Annie’s statement, released in June 2011:
I was relieved to hear the President’s words on Afghanistan tonight.
My view is that we must look for the quickest way to decrease our military involvement in Afghanistan, consistent with protecting our national security. Withdrawing 33,000 troops in this coming year is a welcome start, and the President’s commitment to end our overall combat operations on a clear timeline is equally important – just as it was in Iraq. And frankly, like so many other Americans, I am impatient to accelerate this withdrawal.
As many of you know, I have been a consistent voice against escalating our combat involvement in Afghanistan. In October of 2009, I shared my thinking before the most recent troop surge, writing:
“The cancer of Al Qaeda seems to have spread to Pakistan and beyond. A wider war in Afghanistan will have little impact on the Al Qaeda leadership outside that country’s borders. Moreover our recent successes against Al Qaeda have come not in large scale military engagements in Afghanistan but through pinpoint attacks.”
That is why I called for a renewed focus on better coordination of intelligence and more targeted military action. Those efforts have produced critical successes in the region, thanks to the bravery of our men and women in uniform and the commitment of our civilian intelligence community alike. And now today, we must continue to call for our civilian and military leaders to look for opportunities to accelerate the end of our combat mission.
But the truth is that the most important line in the President’s speech wasn’t about how many troops would be brought home on which date. It was this:
“America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.”
After spending over $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, I could not agree more. Our strength as a nation and a world leader is built on the foundation of a strong economy.