Merkley Statement on Trump’s Address on Afghanistan

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s August 21 address on the future of the war in Afghanistan:

“This evening, in his address to the nation on the future of the war in Afghanistan, President Trump outlined a vague framework for a ratcheting-up of force in the now 16-year-long conflict. 

“The president’s pronouncement that he plans to avoid disclosing troop levels, military strategies and timelines — combined with his criticism of so called ‘micromanagement from Washington, D.C.’ — are clear indications of his intention to bolster military action in Afghanistan. But far too much of our blood and treasure has been spilled in Afghanistan, and it is long past time that we work toward strategies to wind down our operations.

“The United States must stay engaged directly and with regional partners to fight terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but additional U.S. troops on the ground — without details on their missions or how we will measure their success — is not a long-term approach in America’s best interest. 

“It is both notable and troubling that the president’s statement included no discussion about how he proposes to address the persistent deficiencies that have hampered the success of the mission for a decade and a half. For years, the American game plan has been to buy the Afghans a little more time, yet rampant corruption, weaknesses of the central government, and ethnic tensions continue to fuel the insurgency. The American people are understandably weary of continuing to send our men and women into harm’s way when the Afghan government isn’t taking the steps necessary for success. 

“It is imperative that President Trump consult with Congress before moving forward with any major new actions in Afghanistan. It is critical that Americans and their representatives in Congress weigh in on any additional plans. Secrecy on the most fundamental issues of mission and troop levels is designed to avoid accountability, and has no place in our ‘We the People’ republic.

“Americans are exhausted by a seemingly endless war. We have lost too many brave service members, and we owe all who have served there an extraordinary debt of gratitude. It is time for the president to present a compelling plan for regional stability and an end to American military involvement — not a vague plan to continue the failed strategies of the past.”