The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Murtha Calls for a Clear Afghanistan Strategy

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 12/10/2008 10:03
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Amandeep Coleman

So here I was, ready to dutifully report on Pentagon spending priorities at the rollout for the Center for American Progress’ new military-strategy paper. Then Jack Murtha had to talk about Afghanistan.

Murtha, of course, is the powerful Democratic Pennsylvania congressman who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, as well as being the first Vietnam veteran elected to Congress. He became an unlikely progressive hero in 2005 when he demanded the Bush administration produce a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. Now it seems he’s reaching the point where he might do so for Afghanistan as well.

The Obama administration should start “developing an achievable strategy for Afghanistan,” Murtha said at the CAP event this afternoon. “That’s the key point: achievable.” Murtha ran through the litany of foreign military defeats in Afghanistan since 1834, saying he’s been reading “nine books” on the subject, and remarking on his meetings with the Soviet-invasion-era muhajideen in Pakistan in the 1980s. “We’re facing very different [forces] in Afghanistan, a very different culture in Afghanistan than in Iraq.” He worried about sending four brigade combat teams to the country next year “without a plan.”

Murtha stopped well short of calling for a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. But if the U.S. is going to remain without a clear strategic goal in south Asia, calls for withdrawal — understandably — will be a short logical step away. Sam Stein reported in the Huffington Post on Tuesday that the left is starting to grow agitated about a troop buildup in Afghanistan without defined strategic goals. Add Murtha as another example.

Amandeep Coleman | Amandeep had never known a moment when she wasn't reading or making up stories, having been born into a family of readers. She took out a pencil and notebook during the now-famous blizzard and started writing down one of those stories. It was there that I began my professional life. Her first book was written after several rejections and manuscripts. She is a member of many writers' organizations and has received several accolades from her peers and the publishing industry. The New Yorker recently dubbed her "America's favorite novelist".

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