Some LI Dems oppose troop increase in AfghanistanBy Bart Jones
November 29, 2009
President Barack Obama faces strong resistance from some local Democratic congressmen over his expected plan to call Tuesday for up to 35,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, while the area's sole Republican congressman says he backs the proposal.
TIM BISHOP (D-Southampton)
"I want to hear what he has to say, particularly with respect to an exit strategy," Bishop said. "But I have to say, I'm skeptical."
He said he also wants to hear from Obamaabout his "endgame" for getting out of Afghanistan, and "how we are going to pay for this." He said it will cost an estimated $1 billion a year for every 1,000 troops, so 35,000 troops would cost the U.S. $35 billion a year.Bishop said he had serious concerns about the Karzai government in Afghanistan and its ability to fight corruption. "I was reluctant to give President Bush a blank check in Iraqand I'm reluctant to give President Obama a blank check in Afghanistan," he said.
REP. PETER KING (R-Seaford)
He said he "fully" supports the president's anticipated call for more troops in addition to the 68,000 already there. Republicans have "been calling all along for more troops and for stronger action, and if the president does it, we have an obligation to support him," King said.
He said he was concerned any talk of an "endgame" and an "absolute exit strategy or any deadline" would play into the hands of America's opponents. "That will mean the enemy will simply wait us out," he said.
King said it is paramount our allies in the region, especially Pakistan, know "we will maintain our presence there even when we are successful in Afghanistan."
He said he was confident the United States could establish a secure, relatively stable state in Afghanistan that would prevent the Taliban from taking over and deny refuge to al-Qaida. If Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, "believes he can do it with 30,000 to 35,000 [more] troops, I have faith in him," King said.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D-Huntington)
"I don't favor a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, but I strongly disagree with adding troops at this time. . . . If the American people want the whole truth in Afghanistan, they should read the Army's own counterinsurgency manual. An effective campaign could take nearly 500,000 troops, $500 billion and 10 years. Are we ready for that?"
Israel said that rather than a troop buildup, "the mission should be a counterterrorism capability to kill al-Qaida wherever in the world it's a threat. The mission should not be more troops to support an Afghan regime that has shown no capacity to govern effectively."
REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D-Roslyn Heights)
He said he would support the troop increase if it came as part of a package to address Afghanistan's problems on multiple levels including political, economic and educational. Ackerman, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that has oversight on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, said he spoke to Obama two weeks ago about the issue.
"I told him if he was looking for support, it wouldn't be just troops. It had to be troops plus. They had to put together the entire piece," Ackerman said. "You can't fix this just with soldiers shooting at bad guys."
Ackerman said Obama told him he agreed.
Other Democrats, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and New York's two U.S. senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, said they are awaiting Obama's speech Tuesday before announcing a position on the troop increase.