S. has not made a long-term commitment to the country, and some Afghans fear the prospects of cooperating with allied forces if Taliban were to rule again after the coalition leaves the country.
Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: MSNBC on Rubio's speech to Brookings Institution

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jan 24, 2012
Make sure Afghanistan is never again a source of attack

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From this position of strength, we've begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. 10,000 of our troops have come home. 23,000 more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 State of the Union speech

Jon Huntsman on War & Peace : Jan 7, 2012
Draw down to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan by 2013

Q: What is the earliest you think our 90,000 troops in Afghanistan should be brought home?

HUNTSMAN: We've been at the war on terror for 10 years now, we've been in Afghanistan. And I say we've got a lot to show for our efforts: The Taliban is no longer in power. We've run out al Qaeda, they're now in sanctuaries. We've had free elections. Osama bin Laden is no longer around. We have strengthened civil society. We've helped the military. We've helped the police. I believe it's time to come home. And I would say within the first year of my administration, which is to say the end of 2013, I would want to draw them down. I don't want to be nation building in Southwest Asia when this nation is in such need of repair. Afghanistan is not a counter insurgency. But we do have a counter-terror mission in Southwest Asia. And that would suppose leaving behind maybe 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering, for Special Forces rapid response capability and training.

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: WMUR 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Jan 7, 2012
Leave Afghanistan when generals on the ground say so

Q: [to Huntsman]: What is the earliest you think our 90,000 troops in Afghanistan should be brought home?

HUNTSMAN: The end of 2013.

ROMNEY: Well, we want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. The commanders are saying they think 2014 is a better date. If I'm president, I will inform myself based upon the experience of the people on the ground that are leading our effort there. I want to make sure that we hand off the responsibility to an Afghan security force that is capable of maintaining the sovereignty of their nation from the Taliban. I don't want to do something that would put in jeopardy the hard earned success which we've had there. And I would bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, of course, based upon my own experience there, informing myself of what's happening there and listening to the commanders on the ground.

HUNTSMAN: We also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn't get very good advice then.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: WMUR 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Dec 13, 2011
Withdraw US troops continuously from Afghanistan until 2014

Q: The horizon on Afghanistan is that that war does not end for America next year, but by the end of 2014. Is it possible it could end sooner?

BIDEN: It has the potential to be wound down. It`s in direct proportion to how wound up the Afghan military is, how good they are, how quickly they come online. And how much responsibility the Afghan Government is able to exert politically within Afghanistan. For example, the president said that we were going to withdraw "the surge," 33,000 forces by the end of this summer. And we`re not going to slow this down. This doesn`t mean that we`re going to wait until the last minute to say the other 60,000-some folks are going to come out at the end of 2014. We are going to continue to drawdown forces on a continuous basis, continuing to turn over responsibility to the Afghans, because at the end of the day, our objective is to as responsibly as we can withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Interview in MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show"

Rick Perry on Foreign Policy : Nov 22, 2011
FactCheck: Pakistan is our ally, according to Bush generals

Rick Perry said the US should not write a black check to Pakistan because they've shown they're not an ally. Michele Bachman responded that Perry was "naive"; that the US gets plenty from our alliance with Pakistan. Who's right?

A 2008 paper published by the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled "US-Pakistan Military Cooperation" was clear, calling Pakistan "one of America's most important military alliances." The CFR paper states that our relationship is often strained, such as by Pakistan's detonation of a nuclear weapon in 1998; but Pakistan has been our ally since 1947, and a strong military ally since 9/11. One of Pres. Bush's commanders, Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, called Pakistan "a great partner so far in the war on terror"; another, Adm. Mike Mullen, said "Pakistan and the United States remain steadfast allies, and Pakistan's military is fighting bravely against terrorism."

Clearly Rep. Bachmann was 100% correct and Gov. Perry was 100% mistaken.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: OnTheIssues FactCheck on 2011 CNN National Security debate

Rick Perry on Foreign Policy : Nov 22, 2011
End aid to Pakistan; money only goes to allies

Q: Gov. Perry has said that Pakistan should no longer receive US aid because they've shown they're not an ally?

