“I oppose sending 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan because I am not persuaded that it is indispensable in our fight against Al Qaeda. If it was, I would support an increase because we have to do whatever it takes to defeat Al Qaeda since they’re out to annihilate us. But if Al Qaeda can operate out of Yemen or Somalia, why fight in Afghanistan where no one has succeeded?
“I disagree with the President’s two key assumptions: that we can transfer responsibility to Afghanistan after 18 months and that our NATO allies will make a significant contribution. It is unrealistic to expect the United States to be out in 18 months so there is really no exit strategy. This venture is not worth so many American lives or the billions it will add to our deficit.”
Challenger Congressman Joe Sestak
"President Obama has presented a plan that will allow us to finally complete a mission that is as indispensable today as it was eight years ago: the elimination of the Al Qaeda terrorists who struck us on 9/11," said Joe Sestak. "It is a difficult decision. After years of war and with economic challenges at home, the American people are justified in their concern about an increased commitment in Afghanistan. But the President has made the right call. If we leave Al Qaeda behind in a safe haven and are struck again, what can we ever say to those we swore to protect?
"From the outset of this debate, I have called for a strategy that is focused on Al Qaeda in Pakistan, is not overly dependent on nation-building in Afghanistan and is not open-ended. The President stated similar goals. But, while I support the President's overall approach, I will be looking for further details. First, the clear emphasis of our overall goal must remain focused on eliminating the safe haven in Pakistan. And second, we should measure our progress not by a fixed timetable, but by benchmarks of achieving America's security. We therefore must be provided those benchmarks of success and/or failure that trigger an exit or alternative strategy."
11th CD Democratic Candidate Corey O'Brien sent out out this email before the speech
As President Obama prepares to speak this evening about our troop commitment in Afghanistan, I am hopeful that the President will match any increase in troop levels with a renewed call for a bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan and for the Afghan government to root out corruption within its ranks. Corruption within Afghanistan has led to weakened popular support for the government, and a flourishing drug trade that has turned Afghanistan into the world’s largest narco-state. I believe that taking these actions will be critical to making real progress in Afghanistan, reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and fighting global terrorism, a growing drug trade, and international corruption.
Unsure of our resolve in Afghanistan over the last eight years, Pakistan has been hedging its bets and has been friendly to both the United States and the Taliban at the same time. To achieve regional stability, however, we must engage Pakistan and secure their unwavering commitment as a serious and lasting partner in our fight to eliminate terrorism. By collaborating with Pakistan to root out terrorists and secure and upgrade the country’s military equipment pipeline, we can bring stability to the region and reduce the global terrorism threats we face at home.
Republican 11th CD hopefull Chris Paige
Senator John McCain got it right: the President's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan is correct, but his decision to set an arbitrary withdrawal date is ludicrous...and ironic. In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, the Democratic Party successfully demanded the premature withdrawal of federal troops from the South, and the result was the horrifyingly racist policy known as Jim Crow. Despite its flaws, Radical Reconstruction would have ended legal segregation in the 1870's instead of the 1970's, and one can only imagine how much suffering this nation in general and African-Americans in particular might have avoided if federal troops had remained in the South to protect the biracial governments (usually led by Republicans) that Southern Democrats, often in league with the KKK, overthrew once our troops left. Similarly, the President's policy might create a "stable" government in Afghanistan, but his policy virtually guarantees that Afghanistan's women and its religious minorities will be oppressed by whatever unholy Taliban-inspired government takes over after we leave. (After all, the Solid South was stable, even as the Democratic Party and its allies in the Klan moved quickly to deny African-Americans their legal rights.) The Afghan people deserve better; our troops and their families deserve better. In words of my fellow Republican Ulysses S. Grant, we should accept nothing less than the Taliban's and Al Qaeda's "Unconditional Surrender."
I'm sure Congressmen Carney and Kanjorski will have statements out later today and we may even hear from Lou Barletta. Other prospective candidates such as Malcolm Derk, Dan Naylor and Dan Meuser are welcome to send me their thoughts that I will be happy to publish.
Lu Lac analyzes the situation and Zen is his usual open minded self. My friends at CSPT heard want they want and advocate endless war.
Congressman Chris Carney
"It is critical that we not back down from terrorists who threaten our long-term security. Sending additional troops into Afghanistan will give us the military manpower to contain al-Qaeda and the Taliban while laying the groundwork for the Afghan military to step up and the Afghan government to implement long-needed reforms.
I am, however, concerned about the narrow timeframe that the president has presented. While our commitment cannot be open-ended, the reality on the ground in Afghanistan must dictate the actual timeframe. It could take 18 months for our troops to be fully deployed and trained and equipped for battle. The president did an excellent job laying out the reasons for the overall policy, but I will reserve judgment until I see the full details of the plan.
Demonstrating a commitment to our efforts in Afghanistan will signal our resolve to the region and help Pakistan focus its attention on fighting terrorism on its side of the border.”
Congressman Paul Kanjorski hasn't released a statement but had this to say
Kanjorski said he wants to give the president "the benefit of the doubt" on his decision but wonders if the pursuit of a stable Afghanistan will only shift the problem.
"I'm looking forward to having an exit strategy," he said. "I don't want to support a 10-, 20-year commitment. ... We could spend ourselves into bankruptcy in Afghanistan."