December 2, 2009 – Washington, DC – Congressman José E. Serrano released the following statement on President Obama’s announcement of a surge in Afghanistan:
“I am with the President on many issues, but on Afghanistan, we don’t see eye-to-eye. I appreciated the difficulty of this decision for him, and also applaud the thoughtful and thorough nature in which he conducted the review. Unfortunately, I do not agree with the conclusion for a number of reasons.
“First, I do not believe that we have an adequate partner in the Karzai Administration or the Afghan government. Giving more time, money and support to the very leaders that have been unsuccessful for the past 8 years seems unlikely to ensure changes in their behavior, especially the corruption. I also fail to see the Karzai Administration exerting even the most minimal type of control outside of Kabul that would be necessary to build on for success.
“Second, I do not agree that success in pacifying Afghanistan can be equated to success against Al Qaeda. I understand that a resurgent Taliban could provide a safe haven to Al Qaeda, but during the past eight years, we have not eliminated the terrorists but merely pushed them across the border and to other regions. We need to focus on eliminating the terrorists as a firm goal for our counter-terrorism strategies—not solely on pacifying one unstable nation.
“Finally, I think that with the increased focus on Afghanistan, we risk losing focus on the worldwide nature of the terrorism threat. Our focus on occupying and ‘winning’ in Iraq prevented us from focusing on Afghanistan over the past 8 years, and I worry that preoccupation with ‘winning’ in Afghanistan now will divert our attention from other terrorism hotspots that could become threats.
“When this issue comes to a vote in Congress, I will vote against it. Besides my concerns about strategy, I believe that it is a cost that our nation can ill-afford, both in lives and dollars. I support the troops, but I believe the most responsible way to do so is by opposing further occupation of Afghanistan.”
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented the Bronx in Congress since 1990.