GOP Congressman: Afghanistan Mission 'Can't Be Won'

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A senior Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today denounced the Afghanistan war as a "mission that can't be won."

On a small conference call with reporters, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher pilloried General David Petraeus' plan to "force a centralized government, as envisioned by our State Department, onto the people of Afghanistan — these brave people who have fought invaders forever. We cannot win at that." The hawkish congressman, known for such bills as the “No Health Care Subsidies for Illegal Aliens Act of 2010,” said that he would be backing peacnik Dennis Kucinich's bill demanding a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"I'm not a pacifist in any sense of the word," the California congressman said, but using American military might to force the Afghan people to accept the Karzai regime is a "nonsensical goal for American troops overseas." (The call was organized by the New America foundation's Steve Clemons in response to Petreaus' testimony and media blitz this week.) 

Rohrabacher — who has a long, deep, an personal involvement in Afghanistan — had two messages for fellow members of the GOP caucus.

  • He bluntly urged those who feel compelled to support any ongoing U.S. military action overseas for fear of being seen as "in some way less patriotic" to "get over that."
  • He insisted that deficit hawks take accountability for war spending, saying the GOP has no business "howling about a $50 million expenditure for some radio station [when] we just let [Afghanistan spending] go by for billions without having any guarantee of success."

 

Rohrabacher's alternative policy for Afghanistan is both cynical and glib: He calls on the military to "recognize the tribal system" in Afghanistan and to "one by one" buy the loyalty of tribal leaders "for a year or two." 

For a sum of $3 billion, Roherbacher suggests, "we could bribe every local chief and village leader in that country, and then we could exit with our heads held high saying that we'd won — which is basically what happened at the end of the Iraq war."

The U.S. is currently spending $119 billion a year to fund the war effort in Afghanistan — a country with a $12 billion GDP.