BACHMANN: There are al-Qaeda training grounds there. At the same time, they do share intelligence data with us regarding Al Qaida.

PERRY: The bottom line is that they've showed us time after time that they can't be trusted. And until Pakistan clearly shows that they have America's best interests in mind, I would not send them one penny, period. I think it is important for us to send the message to those across the world that, if you are not going to be an ally of the US, do not expect a dime of our citizens' money to be coming into your country. That is the way we change foreign policy. Now, if we want to engage these countries with our abilities and our companies that go in, rather than just writing a blank check to them, then we can have that conversation. But to write a check to countries that are clearly not representing American interests is nonsensical.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate

Rick Perry on War & Peace : Nov 12, 2011
Complete the mission in Afghanistan, with no timetable

Q: What's your appraisal of the combat situation in Afghanistan today?

Perry: The mission must be completed there. The idea that we will have wasted our treasure and the lives of young Americans to not secure Afghanistan is not appropriate. But the idea that we would give a timetable to our enemy is irresponsible from a military standpoint, it's irresponsible from the lives of our young men and women. And it is irresponsible leadership of this president to give a timetable to pull out of any country that we're in conflict with.

Q: What's your appraisal of the combat situation?

Perry: I think we're making progress there. The issue is training up the Afghan security forces so that we're comfortable that they can protect that citizenry and continue to take the war to the terrorists that are using Afghanistan--and Pakistan, I might add. Our military is doing the best job that they can, considering this administration is telegraphing to the enemy when we're going to pull out.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 debate in South Carolina on Foreign Policy

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2011
Afghan war: moral imperative against determined enemy

He spoke about combat with a new conviction. He described the war in the exact terms he once asked his speechwriters to avoid: It was a moral imperative--a glorious endeavor to be celebrated. "If I thought for a minute that America's vital interests were not served, were not at stake here in Afghanistan, I would order you all home right now. "There's going to be setbacks. We face a determined enemy. But we also know this: America does not quit once it starts something. You don't quit.

"Al Qaeda and the violent extremists who you're fighting against want to destroy. But all of you want to build, and that is something essential about America. They're got no respect for human life. You see dignity in every human being. They want to drive races and regions and religions apart. You want to bring people together and see the world move forward together. They offer fear. You offer hope."

By the time Obama finished his 20-minute speech, the troops' polite applause had turned to stomps and whistles.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p. 70-71

Rick Perry on Foreign Policy : Sep 22, 2011
F-16s to India; they are our allies, not Pakistan

Q: If you were president, and you go a call at 3AM telling you that Pakistan had lost control of its nuclear weapons, at the hands of the Taliban, what would be your first move?

PERRY: Well obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That's one of the things that this administration has not done. Yesterday, we found out that Haqqani--the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country--has been involved with [terrorism. We need] to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the US. For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16's, we chose not to do that. We did the same with Taiwan. The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them. Today, we don't have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL

Newt Gingrich on Homeland Security : Sep 22, 2011
Real danger of Iran getting nukes from Pakistan

Q: [to Santorum] What would happen in the case of a Pakistani coup, with regards to Iran getting Pakistan's nuclear weapons?

SANTORUM: We should be establishing relationships in Pakistan with allies of ours, folks like Pres. Musharraf, so we could work to make sure that that coup could be overturned and make sure those nuclear weapon do not fall in those hands. But working with allies at that point is the last thing we want to do. We want to work in that country to make sure the problem is defused.

GINGRICH: I think people need to understand how real this is. This world is in danger of becoming dramatically more dangerous in the not-too-distant future. People talk about an Iranian weapon? There may be well over 100 nuclear weapons in Pakistan. And the example you used is not too far-fetched to worry about.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL

Jon Huntsman on War & Peace : Sep 22, 2011
After 10 years, Americans are ready to exit Afghanistan

Q: [to Santorum]: If the security situation were to fall apart in Iraq in 2012 would you support sending US troops back to the region?

