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Entries in Withdrawal (10)

Wednesday
Dec282011

Perry Slams Obama Over US Troop Withdrawal, Parade

ABC News(URBANDALE, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused President Obama of putting politics ahead of troops at an early morning stop in Iowa Wednesday, criticizing the president for not holding a welcome home parade as the final soldiers returned from Iraq this month.

“As a veteran, as the commander-in-chief of our forces in Texas, some 20,000 young men and women who’ve been deployed multiple times, who I’ve had the opportunity and the great privilege to go visit in their theaters and welcome them home, have sent them off with ceremonies, it really disturbs me that nearly after nine years of war in Iraq, that this president wouldn’t welcome home our many heroes with a simple parade in their honor,” Perry told a crowd of 200 caucus goers at the Westside Conservative Club breakfast at the Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale.  “Mr. President, our soldiers come first and it comes before party politics.  We need to welcome our soldiers home, give them that parade.  Give them that pat on the back.  Tell them thank you for the freedom that we have in this country.”

Perry has long criticized Obama’s decision to disclose an end date for pulling U.S. troops in Iraq, arguing that the president put political expediency ahead of the safety of American soldiers.

“Most importantly you don’t tell the enemy what your timetable is going to be,” Perry told reporters in October, shortly after Obama set the deadline.  “This administration has signaled, telegraphed its intentions all too often, and that’s just unacceptable.  The last thing that you want to do is put those men and women’s lives in peril, and I think that’s what the president’s done by making a political statement to his base that he’s going to be out of Iraq on a date certain.”

The Texas governor also railed against the president for requesting a $1 trillion hike in the debt ceiling along with slamming his healthcare plan, saying “Obamacare is going to destroy healthcare in this country.”

Perry has three more events in Iowa Wednesday afternoon -- two meet and greets in Indianola and Pella, and a town hall in Oskaloosa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct242011

GOP Contenders Lambast US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Veering away from the economy and other domestic issues that have been their chief focus, the GOP presidential contenders on Sunday blasted a slated Dec. 31 pull-out of all but 150 U.S. troops from Iraq as a capitulation to the Iraqi government that imperils the still tenuous region.

Referring to the Iraqi government's refusal to shield any remaining U.S. troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts, Michele Bachmann said on Sunday that the Iraqis "disrespected" the very country that had overthrown their former dictator, Saddam Hussein.

She equated the coming pull-out with being "kicked out," and said Iraq should repay the United States the $700 billion it has spent waging war there.

"They're not a poor country.  They're a wealthy country," the Minnesota Congresswoman said on CBS' Face the Nation.

"I think that they need to do that, because what we will be leaving behind is a nation that is very fragile and will be subject to dominance by Iran and their influence in the region," she said.  "That's not good."

"It's going to leave a big vacuum in Iraq," former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain said on Face the Nation.

"We've lost the battle in Iraq with the Iraqi government," former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said on Face the Nation.  "We've lost this sphere of influence that we had."

Dismissing the GOP attack as disingenuous, Secretary of State Clinton countered on ABC's This Week With Christiane Amanpour that the withdrawal deadline was set before President Obama took office.

"Remember that it was President Bush who set the timetable in motion by agreeing with the Iraqis that all troops would be out by the end of this year," she said.  "And, of course, President Obama promised the American people that the troops would be out by the end of this year."

Despite the Republicans' accusations that the United States would be abandoning Iraq and leaving the door open for Iran to wield its influence there, Clinton said there would still be a strong U.S. presence in the region, and dialogue and support for Iraq would not end.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Obama's Afghanistan Timetable Gets Mixed Reactions

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Moments after President Obama announced a timetable for the withdrawal of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan over the next 15 months, reaction from lawmakers in the House of Representatives streamed in, ranging from high praise from the top of his party’s Congressional leadership, to criticism that the president is pulling out too quickly, but also complaints that he is not bringing troops home quickly enough.

Inside his own party, the president received the highest praise from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who credited the president for “beginning the process of bringing our troops home and ending the war in Afghanistan” and shifting the focus to rebuilding America.

