U.S. Senate candidate and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ statement on President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan Plan:
I commend President Obama for taking a long and serious look at all of our options in Afghanistan.Â In a perfect world, our troops would be at home with their families for the holidays, and this war would be over. But we are not dealing with a perfect world; we are dealing with perhaps the most complex, dangerous region in the world – a region from which the attacks of September 11th were launched, and where nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of fanatics and terrorists.
I support the President’s decision as part of a larger military and political strategy to defeat the Taliban insurgency and permanently expel al Qaeda from Afghanistan. This is not, and should not be, an open-ended commitment. Our military presence in Afghanistan shouldÂ be aimed at preventing the Taliban from establishing a base from which to destabilize Pakistan, giving the Afghanis an opportunity to develop a government that works, and training and enabling the Afghanis to secure their own borders and to keep al Qaeda and the Taliban out of the region themselves.
A short-term build-up of troops must be met with a redoubling of our non-military efforts. We need reliable partners both in Kabul and in Islamabad to succeed. The Karzai government has to root out corruption and take concrete steps to deliver a better standard of life for Afghanis and ensure the rights of its citizens, especially those of Afghani women and children. Our allies in Pakistan must work with us to defeat extremists on their side of the border, and deny them safe haven in the border areas.More American troops have lost their lives this year than any to date in this eight-year war. The cost of the war continues to build, in terms of lives lost and funds expended. It is the moral duty of our government to ensure that it demonstrates as much dedication to political solutions as our troops courageously demonstrate to their mission on the battlefield. Ultimately it will be both their valor and our aggressive non-military efforts that will bring them home safe and create a safer world for all.