SANTORUM: I'm not for taking them out of the region. We want victory.

HUNTSMAN: The world is a better place when th US is strong. So guiding anything that we talk about from a foreign policy standpoint needs to be fixing our core. But, second of all, I believe that, you know, after 10 years of fighting the war on terror, people are ready to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. This country has given its all. What remains behind, some element to collect intelligence, special forces capability, and we're going to have to do that in every corner of the world. But we need to fix this core and get serious about what the rest of the 21st century holds for this country.

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL

Rick Perry on War & Peace : Sep 12, 2011
Transition out of Afghanistan but keep non-military presence

Q: Is $2 billion a week money well spent by US taxpayers in Afghanistan?

HUNTSMAN: We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nation-building at a time when this nation needs to be built. The time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan.

PERRY: I agree with Gov. Huntsman when we talk about it's time to bring our young men and women home and as soon and obviously as safely as we can. But it's also really important for us to continue to have a presence there. And I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don't think so at this particular point in time. I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country's military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it's schools or otherwise.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL

Jon Huntsman on War & Peace : Sep 12, 2011
Time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan

Q: How do we protect the women and children of Afghanistan from the radicals?

HUNTSMAN: We are 10 years into this war. America has given its all in Afghanistan. We have families who have given the ultimate sacrifice. And it's to them that we offer our heartfelt salute. But the time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan. We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nation-building at a time when this nation needs to be built. We are of no value to the rest of the world if our core is crumbling, whic it is in this country. I like those days when Ronald Reagan said that the light of this country would shine brightly for liberty, democracy, human rights, and free markets. We're not shining like we used to shine. We need to shine again. And when we star shining again, it's going to help the women of Afghanistan, along with any other NGO work. We can get it done, but we have to make sure that the Afghan people increasingly take responsibility for their security going forward.

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL

Jon Huntsman on War & Peace : Sep 7, 2011
Bring troops home from Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the reality is it is an asymmetrical counterterror effort. We need intelligence. We need special forces. And we need some training on the ground. But I think one way to commemorate our 10-year anniversary of 9/11, remembering the 3,000-plus people who died in New York and in Pennsylvania and in Washington, is to say it's time for this country to set a goal for ourselves: We're going to get our core fixed. We're going to do some nation-building right here at home.
Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : Aug 21, 2011
No military threat from Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Libya

Q: You write that "maintaining a strong national defense is the most basic of the federal government's responsibilities. However, building schools, roads, and hospitals in other countries are not among those basic obligations. Yet that is exactly what we have been doing for much of the past 10 years." Do you oppose current US military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya and, if so, on what moral grounds?

A: I do. In all three cases, I don't see a military threat. I initially thought the intervention in Afghanistan was warranted--we were attacked and we attacked back--but we've wiped out Al Qaeda and here we are; we're still there.

Q: Isn't there evidence that we merely drove Al Qaeda from Afghanistan into Pakistan?

A: Sure.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Aug 11, 2011
We should withdraw from Afghanistan after 2012

Q: In June 2009 you said America should "nurture democracy and human rights all over the world," and that made America, "the hope of the earth." Yet last debate about Afghanistan you said, "we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try to fight war of independence for another nation." Have your views changed?

A: No, I have the same view. We have helped the people of Afghanistan establish freedom from the Taliban. But now we are at a point where they are going to have to earn and keep that freedom themselves. This is not something we are going to do forever. We've been there 10 years. We've been training the Afghan troops. It's time for the troops of Afghanistan to take on that responsibility according to the time table established by the generals in the field. And those generals recommended to President Obama that we should not start drawing our troops down until after the fighting season in 2012. He took a political decision to draw them down faster than that. That is wrong.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa

Jon Huntsman on War & Peace : Jun 15, 2011
Playing Afghan traffic cop doesn't serve strategic interest

Huntsman has begun to distinguish himself in a crowded field by becoming the first to call for a rapid withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan. "If you can't define a winning exit strategy for the American people, where we somehow come out ahead, then we're wasting our money, and we're wasting our strategic resources," Huntsman told Esquire as part of a long profile in its August issue. "It's a tribal state, and it always will be. Whether we like it or not, whenever we withdraw from Afghanistan, whether it's now or years from now, we'll have an incendiary situation. Should we stay and play traffic cop? I don't think that serves our strategic interests."

