Rep. Rooney: War In Afghanistan Will Last Decades

Friday, 03 Jul 2009 11:28 AM

By Kathleen Walter

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A former judge advocate and West Point instructor who just returned from Afghanistan, Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida believes that the U.S. faces a brutal struggle in Central Asia that could last for decades.

Not only will it test the young men and women on the front lines, Rooney said, but it will also be a legal struggle as U.S. military codes of conduct come up against a guerrilla enemy fighting a religious war in which suicide is a battlefield weapon.

See Video: Rep. Tom Rooney discusses the U.S. stakes in Afghanistan - Click Here Now

"When you're dealing with the Taliban or Al Qaeda or these groups that obviously are not signatories and obviously have a history of doing things that fly in the face of the Geneva convention--just to prove a point--that's what really, really worries me."

The Florida Republican had just learned of the capture of a U.S. soldier by a hardline faction of the Taliban, which does not operate by any recognized rules of warfare. The U.S. government will do everything possible to retrieve the soldier, he said.

"We are looking at decades," said Rooney. "I am going to be completely honest with you," he said. "It's going to be one of those things that's not months, not years, but decades, and the people of this country are going to have to be patient."

Though Rooney believes the war in Afghanistan is lacking in focus, he says—in addition to fighting Al-Qaida and the Taliban -- it also includes nation building designed to temper potential flare-ups of terrorist cells.

As for the cost, the congressman says all Americans will have to be swayed to buy into a prolonged war. He admits that funding—in a tough economy—may be hard to come by. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill with the help of international partners.

"What are our priorities?" questioned Rooney. "You have to have a robust military or you're not going to be living in a free society, because you're not going to be safe," he said. "The cornerstone of freedom is safety."

A major offensive in southern Afghanistan continued for a third day.

"I am confident our troops are more than capable of defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida," said Rooney.

See Video: Rep. Tom Rooney discusses the U.S. stakes in Afghanistan - Click Here Now

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