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Vermont Delegation Reacts to Troop Surge in Afghanistan


Published December 2, 2009 at 12:15 p.m.

Shortly after President Barack Obama officially announced his plan to add 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Vermont's three-member Washington delegation weighed in.

The trio mostly expressed concern about spending billions of dollars to fight a war in Afghanistan without much, if any, support from other nations while there is a recession here at home. They also fretted about being stuck in a quagmire. None called for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

“For me it boils down to whether or not there is a convincing answerto this question: What can realistically be achieved, and is it worthputting our soldiers’ lives on the line, at a million dollars a troop,as our economy continues to struggle here at home?" queried Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). "At this point I am not convinced that the hole dug earlier by a thousand bad decisions can be paved over at all.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he had "serious concerns" about the proposal, including cost, not having the support of other nations, and working with a corrupt partner in the Afghanistan government.

“I agree with President Obama that it would be a setback fordemocracy and stability if the Taliban regained power," said Sanders. “My nightmare is that we may get caught in a quagmire situation from which there will be no successful exit.”

Similarly, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said he agreed with Pres. Obama's analysis of the situation, but added that the president had "reached the wrong conclusion." He also said the plan is not financially sustainable.

“The cost ofsupporting one soldier for one year is $1 million – or $30 billion peryear for the 30,000 new troops recommended tonight by the president," said Welch."Our nation is crippled by record deficits and skyrocketingunemployment. We need to spend our scarce resources rebuilding America,not nation-building abroad.”

Posted below are the official responses from each member of the delegation, but first are selected excerpts from the president's speech provided by the White House.

What's your take on Obama's plan for Afghanistan? Is it time, as Sen. George Aiken (D-VT) once famously told Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson in regard to Vietnam, to "declare victory and get out"? Or do you support Pres. Obama's troop surge plan?