6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

A Conversation with Congressman Adam Kinzinger: The Way Forward for America’s Longest War

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Nearly 16 years after U.S. troops entered Afghanistan, the country faces a raft of major security challenges. The Taliban insurgency, which now controls more territory than at any time since 2001, has never been stronger. ISIS has developed a presence, while al-Qaeda remains resilient. Afghan security forces, while much improved, have struggled mightily to manage these threats despite continued U.S. assistance.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, offered his thoughts on the war in Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism and how U.S. policy can best address both.

Key Quotes:

Jane Harman:

"Weariness is understandable when we continue asking ourselves the question, ‘What will constitute a true endpoint to this war and how do we get there?’”

 “If you ask anyone who’s watching the situation in Afghanistan, [they’ll tell you that] the stakes remain extremely high for the United States, and there are worrying signs.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger:

“United States favorability in Afghanistan is around 70 or 80 percent… When [people] hear it’s 70 or 80 percent, they realize in Afghanistan, for the most part, we have a partner that wants to work with us to bring stability – but there’s huge challenges.”

“When we sent the message that we were going to rescind the troop [numbers] to 5,000, and eventually, basically [to] an embassy presence, I think it sent the wrong message to the Taliban, to al-Qaeda, and to other groups in Afghanistan. The message was ‘You can out-wait us.’”

“When you have a commitment, an enduring commitment to a nation for 16 years, and you have an administration right now that’s pondering putting even more troops in… If you’re the Taliban, if you’re al-Qaeda, if you’re ISIS, I’d be scratching my head and saying, ‘Wow, these guys aren’t going to quit.’”

“It’s those 7- and 8-year-olds in the refugee camps right now that are not getting educated, that are not learning how read or write, that are not learning about the broader world out there, who are far more likely to be the fertile recruiting ground for the next generation of ISIS or al-Qaeda.”

“We need to get back to some real tough love with Pakistan... I hope that as the president’s discussing his Afghan strategy, Pakistan really comes into play there.”

“I think we need to be expanding our mission [in Afghanistan]. I think it needs to be more in bed with the ANA.  I think there need to be more military strikes and looser rules of engagement. I think our NATO partners need looser rules of engagement, too.” 

“Spending money on USAID, the Wilson Center, IRI, and NDI is a lot cheaper than a 500-pound, laser-guided bomb. I think that’s important to know.”

 

05-25-2017 A Conversation with Congressman Adam Kinzinger

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