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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?


  1. I think we ought not help the liberals stab America in the back and hand the Jihadists a massive worldwide propaganda victory over an incompetent CIC. Since you asked.


  2. I think we are too vested in the area to bail on the impact we have already made. I am for a strategy like George Will talks about.

    For all intents and purposes, the major argument for presence in Afghanistan at the moment is to eliminate Al Qaeda control of the "Heroin Valley," thereby cutting off their economic lifeblood. Geographically and militarily speaking, it seems like it should require almost zero direct troop activity to simply carpet bomb/napalm the opium farms out of existence, with subsequent small contingents sent in to do the cleanup.

    I don't see why this shouldn't be an option on the table, other than it "might" be more difficult to establish ourselves as the "good guys" in that region to non-Al Qaeda civilians by destroying the landscape. I see it more like an option to sever Al Qaeda's spine and gain control of the area, whether those people would like us for it or not.

    Then we need some sort of strategy for actually defining an endgame in the middle east.

    Pulling out 100% now, though, makes no sense.

  3. Johnson: "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..."

    Well, not really everything, eh?

    Let's help Johnson find an "even indirect relationship to our national security." If the US pulled out, immediately no less, Mullah Omar would be back in Khandahar before a week was out. Unless Johnson knows something the rest of don't know, there is no reason to suppose that Omar would be any less willing to shield and support bin Laden than he was in 2001 or is now, as he continues to work hand in glove with al Qaeda. The notion that southern and eastern Afghanistan would not again become a refuge for al Qaeda is frankly daft.

    As for the Ralph Peters plan for a small US contingent to stay behind and suppress al Qaeda (but not the Taliban!?), with all respect to Peters as a fine man and soldier, these troops would be like a lost foreign legion wandering in a desert without the extensive US and NATO footprint and the Afghan Army and police, as limited as those forces are.

    Now, the "nation building" business is another matter. Perhaps its not necessary or desirable. But a large US force is indispensable. That it's mission is "ill defined" and long term is a function of the uncertainties of combatting an elusive terrorist enemy. An army can have a well defined mission when it's objective is to march on Rome, Paris or Berlin.

    This is not that kind of conflict. If we want to see to it that our nation, people and interests are protected from another 9/11, we have to be prepared to wage the war that needs to be waged, not one that fits a preconceived idea of neatness or efficency.

    And what on earth has Vietnam to do with any of this? That Johnson throws that in suggests a man whose thinking is simply incoherent.

  4. So, the views of active duty Military are not taken into account at all here? Rep. Johnson apparently could care less that for the rest of their lives, the men and women who fought in Afghanistan will have the label "Losers" attached to their Military Service record.

    Yeah, baby, give a whole new generation of Military Vets a health dose of Vietnam syndrome.

    Don't know this guy Johnson, but I've just lost all respect for him.

  5. You know, it just occured to me. I wonder if this Johnson guy is a Veteran himself?

    Or, perhaps he's just a Chicken Chicken, as opposed to Republicans who get hammered for being Chicken Hawks.

    As a Military Veteran myself, I'll take a Chicken Hawk, who may not have served, over a Chicken Chicken like Johnson, or even a Hawk Chicken, as in someone who actually served but no longer supports the Military, any day of the week.

    Eric Dondero, USN (hon.)

    USS Kittyhawk CV-63
    USS Luce DDG-38

  6. Thanks for all the comments guys. Here are some more specific questions for you:

    1. How would you specifically define victory?
    2. What effect will a large-scale, long term presence have on $1-$2 trillion budget deficits?
    3. What effect will a large-scale, long term presence have on the $11.5 trillion national debt?
    4. What effect will a large-scale, long term presence have on a weak U.S. Dollar?
    5. What effect will a large-scale, long term presence have on the current Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder epidemic plaguing the military?
    6. How many U.S. casualties, both deaths & maimings, would be acceptable in an open-ended commitment?
    7. Would you accept higher taxes or a devalued Dollar (inflation) as the means to fund a much larger, much longer operation?