Rep. Capuano Statement on Trump’s Afghanistan Speech

August 22, 2017

“President Trump delivered yet another disappointment in his address on Afghanistan last night.

During his campaign, I found myself agreeing with two points candidate Trump made over and over — the need to tame Wall Street and the need to get out of Afghanistan.

“As soon as he made his first appointments, it was clear to me Trump would not govern as he had campaigned relative to Wall Street, even though I suspected this would be the case.

“Last night’s speech shows Trump has now abandoned his promises about Afghanistan. Instead of finding a way out, he committed the United States to remaining there during his entire Presidency, without any possibility of “winning” anything.

“I voted to send American troops into Afghanistan in 2001 with a specific and achievable mission: to kill, capture and destroy the people who attacked America on September 11th — Al Qaeda. That mission was accomplished long ago as far as Afghanistan is concerned. No one ever suggested that America was embarking on a 20-year effort in nation building.

“I know Al Qaeda and their off-spring and affiliates are not gone — but they have not been in Afghanistan in any large numbers for a long time. The war against terror is not a static war confined by geography. The enemy moves amongst countries, blends into various societies, and emerges where and when they choose. I am not sure how to finally defeat this enemy, but I know it will not be done with large standing armies occupying foreign lands.

“I recognize that, if the United States leaves Afghanistan, we may have to go back someday to continue the war against terrorism. That may justify a fixed forward base in Afghanistan and maybe other countries as well. It does not justify a never-ending territorial deployment of our forces who are putting their lives at risk or the billions of wasted dollars every year.

“I am open to any suggestion to win the war against terror, but I know we cannot do it by occupying every country where terrorists hide. I also know that we cannot demand perfection against terrorists — otherwise we would be occupying England, France, Germany and virtually every country on earth.

“Flexibility. Tenacity. Intelligence. Commitment. These are the virtues we need to win THIS war. Not tired old tactics that have been repeatedly proven failures.

“It is long past time to bring our troops home and adjust our tactics and policies to address the realities of today’s war — not the history of yesterday’s wars.”