California Reps. -- Waters, McKeon, Issa, others -- weigh in on Obama's Afghan troop plan
California's is the largest state delegation in the House of Representatives -- 34 Democrats, 19 Republicans -- so you can always expect a diversity of opinion from its ranks. That’s certainly the case as representatives react to President Obama’s call for 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan.
Some say he’s going too far, others that he’s not going far enough. No surprise there, but here’s a sampling of Golden State opinions, from both sides of the aisle:
Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley): “Partial measures and artificial deadlines are not acceptable. He questioned whether the troop increase is “enough to achieve our goals with minimal casualties. I hope it is, but I also urge the president to keep an open mind on deploying more troops if necessary.... I also question announcing a July 2011 deadline to begin troop withdrawals. That only tells our enemies to lay low for 18 months.’’
John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) said the people of Afghanistan will be “better served if we focus our efforts on improving the socioeconomic conditions of the region instead of sending more of our brave soldiers to fight in this war.”
Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said Obama’s “insistence on a timetable for leaving Afghanistan before his plan has even begun casts serious doubt about his commitment to a successful mission.”
Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “I must respectfully disagree with the president. Afghanistan needs a political solution — not a military one. Adding more troops won’t change this important fact.”
Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita): “All Americans want to see our troops leave Afghanistan as soon as possible after successfully completing their mission, but we want that redeployment to be based on the events and conditions on the ground — not the Washington political clock. Setting a date certain to begin withdrawing U.S. forces risks undermining the very mission the president endorsed.” But McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, applauded Obama for ordering a troop increase. He said he hoped Obama would travel throughout the country to rally the public behind his strategy.
Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach): “I’m in favor of an Afghan approach. Not an American or European approach. As long as we have U.S. or NATO combat troops there, this strategy will not work and if given the opportunity, I will vote against funding for the current additional troop request.”
Pete Stark (D-Fremont): “Lasting peace can only come through a diplomatic solution.” He called the announcement a “great disappointment.”
Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles): “I cannot support a continued policy of waste and open-ended spending in Afghanistan, especially given the severe economic challenges we must confront within our own country.” However, Waters also said that Obama “at least spoke of an exit strategy ... but he did not provide sufficient details on how we would achieve our goals and be able to withdraw from Afghanistan.”
-- Richard Simon
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Photos, from top: President Obama at West Point. Credit: Associated Press; Darrell Issa. Credit: Associated Press; Howard "Buck" McKeon. Credit: Getty Images; Maxine Waters. Credit: Bloomberg