HASC Chair Gives Forceful Defense of Afghan War

While the American public has increasingly grown restless about the war in Afghanistan, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the US should tout its successes in Afghanistan rather than run away from them. Speaking Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., McKeon said the US should stay the course despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s apparent refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement. “The Afghan people have been amazing allies, President Karzai has not,” McKeon said, adding Afghans overwhelmingly support a continued presence of US troops after combat operations end later this year. In addition, the Loya Jirga, or council of Afghan elders, has backed the BSA’s signing. “Without our support—and that support includes presence and money—the Afghan Security Forces can’t execute,” he said. The Afghan military needs US and allied assistance with things such as logistics, intelligence, and air support, he added. McKeon said President Barack Obama should take credit for the gains made in the war, rather than ignore them. “Why on Earth will he not take credit for his own strategy?” McKeon asked rhetorically, noting the policy should be a “source of pride,” not a burden. “A safe and secure Afghanistan is within our grasp, don’t let it slip away,” McKeon noted.