WASHINGTON — It’s time for the United States to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, according to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
“I am of the feeling that our role should end in Afghanistan, that we have done what we are going to do,” Hanabusa told Civil Beat in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “I see no other way for us to continue.”
Hanabusa supported the 30,000-soldier troop surge that President Barack Obama ordered two years ago, but now she says she wants more clarity from the president about how he will ensure that all American troops are out of the country by 2014.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Obama administration is “exploring a shift in the military’s mission in Afghanistan” that could result in combat duties being scaled back before 2014. (Incidentally, Hanabusa’s Republican opponent in her 2012 bid for re-election, former Congressman Charles Djou, has been deployed to Afghanistan since September as a major in the U.S. Army Reserves.)
“We should have troops out,” Hanabusa said. “We have to see how the president intends to start that withdrawal.”
As is typical on Capitol Hill these days, there is financial pressure: Planned cuts to the Defense Department budget make the assumption that such a withdrawal will in fact take place, Hanabusa said.
But looking at the larger Mideast region, Hanabusa says it’s important to make strategic distinctions.
“To continue to say that Afghanistan and Pakistan are together, that’s also not acceptable,” Hanabusa said. “We have got to realize that Pakistan’s number one ally is China. It’s not us, it’s never going to be us, and so we have got to just stop right then and there. We’ve got to just leave Afghanistan.”
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