“It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the president laid out -- and we will continue to press for a better outcome.  Concluding this war will enable us to reduce the deficit and focus fuller attention on the priorities of the American people: creating jobs and investing in our nation’s future by building a strong, thriving economy for our children,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

On the other side of the spectrum, although still from within the president's own party, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California said the plan is not nearly aggressive enough.

“This plan withdraws too few troops and takes too long to do it.  We can no longer afford to spend $10 billion a month on a war that is not making us safer at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling the United States ‘occupiers,’” Speier said in a statement.  “President Obama should immediately withdraw at least 30,000 troops -- the amount equivalent to the 2009 surge.  The remainder should come home by the end of next year."

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, said that he was “concerned about the president’s plan to begin troop withdrawal in Afghanistan” and said President Obama made the wrong decision.

The president also caught grief from a good share of freshmen Republicans.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-North Carolina, slammed the president for announcing “to the world his intention to set a deadline for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan.”

“Less than two months ago, American special forces led one of the most successful missions in modern history to kill Osama Bin Laden,” Ellmers stated.  “The success of this mission was due largely to its secrecy.  But now, the same President who oversaw this mission is giving a speech announcing to our enemies and the world our military strategy."

Rep. Randy Hultgren, who is also a freshman, said in a statement that he disagreed with President Obama’s timetable because it “reduces the U.S. presence more quickly than that suggested by his military advisers.”

House Speaker John Boehner, however, said that while he wants to bring our troops home as quickly as possible, “we must ensure that the gains we’ve made are not jeopardized.”

“It’s important that we retain the flexibility necessary to reconsider troop levels and respond to changes in the security environment should circumstances on the ground warrant," Boehner said.  "Congress will hold the Administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we’ve made thus far."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Tim Pawlenty Calls Obama's Afghanistan Plan a 'Grave Mistake'

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty criticized President Obama's decision to bring home 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer as "a grave mistake."

"I thought his speech tonight was deeply concerning," Pawlenty said in an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Wednesday evening.  "Look how he phrased the outcome of this war: He said we need to end the war 'responsibly.'  When America goes to war, America needs to win.  We need to close out the war successfully, and what that means now is not nation-building.  What it means is to follow General Petraeus' advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down."

Pawlenty said Obama apparently believes he knows better than Petraeus, who Pawlenty praised as "the smartest, most insightful guy in this debate."

"This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success, not some vague notions of a responsible wind-down and then jumping over what the real mission is now, which is stabilizing the security of that country," he said.

"To leave now when we're so close to a successful completion...I think is a grave mistake," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun222011

Obama Navigates Math, Politics with Afghan Troop Withdrawal

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- When President Obama was contemplating a new Afghan war strategy in late 2009, he faced sharp divisions within his own administration between those recommending 40,000 or more troops and a full counterinsurgency and those advocating half as many and a focus on counterterrorism.

He chose a middle road: 30,000 troops and a mix of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, or COIN, in the military lingo.

Now, he's facing a similar disagreement as he announces Wednesday night the timetable for ending the so-called Afghan surge -- this time between those supporting a modest reduction of 5,000 to 10,000 troops before the year's end and those pushing for deeper cuts.  He might again risk pleasing neither side.

The pace and scope of the withdrawal has sparked controversy between the administration and the military, which has warned against pulling out too fast.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is set to retire at the end of the month, warned earlier this month that it would be premature to make any significant changes to the military campaign in Afghanistan.  Gates had noted in March that the gains in Afghanistan "are fragile and reversible."

On the other side, Obama faces a war-weary public.  According to the latest ABC News polling, 73 percent of Americans say the United States should withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer.  Yet far fewer, 43 percent, think that will happen.

Americans also question the long-term impact of America's presence in Afghanistan. Fifty-seven percent say the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States.  But far fewer, 25 percent, say it has contributed "a great deal," which is the kind of payback many want to see, given the war's steep price tag. The United States has spent roughly $112 billion in Afghanistan this year alone.

