Valley, Ohio pols weigh in on Trump's Afghanistan plan

YOUNGSTOWN — Democrats criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan with what they say is being done without a plan to transfer power to that nation’s government or a strategy to leave that country.

“The president’s decision to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan in accordance with formal recommendations from the Pentagon is a move that I am hopeful will bolster our national security by stabilizing regions where the Taliban has made significant gains,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th. “But President Trump’s lack of detail and refusal to articulate a strategy for ultimately ending the war in Afghanistan is concerning. The American people deserve to know how President Trump and his administration are going to ensure that open-ended war does not become the norm.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said: “A commitment to ‘win’ is not a clear strategy, and our troops on the ground in Afghanistan deserve more. Let me be clear: we cannot commit more troops and taxpayer dollars to this war until we have a clear exit strategy. This is a reversal from the president’s years of criticizing this war – both as a private citizen and a candidate. [Monday’s] address left us with nothing more than unanswered questions.”

But U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, sees it differently.

“The bottom line is that Afghanistan can never again be a launching pad for radical extremism - too much American blood has been shed over the past 15-plus years to allow that to continue,” he said. “After spending over 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, I know that we can’t win a war while micromanaging from Washington D.C. Our history tells us this. I’m encouraged that President Trump understands that, and that he is going to give our military the tools they need to find and defeat those who wake up every day plotting to kill Americans - no matter where the enemies of freedom try to hide.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, said: “We cannot allow Afghanistan to be used again as a safe haven from which al Qaeda, ISIS, and our terrorist enemies can launch attacks on the U.S. and our allies. To do that we need stable partners in the Afghan government. In the days ahead, I look forward to hearing more from Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis on how the president’s strategy will help us achieve our goals, stabilize the country, and make America safer.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has criticized Trump, a fellow Republican, said of the president’s decision: “After sixteen years, we have lost sight of the United States’ principal goal in becoming engaged in Afghanistan: to prevent the country from being used as a launching pad for terror attacks on the U.S.”

He added: “Sixteen years and the lives of [more than] 2,000 American heroes are more than enough of a price to have paid to eradicate a terrorist sanctuary. America cannot afford to make an open-ended commitment of further lives and treasure to the improbable proposition of building a cohesive nation in Afghanistan.”

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