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 »
Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to a raft of new tax and fraud charges filed against him by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday. Gates is expected to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
Robert Mueller announced new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort advisor Rick Gates. "The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges." The pair had been indicted on 12 charges in October. Since then, Gates's attorneys have asked to be excused from the case.
The FBI has reported that it failed to respond to a warning from "a person close to" Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Parkland High School on Thursday. "It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz." On the first occasion, it failed to properly investigate Cruz after it was reported to them that he left the following comment on a Youtube video: "Im going to be a school shooter."
Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign following revelations that the FBI had failed to adequately investigate multiple warnings about Parkland High School gunman Nikolas Cruz. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,'" said Scott. '...We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.'" According to an FBI statement, the FBI failed to inform local offices of information regarding "Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."