With Congress mired in ongoing debt negotiations and the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt limit looming, lawmakers are urging the president to focus America's resources at home instead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

John McCain Admonishes Jon Huntsman on War Stance

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain offered some blunt advice Tuesday to Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and other critics of continued U.S. military involvement in Libya and Afghanistan.

"I hope that all of these candidates as the campaign goes on understands what our national security requirements are, that we are the world's leader, America has to lead, as we are not leading in Libya, which is one reason why that conflict, third rate military, has not been concluded," McCain told ABC News.

"I hope that they will learn and listen to people like Gen. David Petraeus and others, who has the highest not only respect and admiration but a record of success," he said.

Huntsman has said "we just can't afford" participation in the NATO operation in Libya, and he's raised concerns about prolonged involvement in Afghanistan, where he says, "we're wasting our money and we're wasting our strategic resources."

McCain wouldn't directly say whether Huntsman's views should disqualify him from getting the party's presidential nomination.

With President Obama poised to announce a reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beginning next month, McCain said he agrees with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a "modest withdrawal" is "important."

But he added that he would be "very reluctant to reduce the surge troops capability," referring to the more than 30,000 troops President Obama ordered sent to Afghanistan in 2009 to help stem the violence there.

"I believe that one more fighting season and we can get this thing pretty much wrapped up,"” McCain said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Sen. Bob Corker Says War in Afghanistan 'Not Sustainable'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In another sign of growing bipartisan concern about American involvement in Afghanistan, one Republican Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee says the war is "unsustainable."

"I think all of us who have been in Afghanistan on the ground multiple times know that what we're doing there on the ground is just not sustainable," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC News.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested the troop withdrawals scheduled to begin this summer should be "modest," but Corker joins others in Congress who are looking for a significant draw down of American involvement in Afghanistan by the end of the year -- including scaling back what he called the U.S. "nation-building effort" in Afghanistan.

"We've got this huge nation-building effort under way [and] I think if our citizens saw our footprint in Afghanistan, saw what was happening there from the stand point of all the things we're investing in in this country, the distortions in its culture -- we've got to change our footprint," Corker said.  "This is not a model that we can replicate in other Middle Eastern countries."

In his interview with ABC News, Corker also weighed in on the debate over raising the debt ceiling.  While it has been raised almost 100 times since it was established in 1917, this time some Republicans are saying it should not be raised again.  But as the nation's debt inches closer to the current limit of $14.3 trillion, Corker says raising it is not a matter of if, but of when.

"The debt ceiling at some point has to be raised," Corker said.  "I don't think there's anybody that questions the fact that if we ended up getting in a situation where the U.S. government was sending out IOUs like the state of California did at one point, that ends up creating quite a brand problem for our country."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling was exceeded in April, but accounting maneuvers (like halting contributions to pension funds) will finance U.S. financial obligations through Aug. 2.  Like many of his Republican colleagues, Corker questioned Geithner's timing on a debt ceiling breach.

"We don't know what the date is," Corker said. "I mean any smart treasury secretary would not say three months out Aug. 2 is the deadline. I don't know what the date is. It might be Aug. 2, it might be Aug. 15, it might be Sept. 20. Who knows?"

Corker and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recently introduced the Commitment to Prosperity (CAP) Act, legislation that gradually enacts a cap on federal spending.  The proposal would limit federal spending at 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product -- the typical level for the past 40 years.  The current level is 24.7 percent.  According to Corker, that would result in spending reductions of $7.6 trillion over the next decade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Bin Laden's Death Spurs Debate Over Troops' Future in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden's death has given new urgency to the voices calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

The goal of the war in Afghanistan, the longest in U.S. history, has often been said by President Obama to be to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda."

Now that the organization's leader is dead, some argue that the United States should withdraw from a war that costs billions of dollars every year and has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 U.S. troops and more than 8,000 Afghan civilians.  Citing cost concerns, some lawmakers argue that the country should instead turn its attention more closely to domestic budget and economic issues.

