As we mentioned, we had a sprawling interview with U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee. (Inslee came through last week's primary with 56 percent of the vote.)

Here's the section on Afghanistan:

What's your position on Afghanistan?

I think what we're seeing is a publicity campaign by Gen. [David] Petraeus to keep us there for decades, frankly. I don't think that's the right policy for the United States. It's not the right priority.

What's your solution?

I don't have a magic wand. It's a terrible situation for the people of Afghanistan, and I don't want to pretend I have some solution that's going to make this a happy ending. But I believe that it's more important to have police in Lynnwood, Washington, where they're laying off 25 percent of their cops, than spending $4 billion training police officers in Kabul, Afghanistan.

It's just a matter of priorities. I believe what we ought to do, over a relatively short period of time, is transition from an occupation force and a nation building effort involving over 100,000 troops to one that one focuses on maintaining the ability to eliminate any al Qaeda or terrorist threat in Afghanistan, but we can do that with a lot less troops—we can do it with special forces, with aircraft, with missiles, with a robust intelligence. By the way, we have theaters not just in Afghanistan. We've got threats in Pakistan too.

We've got the wrong structure to deal with this threat right now. We ought to continue to help in some fashion, but $35 billion fails to recognize that if we're going to do nation building right now on this scale it has to be in the United States. If we're doing nation building right now, it ought to be in the United States. We would have had thousands of teacher layoffs in the state of Washington except for the [$10 billion in teacher aid] bill we just passed.

There is some foreign aid that we should continue to provide Afghanistan, but it should be commensurate with their status. They are not the only community that is suffering educational and nutritional needs.

Is this now officially a problem for President Obama, that his own party is starting to object to his policy?

Well, I don't know and I don't think of this in terms of the politics of it. I think of this in terms of the values and the priorities we stress in the situation. I think what we've indicated in the House is that country is changing its view on this quite rapidly. I think about 30 voted to change the policy last year and there were about 112 this year. So I think this is a rapidly changing perspective. I think that will continue.

If you really listen to what the plan is, it's to stay there for a decade or decades. That is not an acceptable prioritization. We have to initiate a draw down and a restructuring of our military forces today. We have 100,000 troops there now. We need probably less than two percent of that to maintain that special operations presence  in Afghanistan to be able to eliminate maybe 100 people who are associated with al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That doesn't happen in 24 hours or in a couple of weeks, but we should start that process. But what I'm hearing from Gen. Petraeus is setting the stage for a multiple-year, huge continued occupation of Afghanistan to tune of about $30 billion a year.

We have all these Republicans complaining about federal spending who are quite happy to shovel out $30 billion in federal spending in Kabul, Afghanistan. If you want to cut federal spending there's a really really good place to start. If we had half as many people giving campaign speeches and running ads about federal spending that would help us move the ball on Afghanistan we could truly cut federal spending.

[Although Inslee, who voted recently for a deadline on withdrawal, didn't answer the question about Obama---shifting the camera instead to the Republicans---he did criticize Obama in December 2009 when the president announced his Afghan surge policy.

“I have very serious concerns about this proposal. I just don’t think it is headed in the right direction,” Inslee told the Everett Herald]
Share
Show Comments