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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Chris Murphy on Troops in Afghanistan  CSPAN  April 14, 2021 8:05pm-8:20pm EDT

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what they want. any federal law addressing the ground rules of our democracy has a special obligation to be sober, to be factual, and to be bipartisan. the senate has done just that in the past. we've passed reasonable laws by huge bipartisan margins he making it easier to vote but harder to cheat. so ask yourself. why won't democrats today deal in truth and facts? why do they keep using the same smears to distract from their policies? why are they hell bent on a bill that passed the house with purely partisan support but bipartisan opposition? talk about tipping your hand. senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr.
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president. my colleagues, there is a saying about afghanistan that we've turned the corner toward victory so many times that we're spinning in circles. during the beginning of my time in congress, i went to afghanistan to visit our troops and military leadership about every two years. each time i went, i was met by a new, capable, impressive general who just started his year long tour who told me the last general did it wrong and this time everything was going to be different. and i remember coming back from my third trip to afghanistan. i think it was 2011 -- convince thad it was time to leave. -- convinced that it was time to leave. the primary mission had been accomplished. within a few years of our invasion, al qaeda and afghanistan had been reduced to a shell of its former self. we had really shifted to a new mission, nation building. at the outset, there was reason
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for us to stay and engage in that mission and work with the new afghan government to help get it on its own feet. but by 2011, that mission had for all intents and purposes become a permanent one. and now after 20 years of war and hangerring about when the right time is to leave, we have to acknowledge some basic truths. our military presence in afghanistan is not creating the conditions necessary to eradicate the taliban nor the conditions necessary to create a fully functional afghan military or government. in fact, the facts on the ground would tell you the opposite is true. the longer we stay, the more powerful the taliban becomes and the less willing the afghan government appears to be to make
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the hard choices to stand on their own. we can pretend that another year is going to change this, but it won't. just a little bit more time. that's become the rinse and repeat phrase of the afghanistan hawks. but to stay any longer is really -- let's be honest -- a decision to stay forever. and that's something that the american people do not support. i want to tell you one story from my trip to afghanistan in 2011 that helped confirm my belief that something was very wrong about our policy there. i went with a bipartisan delegation. i was in the house at the time. we visited a far-off province in western afghanistan, a small-town called parmakhan. we were there to visit a group of army commandos who toured us around this village. they were protecting the farmers in this village from taliban attack. and they attested to us that the
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attacks had largely stopped. and in the place of those attacks had matured a commerce between the taliban forces that surrounded the village and the farmers of the village. and as we walked around this village, we made our way through fields of these beautiful, beautiful colorful flowers. and i turned to my colleague next to me, and i asked him if he had a sense as to what this crop was. and he said i think i do but let's confirm. so we asked one of the village elders what they were harvesting in these fields. poppy he told us. our u.s. military forces were protecting the poppy trade in this western province of afghanistan. in fact, protecting the ability of the taliban to come in and purchase that poppy in order to fuel the insurgency that we were
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fighting. our troops were literally being utilized to protect the revenue source of our enemy. and so no wonder our policy in afghanistan appears circular. in many ways it is and it has been for a very long time. but even for those who disagree with me and condition test that our presence there has helped facilitate the survival of the taliban, what evidence is there that staying for another few years is going to make the key difference? the american war in afghanistan is nearly 20 years old. it's the longest war in u.s. history, outlasting the civil war, the spanish american war, world war i, world war ii and the korean war combined. the u.s. and other international donors have invested an extraordinary amount of money and effort and blood to help stand up a functioning afghan
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government and civil society. and yet that government has failed to get widespread support from the afghan people. there are many reasons for this, but there's one big one -- corruption. and the billions upon billions of dollars that are pump into the afghan economy by u.s. companies often never find their way to actually helping the people of that country. too much of our aid has been siphoned off by local leaders and unintentionally we have helped establish a system of corruption that has become so pervasive and so predatory that people have frankly become less resistant to taliban inroads. without a functioning police force, local governors, they establish their own malley has and the mafia-style system has led to a drug trafficking network fueled by the poppy production network i talked