Huntsman also told Esquire that he plans on running a campaign built in part on the parallel platforms of debt reduction and ending the war in Afghanistan.

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: Chris Jones in Esquire magazine

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : Jun 15, 2011
We wiped out al Qaeda 10 years ago; leave Afghanistan

Q: Why are you running for president?

A: I would get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow. Six months after we engaged in Afghanistan we'd wiped out al-Qaeda effectively--that was 10 years ago. Now we're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals--we have those needs here in this country.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine

Mitt Romney on War & Peace : Jun 13, 2011
Stay in Afghanistan until our generals say to leave

Q: Osama bin Laden is dead. We've been in Afghanistan for ten years. Isn't it time to bring our combat troops home from Afghanistan?

ROMNEY: It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over to the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban. I think we've learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals. But I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban.

Q: Congressman Paul, do you agree with that decision?

PAUL: Not quite. I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : May 27, 2011
Afghan War initially warranted, but not for 10 years

Q: You don't think we belong in Afghanistan?

A: Well, initially, Afghanistan was totally warranted. We were attacked. We attacked back. That's what our military is for. We should remain vigilant to the terrorist threat. But after being in Afghanistan for six months I think we effectively wiped out al Qaeda. And here it is, we are there 10 years later. We're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals and borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary"

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : May 5, 2011
No Afghan timetable; start tomorrow & finish in a few months

Q: You have said you are an advocate of getting out of Afghanistan tomorrow. You've also said that you'd support a democratic plan to establish a timetable with an end date for withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan. Are you worried at all about providing a specific end date and that possibly would enable the Taliban to move in the day after the US troops left?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I'm not in favor of a timetable. I believe that that timetable should be tomorrow and I realize that tomorrow may involve several months. I was opposed to us going into Iraq from the beginning. Afghanistan originally, I was completely supportive of that, we were attacked, we attacked back, that's what our military is for and after six months, I think we pretty effectively taken care of Al Qaeda.

But that was 10 years ago, we're building roads, schools, bridges and highways in Iraq and Afghanistan and we're borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that. In my opinion, this is crazy.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina

Gary Johnson on War & Peace : May 2, 2011
Eliminate ineffective interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan

This recession has forced families and businesses across America to make hard choices and limit their expenditures. We must now expect our elected officials to make the tough calls that will keep our government on a sustainable path moving forward. We must restrain spending across the board:
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com, "Issues"

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Apr 4, 2011
While we fight "war on drugs", Afghans do our drug business

The WikiLeaks cache of State Dept. cables contains quite a few about our war in Afghanistan, but none more revealing than what our diplomats really know about the country's president, Hamid Karzai. One secret cable talks about how he'd released 150 of the 629 detainees that the coalition had transferred to Afghan custody since 2007--and pardoned five border police who were caught with 273 pounds of heroin in their vehicle and already been sentenced to prison. Karzai's brother is portrayed as a corrupt drug baron.

It's time we faced facts: fighting the Taliban over there is at the same time propping up the biggest drug-based regime in the world.

The World Bank issued a report in 2006 on "Afghanistan's Opium Economy." Isn't it interesting that we're fighting a "war on drugs," yet over there we have no problem with this? Certainly those drugs are going to get here eventually, again just follow the money. But obviously the Afghans involved can buy protection and continue their business.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: 63 Documents, by Gov. Jesse Ventura, p.288-292

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jan 26, 2011
We've taken the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, until July

As we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we're disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies.

