Senator Chris Coons of Delaware is calling for a substantial withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan, accompanied by a more targeted counterterrorism strategy.
Coons, a first-term Democrat, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He calls the current strategy in Afghanistan “unsustainable.”
Coons says he supports a substantial drawdown of forces from Afghanistan, but urges President Obama to make that the beginning of a strategy that balances US commitments there with emerging threats in Yemen, Somalia, Iran and Pakistan.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that the size of the investment required for us to continue on a path of this counter-insurgency strategy isn’t justified by the size of the threat in Afghanistan,” Coons says. “I’m not advocating for a quick withdrawal or a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. If anything, this different strategy might very well lead us to be engaged in Afghanistan longer – as long as it takes to hunt down and kill or capture those who are determined to do America harm.
Coons sees developing risks in other nations need greater attention.
“We have made real progress in killing or capturing key al-Qaeda fighters and leaders in Pakistan, yet it remains the most dangerous and challenging country in the region, hedging against the United States by supporting insurgents in Afghanistan and providing safe haven to militants,” Coons says in an op-ed that appeared in the Wilmington News-Journal. “Though America has never shied away from taking the steps necessary to ensure its national security, our current path in Afghanistan is unsustainable and is undermining our ability to respond to other emerging global threats.”
Coons visited Afghanistan and met with top leaders and field commanders in the region in February.
“What I saw was a country where nation-building is a very, very steep climb,” Coons tells Newsworks.org. “It is so rugged, so remote, so underdeveloped, so illiterate, and our partners so broadly corrupt that building a modern nation is going to take a long time.”