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Friday, October 2, 2009

Republican Congressman Calls for Immediate Withdrawal from Afghanistan

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R) intends to sponsor legislation calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Johnson stated that he is working closely with a bipartisan group, including fellow Republican Dr. Ron Paul, and Democrats, Jim McGovern and Jerry Costello, to craft withdrawal legislation.

At a recent town hall meeting, he explained the reasoning behind his position:

"I want to protect America, but I don't want to lose lives senselessly... and we cannot police the world.

"I'm suggesting to you that there is no end-game. I believe that our men and women are there in a mission that is ill-defined. I think we're losing people by the day, here and over there, with no even indirect relationship to our national security.

"We've had a succession from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, and the net result has been thousands of lives lost, and very little progress made.

"I'm in favor of doing everything we can to make America secure, to make sure we don't have another 9/11 or anything even analogous to that, but I'm also convinced that our presence in Afghanistan is not serving that role..."

Johnson's position is currently supported by a majority of the American public and will likely be given serious consideration by conservative and liberal Democrats. However, his legislation will inevitably draw ridicule from many fellow Republicans.

Despite the exploding budget deficit, skyrocketing national debt, falling Dollar, spiking casualty counts, and increased psychological ailments suffered by our troops, most Republicans will probably continue to support further troop escalation.

Even President Obama, who advocated 21,000 additional troops earlier this year, will likely oppose Johnson's pending, bipartisan legislation.

Though Johnson's views on Afghanistan represent a fantastic opportunity to debate the political, economic, and strategic ramifications of the current war, it would be interesting to hear Johnson's take on George Will's and Ralph Peters' propositions for a much more limited and narrowly focused mission in Afghanistan.

Neither Peters nor Will advocates a full-fledged withdrawal. Will has called for a small contingent of special ops, targeted drone, cruise missile, and air strikes, and a constant naval presence outside Afghanistan to closely monitor Al-Qaeda.

Peters largely agrees, though he is more open to an additional contingent of a small number of ground troops on Afghanistan soil to prevent Al-Qaeda from re-establishing training bases. Both reject a large number of ground troops, further troop escalation, and the open-ended commitment of nation building.

Would Tim Johnson and Ron Paul support this type of strategy? Al-Qaeda is a legitimate threat to U.S. national security and did utilize Afghanistan as a staging ground for planning, coordinating, and implementing terrorist attacks against America.

And would such a strategy, as opposed to a full-scale withdrawal, prove more palatable to those in Congress who may be quietly opposed to current war efforts, as well as further troop escalation?

Liberty community, what do you think?