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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mixed Florida reviews of president's Afghan address



Florida's U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- a Democrat and member of two key Senate committees overseeing the war effort, Intelligence and Armed Services -- had this reaction to President Barack Obama’s announcement on Afghanistan:

"I think the  president has a sensible plan, both short- and- long term, to empower the Afghan people and allow for U.S. troops to complete their mission and come home. The plan will allow 50,000 additional Afghan troops to be trained by next July so they can hold areas that are turned over to them. And our overall mission remains the same: wiping out Al Qaeda and diminishing its supporters, like, Taliban insurgents, while keeping up the pressure in the Pakistan border region."

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando: “Continuing the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq is a terrible mistake. We do not need to have troops 8,000 miles from our shore to keep us safe. I hope the President will re-consider this decision. This is a war that really ended a long time ago. ...

The economy is weak. People are suffering. We've spent more than $10,000 for every man, woman and child in this country, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We can't afford it any more.  We have to stop thinking about the well-being of the Tajiks, the Pashtuns, and the Hazara, and instead take care of ourselves.”

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux: "I am both encouraged and concerned by the President’s remarks on the way forward in Afghanistan. I commend the President for making this difficult decision to increase our troop commitment in Afghanistan. Additional troops are needed to build security and prevent the Taliban and al Qaeda from again using Afghanistan as a base for Terrorism. However, success cannot be measured by a timetable for withdrawal, but rather must be judged by demonstrated accomplishments in the field. Setting a date certain for withdrawal only gives our enemies hope to hold out one day longer than our troops are on the ground."

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor: “I commend President Obama for recognizing the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan and heeding General McChrystal's call for additional troops. Providing our military with additional troops and resources is critical to our long-term national security and will help achieve the goal of denying the Taliban and Al-Qaeda a staging ground for future attacks. My hope is that the extra forces will be utilized in a manner consistent with the strategy outlined by General McChrystal earlier this year. In addition, it is imperative that the Afghan people have confidence in both their new government and American resolve to stabilize the region.

While the Administration must set clear benchmarks for the Afghan government to speed up the training of their own forces, we absolutely should not commit ourselves to artificial time lines which have our brave men and women departing Afghanistan independent of the realities on the ground. Telegraphing when our forces will leave the region emboldens our enemies and compromises the diplomatic and military progress which has been made.”

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers: “Tonight, after several months of delay, President Obama presented his plan for the war in Afghanistan.  While I am disappointed that President Obama is not committing the full number of troops that General McChrystal had requested, I’m encouraged by the President’s announcement today that he is committing approximately 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.  While we all want the President’s strategy to succeed, the American people need to know that he has the resolve to see our mission through to the end.

 “We must not forget why we are in Afghanistan: to eliminate a safe haven for terrorists and protect our national security. Leaving Afghanistan before our mission is completed would destabilize its neighbors, including a nuclear-armed Pakistan, and would undermine our fight in the global war on terror.  That’s why we must listen to our commanders in the field and commit the resources our troops need to defeat al-Qaeda terrorists and Taliban extremists. 

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami: President Obama’s strategic review and subsequent policy decision on Afghanistan puts us on a course for success that we lacked for many years.  The decision to wage a second war in Iraq prevented the completion of the mission in Afghanistan.  As a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly who has traveled to Afghanistan, I know that our mission will be completed with the help of our allies who are also shouldering the heavy burdens of war alongside our military, and these sacrifices and dangers are shared between all of our citizens.  Our success will be realized when terrorists and their accomplices no longer view Afghanistan as a safe haven to plot murderous attacks on innocent civilians."

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville: In March, the President said our fight in Afghanistan was of necessity. I agreed with him.  When he added troops in the spring, I agreed with him.  He has a recommendation from his commanders and he should follow it.  More important than any specific number, is that we give the generals the resources they need to finish the job.   We cannot abandon our allies and friends on the ground. Our first priority must always be to deny the Taliban and al-Qaeda any safe haven.  The United States and NATO forces must send a strong message to Afghanistan and its neighbors that harboring terrorists will not be tolerated.”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:08pm]


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