U.S. lawmakers just back from Afghanistan say the United States and its NATO
allies must have a clearer strategy to stabilize the country and fight resurgent
Taliban forces and al-Qaida. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and
other Democrats in the delegation spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill, saying
Afghanistan's government also needs anti-corruption reforms.
lawmakers agree that while U.S. troops are doing the best they can in
Afghanistan, a solution lies not with military force, but with Afghan government
reforms and regional cooperation.
the 17,000 U.S. troop increase ordered by President Obama is aimed at
eliminating a resurgent Taliban and ensuring Afghanistan does not again become a
launching point for terrorist attacks.
But she says progress also will
depend on reducing corruption in the Afghan government.
"We need a
[military] force tailored in size to achieve a specific, clearly defined
objective, improved governance," said Nancy Pelosi. "Any strategy must address
systemic corruption within the Afghan government and crack down on drug
The regional challenge, Pelosi adds, involves not only
Pakistan, but also India, China, Iran, Russia and other nations interested in
seeing stability return to Afghanistan as the United States seeks to improve the
joint effort with NATO.
The U.S. congressional delegation also visited
NATO ally Italy. House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson describes the
message he and other lawmakers had for NATO officials.
"We were very
clear with our allies how we not only seek their help, and we're pleased with
the response certainly that we heard from Italy, but also that America cannot go
it alone and [how the United States is] skeptical sometimes of those who would
see us twist in the wind alone, we made it very clear that we are looking
forward to their commitment," said John Larson.
House Democrat Rosa
DeLauro says the United States and its allies are at a pivotal moment in efforts
to stabilize Afghanistan and fight terrorism.
"Any successful strategy
must include an effective partnership going forward with our NATO allies," said
Rosa DeLauro. "We cannot go back to failed policy which got us
Democratic Representative Ed Markey says decisions coming out of
the Obama administration review of Afghanistan must be aimed at creating a
"It's clear that there has not been a strategy,"
said Ed Markey. "We are 7.5 years late in putting together a comprehensive
At Monday's news conference on Capitol Hill, House Speaker
Pelosi was asked about concerns that, as Newsweek magazine recently put it,
"Afghanistan could become President Obama's Vietnam."
Pelosi said the
impression she has received from the Chairman of the U.S. military's Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, is that the U.S. troop increase is not the
beginning of an escalation in Afghanistan, adding that she believes President
Obama's decisions will be effective.
"What President Obama is going to do
in Afghanistan is not going to be irrelevant," she said. "It's going to be
decisive, and it's going to get the job done."
At the White House on
Monday, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs noted that the Obama administration
still has some time to go in its 60 day review of Afghanistan policy, which he
noted includes an examination of military force structure.
In a step to
encourage bipartisan cooperation when Congress assesses expected Obama
administration decisions, Speaker Pelosi announced a series of closed-door
briefings for Democrats and Republicans.
These classified meetings would
be held in the House [of Representatives] chamber and involve Defense Secretary
Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other top administration