We've also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. Our purpose is clear: By preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2011 State of the Union speech

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
2008: Afghanistan is forgotten war, & Pakistan is neglected

Biden, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late February 2008, he flew to Afghanistan, India, Turkey and Pakistan on a fact-finding tour. Afterward, Biden labeled Afghanistan "the forgotten war" and Pakistan "the neglected frontier," calling for a fresh look at the former and more economic aid for the latter. Afghanistan, he said, was "slipping toward failure because it has never been given a priority" as the war in Iraq dragged on.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.405

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
Not necessary to defeat Taliban; it's part of Afghan society

    I wrote to the president, a long, 20-page handwritten memo focused on making the case:
  1. that this is a 3-dimensional problem--al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan;
  2. that there be a limit on the number of troops so that this wouldn't be a constant, creeping escalation whatever troop level was announced;
  3. that there be a date at which we would begin the drawdown of American forces with the aim of drawing down all combat forces out, a la Iraq;
  4. that it was not necessary to defeat the Taliban because the Taliban was and is part of the fabric of the Pashtun society--20% to 30% of it is incorrigible and must be defeated, and the remainder should be integrated into Afghan society;
  5. that the return of the ability of the Taliban to overthrow the Afghan government was simply not within their power;
  6. that the Taliban was not seeking to establish a new caliphate, they were not an existential threat to the USA,
  7. that al-Qaeda's return to Afghanistan was highly unlikely.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.463

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
2002: Iraq pivots from unfinished business in Afghanistan

In 2002, Biden flew to Afghanistan, as mopping-up operations continued. What Biden heard from all quarters were pleas for more of everything--money, troops, security--and a commitment for the US presence to remain, at least until circumstances greatly improved.

Biden returned conveying a plea for urgent help, and Powell joined it, but while Bush "was agreeable and willing to listen, he was also noncommittal," Biden wrote later. Though Bush talked of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, he had other ideas, and was already giving Cheney and Rumsfeld "the force and resources they requested for a new target"--Iraq.

By now it was becoming increasingly clear to Biden that a critical pivot was under way from the unfinished business in Afghanistan to the neoconservatives' vision of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, starting with deposing Saddam Hussein.

Biden and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel introduced a bill providing more money for Afghanistan, but the administration opposed it.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.340-342

  • Additional quotations related to Afghanistan issues can be found under War & Peace.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on War & Peace.
Candidates on War & Peace:
Incumbents:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
Secy.John Kerry
Secy.Chuck Hagel

 Related issues:
American Exceptionalism
Arab Spring
Armed Forces Personnel
Gays in Military
Iranian Nukes
Iraq
Israel & Palestine
North Korea
Nuclear Energy & Weapons
SDI Missile Defense
Syria
Veterans
War on Terror
WMD

2016 Presidential contenders:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Amb.John Bolton(R-MD)
Gov.Jeb Bush(R-FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(T-MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(R-NJ)
Secy.Hillary Clinton(D-NY)
Sen.Ted Cruz(T-TX)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(D-NY)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(D-IL)
Gov.Bobby Jindal(R-LA)
Gov.Nikk Haley(R-SC)
Rep.Peter King(R-NY)
Gov.Martin O`Malley(D-MD)
Gov.Deval Patrick(D-MA)
Sen.Rand Paul(R-KY)
Sen.Rob Portman(R-OH)
Sen.Marco Rubio(R-FL)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
2012 Presidential:
Rep.Michele Bachmann(T-MN)
Rep.Newt Gingrich(R-GA)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(R-AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(R-UT)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Gov.Sarah Palin(R-AK)
Rep.Ron Paul(R-TX)
Gov.Rick Perry(R-TX)
Gov.Mitt Romney(R-MA)
Rep.Paul Ryan(R-WI)
Sen.Rick Santorum(R-PA)
Donald Trump(I-NY)
Please consider volunteering for OnTheIssues!
Click for details -- or send donations to:
1770 Mass Ave. #630, Cambridge MA 02140
E-mail: submit@OnTheIssues.org
(We rely on your support!)

Page last updated: Mar 06, 2014