President Barack Obama's decision to deploy an additional 17,000 American troops in Afghanistan was a step in the right direction, but a “comprehensive overhaul of our war plan is needed,” according to Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain.
Independent Democrat Lieberman and Republican McCain, in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Thursday, say they are “troubled by calls in some quarters for the president to adopt a ‘minimalist’ approach toward Afghanistan. Supporters of this course caution that the American people are tired of war and that an ambitious, long-term commitment to Afghanistan may be politically unfeasible…
“Instead, they suggest, we can protect our vital national interests in Afghanistan even while lowering our objectives and accepting more "realistic" goals there — for instance, by scaling back our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people build a better future in favor of a short-term focus on fighting terrorists.”
But that approach is “dangerously and fundamentally wrong, and the president should unambiguously reject it,” the two legislators write.
“Let there be no doubt: The war in Afghanistan can be won. Success — a stable, secure, self-governing Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary — can be achieved…
“A minimalist approach in Afghanistan is a recipe not for winning smarter but for losing slowly at tremendous cost in American lives, treasure and security…
“We need a comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency approach backed by greatly increased resources and an unambiguous U.S. political commitment to success in Afghanistan over the long haul.”
“Afghan civilians,” Lieberman and McCain argue, “will risk their lives to help us only if they believe we are committed to staying and protecting them from the insurgents and helping to improve their lives.”
They conclude: “As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called Afghanistan ‘the war we must win.’ He was absolutely right. Now it is time to win it — and we and many other members of both political parties stand ready to give him our full support in this crucial fight.”
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