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Senate Proceeding on Oct 1st, 2009 :: 4:19:15 to 4:33:30
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Carl Levin

4:19:12 to 4:19:32( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: pending. the presiding officer: is there objection? objection is heard. a senator: mr. president? mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin is

Carl Levin

4:19:15 to 4:33:30( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Carl Levin

Carl Levin

4:19:33 to 4:19:54( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: recognized. a senator: the most important question we face concerns our military operations in afghanistan. that's why i filed an amendment which commends the president for focusing on afghanistan and pakistan and developing a comprehensive interagency strategy for the region. it also expresses the sense of the senate that the president should provide congress and the american people with some basic

Carl Levin

4:19:55 to 4:20:15( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: information before he authorizes any potential increase in troop levels in afghanistan. in particular, it urges the president to inform congress how much such an increase could cost, how long he expects it to last, theikelihood that it will have any impact in our ability to confront the al qaeda safe haven in pakistan, and the likelihood that it will actually destabilize one or both countries.

Carl Levin

4:20:16 to 4:20:36( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: i realize that we cannot know these things with absolute certainty, but we should have some idea of the expected costs and duration and likelihood of success or failure before embarking on such a significant undertaking. the president should not send tens of thousands of brave young men and women into harm's way, if he so decides, without first

Carl Levin

4:20:37 to 4:20:57( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: answering these questions, and congress should not support such a decision without first obtaining this information. my amendment, which is nonbinding, does not attempt to pressure the president to make a decision about troop levels. i, for one, am pleased to see that the administration is apparently asking some very tough questions about our afghan strategy. i think it's unfortunate that

Carl Levin

4:20:58 to 4:21:20( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: some, including in this body, have suggested that any delay in respond to go general mcchrystal's request is unacceptable. the stakes are too high for a rush decision, and not oy for the troops who coulde deployed. after eight long years we need to question all of our assumptions and we think our approach from top to bottom. what was possible and desirable

Carl Levin

4:21:21 to 4:21:41( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: five or even two years ago may now be neither. getting afghanistan right has seris implications for our national security and the answers to the questions i raise in my amendment will help us and the people we represent t know whether we have done so. mr. president, eight years ago, i voted in favor of the authorization to use military force against those who planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Carl Levin

4:21:42 to 4:22:04( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: since then, i have remained focused on that goal and have noted with alarm the resiliency of al qaeda's leadership in pakistan and its growing somalia, north africa, and elsewhere. the decision to go to war in iraq was a tragic mistake that undermined our ability to go after al qaeda. that initial mistake was come pounded by flawed thinking as

Carl Levin

4:22:05 to 4:22:27( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: too many people focused narrowly on -- quote -- "getting iraq right" without realizing the key to getting iraq right was to place it in the context, the overall context of a comprehensive global strategy to defeat al qaeda. so, too, we cannot simply focus on getting afghanistan right. we need to make sure that our afghan approach is part of and

Carl Levin

4:22:28 to 4:22:48( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: contributes to that bader strategy i just mentioned. this adminis bigger picture, which is why it has begun to redeploy troops from iraq, although not as quickly as i would prefer. president obama has brought need focus and attention to the afghanistan-pakistan region, but i am concerned that our current and proposed military strategy in afghanistan may play

Carl Levin

4:22:49 to 4:23:10( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: into al qaeda's hands. our current approach has mobilized a tribal network in the afghanistan-pakistan border region that does not share al qaeda's internationalist terrorist agenda, but nonetheless opposes our massive military presence in the region. it has driven people into the arms of the taliban, even while taliban and al remain out of reach in pakistan

Carl Levin

4:23:11 to 4:23:31( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and it risks further destabilizing pakistan, a nuclear armed country where al qaeda is now based. rather than continue down this road, we need a smart, targeted strategy to pursue al qaeda taliban leadership without provoking further mill tan say in both countries.

