Update at bottom: Only 100 Al Qaeda fighters remain in Afghanistan, while number of private Pentagon contractors tops 104,000
In an address to the nation on Tuesday, President Obama declared, "As commander in chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interests to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. ... After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home." For Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), however, if the ultimate goal is to get out of Afghanistan, then the sooner the better.
“Why are we still in Afghanistan?" Kucinich asked on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning. "Al-Qaeda has been routed. Our occupation fuels a Taliban insurgency. The more troops we send, the more resistance we meet."
“The people of Afghanistan don’t want to be saved by us," Kucinich continued. "They want to be saved from us. Our presence and our Predator drones kill countless innocents, creating more US enemies and destabilizing Pakistan."
Kucinich has been expressing opposition to a "surge" in Afghanistan since last spring, regularly insisting that at a time of economic crisis the money being spent on war would be better applied to basic needs back home.
When General Stanley McChrystal asked in September for more troops, Kucinich issued a statement saying, "If the Obama administration is determined to ‘win the war’ in Afghanistan, then we should be prepared for another Vietnam. An unending military commitment is unacceptable to the American people and it should be unacceptable to Congress. If the Obama administration refuses to bring this war to an end, then Congress should use the power of the purse, granted by the Constitution, to end the war and bring our troops home."
"We've played all sides in Afghanistan and all sides want us out," Kucinich concluded on Wednesday. "They don't want our presence, our control, our troops, our drones, our way of life. We're fighting the wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time. What part of "get out" do we not understand?”
UPDATE: $300 MILLION FOR EVERY AL QAEDA MEMBER IN AFGHANISTAN
President Barack Obama made the decision to send some 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan despite being informed that the country is now host to only 100 Al Qaeda fighters, ABC News reports.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNews.com the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.
ABC News estimates that, with the surge included, there will be a ratio of 1,000 US troops for every Al Qaeda member in the country. The cost of the war will work out to $300 million for every Al Qaeda fighter.
And Justin Elliott at TalkingPointsMemo reported Wednesday that the US now has more than 104,000 defense contractors in the country, which exceeds the number of regular troops on the ground, which will be 98,000 after the surge is completed.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast Dec. 2, 2009.