Though his cries for an accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan have lately been among the loudest on Capitol Hill, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Monday he wasn’t always against U.S. involvement in the country.
After presenting an internal briefing sent to senators last week by the White House in which the president states that “on the threat side we haven't seen a terror threat emanating out of Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years” -- a claim that conflicts with what President Obama has said publicly -- Manchin observed, “We seem to be staying well beyond our mission of counterterrorism. By all reports, we have been successful. We’ve done what we went to do.”
He added: “We went to Afghanistan for the right reason; we are staying for the wrong reason.”
For him, Manchin said, “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when he registered that China was the only nation taking advantage of Afghanistan’s copper and other resources. What’s more, he said, in terms of U.S. military presence abroad, other nations have placed on U.S. shoulders the burden of fighting off international threats -- and footing the bill.
“In Libya, if Qaddafi was such a threat, why would the rest of the Arab not help pay for it?” Manchin asked. “We’ll do the job if we have the expertise like we did in Gulf War one, but they paid; they were the ones footing most of the bill. So those are the questions we are asking. It just doesn't make sense.”
CORRECTION: The original version of this article misstated the war mentioned in the last paragraph.