Carl Levin

4:23:32 to 4:23:52( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: our network is agile. it receives financing from individuals around the world. it has a presence in even the most developed nations. we have expanded ourbility to go after these networks, working with allies and cutting off the flow of funds, chasing off elusive taliban foo afghanistan will not defeat al qaeda. rather, we must use all elements

Carl Levin

4:23:53 to 4:24:13( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: of our national power to target al qaeda without getting bogged down in massive military operations with unrealistic goals and potentially dangerous, unintended consequences. our nation building in a country with foreign interventions and a feckless corrupt national government is at best an experiment and at worst a

Carl Levin

4:24:14 to 4:24:35( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: dangerous distraction. rather than working des for a quick fix to the problems that plague that country, we must acknowledge the limits, mr. president, the limits of our ability afghan society, no matter how many billions of dollars and tens of thousands of troops we may commit to the cause. instead, we should pursue a sustainable -- a civilian-focused strategy to

Carl Levin

4:24:36 to 4:24:56( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: support the emergence of legitimate governance. mr. president, this is the surest way to defeat the taliban in the long term. fortunately, while the decision to go to war in afghanistan was the right one, the military operations are now undermining our ability to help promote such legitimate governments. we have looked the other way when our supposed allies

Carl Levin

4:24:57 to 4:25:17( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: committed human rights abuses, sold drugs or embringsed corruption. as general mcchrystal stated in his assessment, we hav embraced problematic relationships with polarizing and predatory power brokers, including in the afghan national security forces who have -- quote -- been major agents of corruption, unquote. he reported that -- quote -- extortion associated with large-scale development projects

Carl Levin

4:25:18 to 4:25:39( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: undermines the economy in afghanistan. additional, he notes the afghan public perceives the isaf is complicit in the abuse of power corruption. some are calling for rapid increase in the size of afghan security forces. mr. president, without a legitimate functioning national government, a rapid expansion of

Carl Levin

4:25:40 to 4:26:00( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: these forces is likely to promote or provoke further instability. currently the only face of the afghan government in many parts of the cou police beset by corruption. while our current strategy depends on our ability to stop the corruption with the afghan government, no hundred was

Carl Levin

4:26:01 to 4:26:22( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: explained how we can achieve with goal. with the addition of additional u.s. troops and millions of dollars, we did not have the ability to prevent wide scale fraud in the recent presidential election. with the absence of a legitimate local partner, our counterinsurgency goals appear unrealistic. rather than further aligning ourselves with this badly flawed government, we should focus on targeting our aid to those

Carl Levin

4:26:23 to 4:26:45( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: actually working to governance in the rule of law. this does not require a massive milita presence. indeed, attempting to accelerate this process with an increase with u.s. troop levels may well be counterproductive. countries are typically built by their own people over time through the process of a national consensus. this cannot be foreigners, especially when they are active participants in an

Carl Levin

4:26:46 to 4:27:06( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: ongoing war in a country thais highly resistant to foreign occupation, and we cannot afford to link this lengthy and unpredictable process to an open-ended and unsustainable military escalation. general mcchrystal has argued we should significantly increase our military resources in afghanistan for the purpose of -- quote -- ptecting the afghan population. however, he acknowledges that if

Carl Levin

4:27:07 to 4:27:27( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: we endorse his proposal, it is realistic to expect that afghan and coalition casualties will increase. i don't think this makes sense, mr. president. occupying the population centers of southern afghanistan is likely to promote a greater resentment and increase the danger to our troops into the afghan public. a majority of afghans oppe an increase in foreign troops.

Carl Levin

4:27:28 to 4:27:48( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: i want to see foreign troops leave the country within two years. without giving the american afghan people a sense that our military operations will not go on indefinitely, i think we're -- we're unlikely to gain the support needed to accomplish our goals, particularly if we know going in that civilian casualties will only increase in the short term. that's why i have called for a

Carl Levin

4:27:49 to 4:28:09( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: flexible timetable to draw down our troop presence in afghanistan. mr. president, rather than risking more american lives and spending more american dollars in support of an illegitimate partner in afghanistan, we must find a way to relentlessl pursue al qaeda without further destabilizing afghanistan and its nuclear-armed neighbor. our massive open-ended military footprint is not only

Carl Levin

4:28:10 to 4:28:30( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: unnecessary and unlikely to accomplish this goal, it may well be counterproductive. now, some will argue that anything short of a troop escalation means abandoning afghanistan. that same argument was made about iraq, and it's just as phony now as it was then. the question is not about abandoning afghanistan. it is about correctly defing

Carl Levin

4:28:31 to 4:28:51( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and achieving our goals there. unlike iraq, we also hear arguments pointing out that the 9/11 attacks were launched from afghanistan, which is absolutely true, but the leaders of al qaeda and the leaders of the taliban are in pakistan. they are not in afghanistan. we should be concerned about al qaeda potentially re-establishing a safe haven in afghanistan, but we should be

