Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the plan to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan which President Obama outlined Wednesday isn’t nearly aggressive enough. Harkin, a Democrat, says America’s goals in that country have largely been met and it’s time for a more rapid withdrawal. He says the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost one-point-two trillion dollars, while 120-billion will be spent this year just in Afghanistan.
“And yet we’re told we can’t afford to invest in education in our country,” Harkin says. “We can’t afford to rebuild our highways, bridges, roads, things like that. We’ve gotta’ slash Medicaid for the poor. We’ve gotta’ cut Pell grants, and on and on, yet we can spend $120-billion dollars in Afghanistan.” Harkin says the primary reasons the U.S. went into Afghanistan are complete, quoting former President Bush, it’s mission accomplished.
“We went to Afghanistan to get bin Laden, to dismantle al Qaeda and to push the Taliban out of power,” Harkin says. “Bin Laden’s dead, al Qaeda is strong outside of Afghanistan and the Taliban is no longer in control. Why do we need to keep 90,000 troops there?” The president’s plan calls for 10,000 troops leaving Afghanistan by year’s end, another 33,000 leaving by September of 2012, and the remaining 66,000 pulling out by the end of 2014. Harkin says it’s time to re-think, in his words, “the so-called War on Terror.”
“We need to get out of these large-scale conflicts and refocus our efforts on smaller operations, intelligence gathering, law enforcement and cooperating with our allies,” Harkin says. “It looks like we’re going to have, at least through next summer, over 90,000 troops left in Afghanistan. That’s just unacceptable.”
The American deployment in Afghanistan currently includes 2,800 members of the Iowa National Guard.