Eighth District Congressman Rep. Jim Oberstar and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken weighed in with reactions to President Barak Obama’s Afghanistan speech, Tuesday night.
"This was President Obama’s most poignant and forceful speech to date,” said Rep. Oberstar. “He made a strong, intellectual case for expanding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, stating clearly what the augmented force will do.”
Oberstar said he was impressed with the inclusion of a timetable for withdrawal rather than listing a set of conditions. “But,” Oberstar added, “he didn’t say how we will pay for it, and because of that I will have to reserve judgment until we see what specific requests he will make to Congress and what the true cost will be to the American people.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar said Obama laid out a defined strategy and mission for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “However,” she said, “I remain concerned about the ability of the Afghan government to rid itself of corruption, govern effectively, and act as a credible partner in the fight against the Taliban.”
Klobuchar wants to hear from Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, General McChrystal, and other military and diplomatic officials on how this strategy will prevent Afghanistan from serving as a base for terrorism. She said she was also concerned about the specific resources that will be necessary to carry out the mission, and the additional costs that it will require.
Senator Al Franken said, “Franni and I have been to the funerals of thirteen service members from Minnesota in the short time I’ve been in office.” He added that he has been following the administration’s approach and is pleased the President has deliberated his options carefully.
“I will be closely examining the new strategy in the days and weeks ahead,” said Franken. “I go into that examination, quite frankly, skeptical about a strategy that involves a significant increase in the number of American troops. That is in no small part because I am deeply skeptical of the Afghan government.”
Franken said he needs to be convinced of the reliability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan as partners in the mission. He too, is concerned about financing the effort.