As he mulls how many U.S. troops to pull out of Afghanistan starting next month, President Barack Obama is coming under increasing pressure from Democratic lawmakers and a growing number of Republicans to re-examine his war strategy following Osama bin Laden’s death.
Obama’s nominee to be the new U.S. ambassador to Kabul, veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker, felt the heat on Wednesday. Senate Foreign Relations Committee members of both parties used Crocker’s confirmation hearing to vent frustration with record violence in Afghanistan nearly a decade after the U.S. invasion, and to question the size of the U.S. military contingent and what nearly $19 billion in U.S. aid since 2001 has accomplished.
Before the hearing, the panel’s majority Democrats released a two-year study highly critical of U.S. aid programs. It found that the $320 million now spent each month lacks oversight, has limited impact, is fueling corruption and diverting skilled Afghans into U.S.-funded projects, depriving their government of their talents.
“While the United States has genuine national security interests in Afghanistan, our current commitment in troops and in dollars is neither proportional to our interest nor sustainable,” said the committee chairman, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, who until recently was a key backer of the administration’s policy.
“What we’re doing . . . is not sustainable,” agreed Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.