I responded to this letter from Congresswoman Moore, justifying her yes vote for an $84 billion dollar military supplemental bill for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in my Diary of a Worm post of 11 June, 2009, at Dung or Words.

June 11, 2009

Dear Mr. Graf,

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about the FY 2009 supplemental funding bill. I appreciate hearing from you and wanted to respond to your concerns.

For much of the last few years, a number of my colleagues have argued that while the previous Administration was occupying Iraq, it was losing focus on the place where not only the 9/11 attacks were planned and coordinated from but where a growing number of intelligence reports were warning of a resurgence in the ability of Al-Qaida to plan future attacks against our country and Afghanistan.

While I have been strident in my opposition to the war in Iraq and have opposed supplemental funding bills for the past four years in the face of a President who refused to recognize the end that ill-advised war, I am glad we now have a President committed to withdrawing our troops on a timetable. Additionally, while I have been quite vocal in my opposition to the war in Iraq including at the rallies you mentioned, I have not necessarily opposed or expressed opposition to the need for the military in Afghanistan .

One of the casualties of the war in Iraq has been our efforts in Afghanistan where the 9/11 attacks were conceived and where the top leadership of Al-Qaida found and maintained a safe haven. Over the last seven years, our efforts in Afghanistan have been undermanned and under- resourced -both on the civilian and military sides-and that has helped contribute to a rising threat from Al Qaida and the Taliban that threatens the region and the international community.

My vote on the FY 2009 supplemental was about Afghanistan . It is clear that military might alone in Afghanistan is not the answer. However, a number of experts have also made clear that development aid alone also will not work to bring stability in the absence of some basic level of security, especially in the face of a growing insurgency. A comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan must combine military efforts to combat terrorism with nonmilitary efforts to rebuild the country, provide jobs, increase access to education and healthcare, and promote economic development and diplomacy.

Since taking office in January, President Obama has outlined a timetable for reducing U.S. involvement in Iraq as well as unveiled a comprehensive strategy for the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan that would make use of the full array of U.S. and international military, economic, and diplomatic, and development tools to fight the threat from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. While I and others would like to see a swifter timeline for removing our troops from Iraq , nonetheless these efforts should be welcomed.

A key part of the new strategy for Afghanistan includes renewed nonmilitary development and economic aid to both Afghanistan and Pakistan . It also calls for more support for the training of security forces in both nations as well as for a renewed focus on regional and international diplomatic and developmental efforts.

My vote for the recent supplemental was a decision I took with a heavy heart and after much deliberation. I err on the side of peace. I never look forward to sending more of our brave young soldiers to the battlefield or for war. Yet, it is unfortunately clear to me that military forces must continue to be a part of our effort in Afghanistan to help protect innocent Afghan civilians.

I also note that the supplemental remains the most immediate avenue available at this point to secure the $7 billion in foreign aid requested by the President to support economic and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan , Pakistan , and elsewhere. In fact, the bill that came before the House increased that request by $3 billion.

Afghanistan would receive $5.1 billion under the bill. This would include $3.6 billion to train Afghan security forces and police; $980 million for economic development and expanding the rule of law and combating corruption; and $536 million for increased U.S. civilian and diplomatic staff -all key parts of the new strategy for the region which will hopefully pave the way for the Afghan government to take the lead in securing its territory and meeting the needs of its people.

The House bill would also provide almost $2 billion in nonmilitary aid for Pakistan, to boost State Department and civilian staffing, to strengthen governance and economic development efforts.

The supplemental was far from perfect. For example, it lacked an exit strategy. I am an original cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 2404) by Congressman James McGovern that asks the Secretary of Defense to provide Congress with a plan for an exit strategy for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by the end of the year. I look forward to helping move it through the House as soon as possible.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan where the leaders of the September 11th attacks have taken refuge in the lawless border areas, the threat from Taliban and Al-Qaida is growing according to all accounts. As some of my colleagues have noted, preventing a failed state in Afghanistan is going to require a complex combination of political, diplomatic, development assistance and military actions. Afghanistan ‘s needs are immense and it would be irresponsible to believe that its government can by itself meet them.

Thanks again for emailing me about this important issue.

Sincerely,

Gwen Moore
Member of Congress


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