The idea of a longer-term commitment in Afghanistan is being greeted skeptically by President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats in Iowa.
“I have serious concerns about that,” Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said while in Davenport on Wednesday.
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Loebsack said U.S. security needs will continue to necessitate operations in foreign countries, including perhaps Afghanistan. But he said he needs to see more detail before making a judgment.
“The question is going to be the level of resources we commit to Afghanistan from 2014 to 2024,” he said.
The president, in an address to the American people from Afghanistan on Tuesday, began to draw the curtain on the combat role that the United States has in Afghanistan. U.S. troops are scheduled to leave the country by 2014. But the president also signed a security agreement with Afghanistan pledging an ongoing U.S. support role after 2014.
The pact envisions involvement in Afghanistan’s economic and security affairs for a decade and provides the United States a security foothold in the country as it seeks to keep an eye on Iran and remain prepared for Taliban resistance.
After a decade of war, however, support for continued efforts there is low, according to polls.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, said the major missions have been accomplished there. He noted that Osama bin Laden is dead and said al-Qaida is marginalized and the Afghan government stable.
“At some point, the Afghanis need to take control of their country’s own future,” Braley said in a statement. “I believe that point is now — not two, 10 or 20 years from now. We’ve already been in Afghanistan for more than a decade. It’s time to focus on strengthening America here at home.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also addressed the speech with radio reporters Wednesday. He said his “only qualm” was being too detailed about U.S. military plans. But he also raised concern that the president might be leaving the impression the “war on terror” is over. He said that began with the attack on Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“Ever since ’72, we’ve been in a war on terror. The only thing is we didn’t realize it until 9/11,” Grassley said. “The only thing the president announced yesterday is the phases in Iraq and Afghanistan are soon over, but if the president is leaving the impression the war on terror is over, he’s misleading the American people.”
Grassley did not mention whether he had any concerns about a longer-term presence in Afghanistan.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)