The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee criticized President Obama on Monday for not touting U.S. successes in Afghanistan.
“President Obama praised his run for the exits or pitied our wounded, instead of lauding the accomplishments of our troops and the importance of the mission they were given to fight,” Rep. Buck McKeon said at the National Press Club. He added, “If the president of the United States won’t give this speech, I will.”
Republicans — including former Defense Secretary Bob Gates — have repeatedly hit the president for not publicly talking about Afghanistan more frequently.
U.S. and Afghan relations have been strained since Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to let a bilateral security agreement — which dictates U.S. military involvement in the country after 2014 — be signed until after the Afghan elections this spring.
U.S. and NATO officials have, however, led a public — at times, anonymous — campaign to pressure Karzai to sign the pact, noting that the longer the agreement goes without being signe, the more the military’s ability to plan is compromised.
But the California Republican acknowledged that Americans don’t have an overly positive view of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, calling them “sick and tired of this war.” More than half of Americans believe the United States has mostly failed to achieve its goals with the war in Afghanistan, according to a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll released late last month.
But McKeon said Americans should focus on three questions: Is Afghanistan less of a threat to the United States? Is Afghanistan a better place? Is America safer compared to Sept. 10, 2011?
And despite disagreement with how the Obama administration has handled the war in Afghanistan — calling it “outrageous” — McKeon said, “There has been unmistakable progress.”
But he said Afghanistan’s national security forces still need U.S. assistance, echoing comments from Army Chief of Staff. Raymond Odierno at a Council on Foreign Relations event earlier this month.
The Pentagon has recommended leaving 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through 2017, but The Washington Post reports that the administration is also considering a plan that would keep 3,000 troops. The White House is currently considering four options on the United States’s post-2014 involvement.
“Put plainly, without our support — and that support includes presence and money — the Afghan security forces can’t execute,” McKeon said, but he noted that the “remaining gaps aren’t unreasonable for a five-year-old force — they need help with logistics, with administration, pay, and leave, with air support, with intelligence.”
What We're Following See More »
"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."
After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.