"Most people I talk to say that we need to address our nation's budget deficit, and we are spending a lot of money in Afghanistan," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.  "Now that bin Laden has been executed, we must go home."

Opponents of the war also point to the fact that bin Laden was captured in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, through years of intelligence gathering and counter terrorism operations, not military might and the counter insurgency strategy employed in Afghanistan.

The United States is scheduled to draw down its troops in the country in July, but there is no definitive timeframe for a complete pullout.

Two members of the House plan to unveil a bipartisan bill this week that would require the president to submit a withdrawal plan with specific dates.

"The Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act," co-authored by Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., also calls on Obama to identify when and how the United States will hand over security responsibilities to the Afghan people.

But so far, there is little indication from the administration that it plans a shift in its strategy in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

Sen. Sherrod Brown: 'We Need to Wrap Up in Afghanistan'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Until now, Congressional opposition to the war in Afghanistan has been largely limited to a small number of liberal Democrats in the House, but if Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH.) is correct, we are about to see a movement in the Senate in favor of rapidly withdrawing U.S. troops.

"One of the most important things is staying on schedule starting in July on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan because, one, it's not working so well, second, because of the cost of that to American taxpayers," Brown said in an interview with ABC News.

President Obama has said the U.S. would begin withdrawing some troops from Afghanistan in July, but he has not specified how many troops would come home.  Brown insisted the withdrawal must be significant and ultimately lead to an end to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.

"I think the withdrawal begins in earnest [in July].  A systematic withdrawal of troops out of Afghanistan," Brown said.  "I think we've been there too long."

Support for the war has generally been strong in Congress since the initial invasion in 2001, but there has been some opposition among House Democrats.  On Thursday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) forced a vote on withdrawing U.S. troops.  The measure failed overwhelmingly by a vote of 321 to 93, but attracted 28 more "yes" votes than the last time Kucinich forced a vote on withdrawal.

Sen. Brown predicts opposition is growing among Senate Democrats.

"I will be pushing it," Brown said.  "And so will a lot of my colleagues."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

Kucinich Demands Withdrawal of US Troops in Afghanistan by Year's End

US Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been an outspoken opponent of the war in Afghanistan since the outset of military operations in October 2001.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will once again debate his resolution to pull troops out of Afghanistan.

H. Con. Res. 28 calls for President Obama to remove troops from Afghanistan within 30 days of adoption, or if the president determines such a rapid withdrawal would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops, then delay the withdrawal to no later than the end of the year.

“This is an effort to get us out of Afghanistan no later than the end of the year,” Kucinich, D-Ohio, told ABC News Thursday morning.  “Most American people know that this war isn’t worth fighting for, that we should have been gone a long time ago, that the cost of it at $100 billion a year, and the cost of lives to our troops, the deaths of innocent civilians, all of this makes this war dangerous, risky, a waste of time, a waste of money.”

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States' plan to begin withdrawing troops in July of 2011 is still on schedule.  But the pace of withdrawal is expected to be gradual, with some troops remaining to train and assist the Afghan military after the final pullout planned for the end of 2014.  Currently there are about 97,000 American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination, unleashed on President Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, criticizing the president’s strategy to slowly withdraw troops, even though the Pentagon is set to begin decreasing troop levels this summer.

“We’re there, number one.  That’s the first thing that’s wrong.  We shouldn’t be there,” Kucinich said.  “The second thing that’s wrong is we’ve stayed too long.  The third thing that’s wrong, we’re spending $100 billion a year; the fourth thing that is wrong is the counter-insurgency strategy, which is almost an oxymoron.  The minute that you’re there occupying, the occupation fuels an insurgency.  So who are these geniuses that are keeping us there in Afghanistan while our troops bear the brunt of this disaster with more fatalities, more injuries, and also there’s more civilians who are being killed.”

Kucinich has repeatedly brought similar resolutions to pull troops from Afghanistan to the floor in the past.  Even under Democratic control, the resolution has never passed.  Last year, the resolution was defeated 356-to-65.  Just five Republicans, and 60 Democrats backed the effort.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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