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aboutment. this has distorted afghanistan's economy and neutralized a lot of our economic aid. yet the united states often over the course of the last 20 years has tolerated these warlords, these drug traffickers and corrupt defense contractors in afghanistan because we consider the enemy of our enemy to be our friend. our entire mission there has often been built on a self-defeating strategy. in fact, what began as a vital mission to eliminate the threat of those who attack add us on september 11 has now in some ways become a symbol of nearly everything that's wrong with american foreign policy. our armed presence in afghanistan epitomizes this hubristic myth over the power of u.s. troops abroad, that they can completely dismantle terrorist networks by force, install and cultivate a stable
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democratic government, and eliminate rampant corruption and illegal drug cultivation. two decades and nearly $2 trillion of spending later, we have seen the limitations of those fan taft cal assumptions -- fantastical assumptions. our generals have offered powerpoint presentation after powerpoint presentation on how this time it is going to be different, but it never is because the failure really isn't in the execution. the failure has been in the design. a few thousand troops -- and that's what we have there today -- cannot deliver security and political stability to a complex, multicultural, multilingual nation long resistant on the other side of the world. we were right to pursue the al qaeda terrorists that attacked us on september 11, but that mission is completed, and it's time to face facts about the limitations of american
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military power in afghanistan and bring our troops home. now, let's be clear. al qaeda still wants to harm the united states, but the threat úneg when they attacked our embassies in kenya, tanzania, bombed the u.s.s. cole and killed thousands of americans on september 11. in afghanistan there may be only 200, 300, maybe 400 al qaeda members total. the organization is no longer capable of planning large-scale attacks against the united states. that's what our intelligence estimates tell us. and frankly there are far more al qaeda members today in other countries, like yemen, for instance. does that mean that we should also plant huge numbers of u.s. troops in every place where there are security vacuums to eliminate the terrorist threat from those countries? of course not.
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after two decades of the war on terror, we made a ton of mistakes but we've also gotten a lot better in terms of our intelligence capabilities and our ability to strike against a terrorist threat absent a huge in-country presence. why not apply that lesson learned to afghanistan? to their credit, the trump administration was right to finally call it like it is and state that the u.s. presence in afghanistan couldn't and shouldn't continue forever. but, as usual, the trump team didn't put in the work to ensure that week -- we could do this by may 1. so a four-month extension announced by president biden will give us the ability to chart out the operational plans for pulling out the troops that we still have there. finally, i want to be honest.
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when we withdraw, there is a real possibility that the situation in afghanistan is going to get worse. it is likely that fighting between the afghan government and the taliban escalates. at that point, either the afghan government will have to lead the fight without the crutch of american support or the government could collapse. but this is the key point -- that has been the dynamic for the last 15 years, and it is going to continue to be the dynamic for the next 15 years. it wouldn't be any different if we had stayed for another five years, another 20 years, or another year. there's stillly no evidence to suggest -- there's simply no evidence to suggest that things are going to change. after 20 years and billions of dollars of investment in the afghan government, the onus has to be on them to get their act together and earn the support of the people. and one last point -- being in afghanistan is a choice
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, a choice to not focus on other theaters that present more serious threats to international norms, global stability and american security. it bogs america down have 2,500 troops there and thousands more contractors and billions of dollars. it bogs us down in a theater that frank lay just matters less to us -- that frankly just matters less to us today than it did years ago. just within the last few days china has leveled new threats to the territorial integrity of its neighbors, russia is amassing thousands of troops on the border of ukraine and there are new worse about a potential atax break on nato member states. and, remember, counterterrorism officials and the our daily news feed remind us that our most serious threat to america today is actually not from foreign terrorist organizations but from domestic groups. we spend more money than any other nation in the world on security, but even given the gargantuan size of our global military footprint, we cannot
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and should not be everywhere. we need to make choices every now and again, and right now it is fantasy, not reality, that undergirds an argument to stay in afghanistan for another ten years or five years or even another year. a big part of being president is making tough choices, and today president biden has made the right one -- to end this war. i yield the flo >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are founded by these television companies and more. ♪ >> medco courts c-span is a
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public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front rosita to democracy. president biden announced the u.s. will begin removing troops from afghanistan on may 1 and set a final date for removal by september 11, 2000 21, the 20th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 and he delivered his speech from the white house treaty room. president biden: good afternoon. i'm speaking to you today from the roosevelt treaty room in the white house. the same spot where in october of 2001, president george w. bush informed our nation that the united states military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in afghanistan. it was just weeks, weeks after the terrorist attack on our


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