A leading House Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee warned that as “we’re in maybe the 20th year in our struggle against jihadist violence,” one “would suspect that that’s going to last decades more into the future.”
“Afghanistan is just one of the many battlefields,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) told CNN today when asked if the situation in Afghanistan is falling apart.
Six U.S. service members were killed in a Taliban attack on Monday near Bagram air base when a suicide attacker approached a patrol on a motorbike.
“The United States condemns this cowardly attack on members of the U.S. and Afghan forces, and we remain committed to supporting the Afghan people and their government,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “We will continue to work together to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, just as we will not relent in our mission to counter the threat of terrorism that plagues the region.”
Sherman recommended that U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan, and advised that “we’ve got to be looking at everything from Paris to San Bernardino, from Nigeria to Somalia.”
“If we ignore the Middle East, the Middle East will still not ignore us,” the congressman noted. “We have been dragged into this civil war of — four-way civil war for the future of Islam. And we’ve — even in those areas where we haven’t been involved, ISIS, al-Qaeda have found that by attacking us, they can build their credibility in the Middle East.”
Sherman said he has “slightly more” confidence in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani than in his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, to bring the country under control.
“You look at the Nigerian government, it’s a little better than its predecessor. You look at Somalia, things are a little better. But this has lasted two decades already,” he said.
One of the most vocal Democratic voices in Congress against the Iran nuclear deal, Sherman stressed that “the Shiite alliance, based in Iran, is, perhaps, more dangerous than even ISIS.”
“They’ve killed a lot more civilians. They have killed far more Americans, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even our Marines in Lebanon several decades ago,” he added.
“And as much as we need to focus on getting rid of ISIS, we also need to focus on getting rid of Assad. He — because as long as he’s there, there’s going to be an ISIS. As long as Malaki and his — and the remnants of his regime and ISIS are pressing the Sunnis, if it’s not this ISIS, it’ll be another ISIS.”
“The one advantage of the current approach is that we’ve minimized American casualties. Anybody who promises immediate and painless victory is not going to give us immediate victory. And they are going to dramatically increase our casualties… We can’t have zero casualties. Because even if we had zero casualties in the Middle East, we see San Bernardino. And so, we have to be involved. And as long as we’re involved at a present level in Iraq and Afghanistan, we may have the present level of casualties. This year, we’ve lost only 21, even with this terrible incident in Afghanistan. But we used to lose 21 in a single incident before. And even out of those 21, half have been accidents and half have been caused by the opponents and the enemy.”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has been “pushing to get the Peshmerga the U.S. arms they need,” is “also frustrated with the rules of engagement,” Sherman said. “We have bombing raids but we are trying to have zero civilian casualties.”
“In World War II, we would have lost World War II. I was sitting there with the French ambassador telling me that we had 70,000 Frenchmen who died due to allied bombing. But when the allies arrived at Normandy, they were welcomed with open arms,” the congressman continued.
“Right now, the Iraqi government is providing free electricity to ISIS. If we had the rules of World War II, we would be bombing the electrical facilities that provide electricity to the ISIS-governed areas.”