Carl Levin

4:28:52 to 4:29:12( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: even more concerned about al qaeda's current safe haven in pakistan. pakistan is home to a witch's brew of militancy, radical i, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and weak civilian leadership, and getting this country right will be even more challenging. and more important, mr. president, than afghanistan. our primary goal should be to help support the emergence of a civilian government in pakistan

Carl Levin

4:29:13 to 4:29:33( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that is effective, democratic, and a reliable partner. it has been widely reported that elementsf the pakistani security services continue to provide support to militants. our ability to pressure the pakistani security forces to hold these elements accountable is undermined by our focus on military operations in afghanistan, specifically our dependence upon our sup

Carl Levin

4:29:34 to 4:29:55( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: running through pakistan. some have suggested that if we redeploy troops from pakistan, the pakistanis will decide we aren't committed to the region and we will lose that leverage we have over them. we should consider whether drawing down our troops in afghanistan will help enable us to deal with pakistan from a position of strength. the director of national intelligence summarized the

Carl Levin

4:29:56 to 4:30:16( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: depth of this problem earlier this year during his testimony before the senate select committee on intelligence. he stated "no security in the security in pakistan is possible without pakistan improving governance, creating economic and educational opportunities throughout the country. mounting economic hardships and frustration over poor governance have given rise to greater

Carl Levin

4:30:17 to 4:30:37( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: radicalization. islamabad needs to make painful reforms to stability." the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate is scheduled -- mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senator from wiscons allowed three additional minutes

Carl Levin

4:30:38 to 4:30:58( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: to conclude his compelling remarks, which i disagree with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. feingold: well, i certainly want to thank my friend from arizona, including his questionable endorsement of my views. thank you very much. as admiral illustrates, militancy in the regionphrems an incredibly

Carl Levin

4:30:59 to 4:31:20( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: complex set of p which are amenable to a military solution. now that the united states is focused on its relationship with the civilian government in pakistan, after too many years in which we placed all our chips on an unreliable, unpopular and undemocratic strongman, we're finally on the right track. trying to support the emergence of a legitimate government that in the long run is more likely to support our counterterrorism

Carl Levin

4:31:21 to 4:31:42( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: goals and provide the stability that our country needs. progress on that front, however, may well be compromised by our massive presence in afghanistan.. during a recent senate foreign relations committee hearing, former british foreign service officer rory stewart testifie testified -- quote -- "u.s. operations in afghanistan may in fact contribute to the destabilization of pakistan."

Carl Levin

4:31:43 to 4:32:03( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: and special envoy holbrooke and admiral mill len have also acknowledged to me in appearances before the foreign relations committee have that there is a danger that our operations in afghanistan and pakistan will further destabilize it by pushing militants into that country. we must carefully consider the alternatives before we pursue a significant escalation in afghanistan that is not likely

Carl Levin

4:32:04 to 4:32:25( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: to fix the problems or to address the al qaeda flensz pakistan and that could further mr. president, over the last eight years, we have committed tremendous resources in an effort to dramatically rework afghan society. we have doubled or troop levels there over the past expwreerks this year a-- past year, and this year alone, we will spend over $50 billion in that country. this has already become the deadliest year for u.s. troops

Carl Levin

4:32:26 to 4:32:46( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: in afghanistan. rather than doubling down on a strategy with objectives that may well be unachievable, we should focus on relentlessly pursuing al qaeda's network i pakistan and around the world and set realistic goals for providing civilian assistance to legitimate actors within the afghan and pakistani governments. my amendment asks tough questions about any potential military

Carl Levin

4:32:47 to 4:33:07( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: that we carefully consider the costs of the proposed strategy. it's likely -- its likelihood of achieving our counterterrorism goals and of course the potential pitfalls and alternatives. i hope my colleagues will ask themselves these questions as they consider whether to support the underlying bill which funds a military approach in afghanistan that is badly in need of rethinking. i thank the chair, and i, of course, thank the senator from arizona.

Carl Levin

4:33:08 to 4:33:28( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minimum is recognized. mr. franken: ask unanimous consent to put aside the pending amendment and to call up my amendment at the desk number the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. preside? mr. coburn: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: reserving the right to object. the presiding offi senator from oklahoma is

Carl Levin

4:33:29 to 4:33:30( Edit History Discussion )

Carl Levin: recognized. mr. coburn: i have no objection

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