War in Afghanistan

President Obama announced  in a Tuesday night address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.,  that he is sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.  “I agree with President Obama that it would be a setback for democracy and stability, not just for Afghanistan and Pakistan but the whole region, if the Taliban regained power.  Despite the strong arguments the president put forward,  I have serious concerns,” Senator Bernie Sanders said.

“First, I worry that this will become – and will be seen by the world –  as an American war.  Stability in a region where Pakistan is armed with nuclear weapons is not just an American issue: it is an international issue.  I am deeply concerned that Russia, China, the nations of Europe and Asia believe that they do not have to accept any real responsibility for the threat that a Taliban resurgence presents.  Pakistan is a nuclear nation; the terrorism fomented by al-Qaida is a threat to many countries: yet America is somehow supposed to carry the load.   I worry that the American taxpayer and our courageous and already over-extended military will have to bear the burden the international community should be shouldering.  With this troop expansion, over 70 percent of all foreign troops in Afghanistan will be Americans.  Further, this expansion will bring the yearly cost for the American taxpayer to over $100 billion, and that is not counting the continuing cost of Iraq.  

“Second, in the midst of the most severe recession since the 1930s and with a $12 trillion national debt, we have problems here at home that urgently need to be addressed.  One-quarter of our nation’s children are now on food stamps, 17 percent of American workers are unemployed or underemployed, our infrastructure is collapsing and, in many states, funding for education, health resources and public services are being cut back.  While I believe that the United States and other major countries should provide support for the impoverished people of Afghanistan, I believe our main concern has to be on the needs of the American people.      

“Third, everyone understands that this war cannot be won unless the Afghan people and their military take responsibility for their own future.  Unfortunately it is clear to me, and to most of the world, that the Afghan people see their own government as deeply ineffective and even more deeply corrupt.  How can we forge a partnership when we don’t have a legitimate partner there?  Yet we are moving forward as if a partnership is not just possible, but will happen almost overnight.  I very much fear we may get caught in a situation from which there will be no successful exit.