Rep. Walter Jones, an RPI Advisory Board member, presented last week on the House floor a short, powerful speech calling for ending US military action in, and the flow of Americans' tax money to, Afghanistan. Jones's speech focuses on continued US government spending in Afghanistan "at a time when America is drowning in debt" as well as recent killings of Americans in Afghanistan, including a father of two who had been stationed at a US Marines base in Jones's North Carolina district. Jones concluded his speech with the following appeal:
It is time for the Congress of the United States to face the fact that we have our own problems here in America. To send money—over $600 billion—to Afghanistan to build roads, schools, utility plants so the Taliban can blow them up makes no sense. It is time for little girls like these two to have their daddies at home and not have their daddies in a coffin.
Watch Jones's speech here, starting at time marker 6:29.
In his speech, Jones recommends two articles that he describes as containing the same conclusion—"The war in Afghanistan is a misuse of American youth, American money, and American military power." Jayel Aheram's Daily Trojan article Afghan War Must End Immediately may be read here. Ann Jones's The Nation article The Forgotten War: Twelve Years in Afghanistan Down the Memory Hole may be read here. As is expected from the well-read Rep. Jones, both of these articles are worth reading.
A United States-Afghanistan strategic partnership agreement signed by US President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, as well as a bilateral security agreement being negotiated, assert the extension of the US government's monetary and military commitments in Afghanistan well beyond the widely publicized end of 2014 deadline for concluding US military action.
On July 23, Jones offered an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act that would defund spending pursuant to the US-Afghanistan strategic partnership agreement. The amendment failed by a vote of 177 in favor to 246 opposed. Jones and Rep. Jim McGovern used the debate to criticize both the current and the planned agreements. Below, from the Congressional Record, are Jones's amendment and his and McGovern's statements from the House floor debate:
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
At the end of the bill (before the short title), add the following:
Sec. X. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated or expended to carry out any activities under the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed on May 2, 2012, except for such activities authorized by Congress.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 312, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, I've been here all day, like most of my colleagues. I've watched it on TV, I've been here on the floor. And I've heard so many times other Members say we're going to be out of Afghanistan in 2014. I hate to tell them, but that's not true. The administration is about to finish a negotiation with Mr. Karzai, who is a crook, to say that we will be there for 10 more years.
This amendment, what it does is basically just say that we in Congress have a responsibility to the American people to meet our constitutional responsibility of making sure that any agreement that the President should negotiate with any country, we're responsible for funding that agreement, that we will the vote on it. That's basically what this amendment does; it just says that, as we move forward with this strategic agreement, that the Congress will vote on the funds, and not just have any administration, Democrat or Republican, just to assume for 10 years that the taxpayers are going to buy into this agreement.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
. . . .
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, at this time I'd like to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern).
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment offered by my good friend and colleague from North Carolina (Mr. Jones). I want to thank him for his long and tireless leadership on ending the war in Afghanistan. He always asks the hard questions--or the questions that no one else wants to take on--because he believes so strongly in standing by our uniformed men and women and their families.
In May of 2012, the United States and most of our NATO allies entered into an agreement with Afghanistan called the Strategic Partnership Agreement. That agreement outlined in fairly broad terms how we and our allies will continue to support the security and economic development of Afghanistan over the near and long term.
Now, on the positive side, it was this agreement that provided the outline for how the United States would turn over responsibility for combat operations and national security to Afghanistan forces this year and next year in order to draw down our forces and end the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year. Congressman Jones and I would like to see that drawdown happen faster and sooner, but at a minimum, to happen on the time frame outlined by the President.
The unknown question is: What happens post-2014? Will the President determine that U.S. troops need to remain in Afghanistan? If so, how many troops, for how long, and for what purpose? Will we continue to train the Afghanistan military and police forces? And if so, how many U.S. troops will be involved? How long will it take to complete that mission? How much will it cost?
I believe it is right to demand that Congress specifically authorize the terms and costs of America's continuing involvement in Afghanistan. Congress has put this war on autopilot for too long. It is shameful. We need to take responsibility.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. This is a reasonable, rational amendment. And quite frankly, every one of us, Democrat and Republican, should vote for this.
. . . .
Mr. JONES. Mr. Chairman, you know, it is so ridiculous that America is financially broke, can't pay our own bills, and we're going to borrow money to pay for this agreement in Afghanistan.
The former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, when I asked him, what do you think about this agreement? I'll read his one sentence:
Simply put, I am not in favor of this agreement signed. It basically keeps the United States in Afghanistan to prop up a corrupt regime. It continues to place our troops at risk.
We are not being realistic. The American people are fed up and tired. We had 79 Americans killed the first of March to the end of June, and not one person on this floor knows that tonight but me.
Why and how can the American people continue to work their butts off, pay their bills, and we're going to prop up a crook in Afghanistan named Karzai and give him 10 more years of the American taxpayers paying his bills? It is a sad day for the taxpayers of America.
Thank you, Mr. McGovern. This is a reasonable approach. All it says is that we in Congress, every year, will vote whether we keep funding the wasted time, life, and money in Afghanistan.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.