We Need A National Dialogue On Afghanistan

I am deeply concerned that we appear to be getting pulled into another quagmire from which we don’t know how to exit – this time, in Afghanistan.

Without the kind of national debate this country needs, we are sending more and more troops into Afghanistan – about 60 percent of all the foreign troops in the country are now Americans and that percentage is going to go up. We have already spent several hundred billion dollars in Afghanistan, and that number too will go up.

What I am not hearing is the national debate about what our exit strategy is going to be. We have been there now for eight years. How many more years will we be there? Originally we went in there to find Osama bin Laden; we have not accomplished that. What are our goals now?

We need clarity about our relationship with the rest of the international community. How much of the burden is our country going to have to assume? What we do not want to see is, without a forthright national dialogue, tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of troops continue to pour into Afghanistan without knowing what we hope to accomplish.

The time is now for a major national debate on Afghanistan. That hasn’t happened. I think the scariest thing that can happen is that just, very quietly, we get sucked into a war that is a never-ending process. This is an issue about which we need a lot more clarity and a lot more debate.

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