Earlier this week, a group of eight Democrats and six Republicans sent President Obama a letter asking him to reconsider his decision to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. Most, though not all, of the signers were frequent critics of President Bush’s Iraq policy: Reps. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.), and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) on the right, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) on the left. I talked yesterday to Congressman Jones, who has been a strong supporter of the mission in Afghanistan, and his concerns about an open-ended commitment were similar to Stefan Halper’s in the March issue of TAS.
“I don’t determine in the first few weeks of your administration that you have a strategy, though I know the administration thinks it has one,” said Jones. “We have 38,000 troops in Afghanistan. Add 17,000 and we’re at 55,000. A lot of our troops and equipment are worn out after multiple deployments. Our friends aren’t really helping us. We need a strategy.” Jones argued that these things need more thought before we commit additional troops. “I would hope that our president would take two or three months to get engaged with our friends, think of countries that would help us, and arrive at a strategy,” Jones said.
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