The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 1, 2012

Manchin wants Afghan war to end faster

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

Just because he wants American troops pulled out of Afghanistan doesn’t mean Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has turned into a pacifist.

Consistent with his stance within the past year, Manchin helped sponsor a resolution aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, insisting that money invested in combat can best be applied to domestic needs.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic lawmaker said one cannot interpret his resolution to end the war as a sign of becoming a pacifist.

“The senator wants us to go after terrorists wherever they are hiding and stop spending billions to rebuild Afghanistan, especially at a time when we face our own financial challenges,” the aide said.

In his pre-election appearance before The Register-Herald editorial board, Manchin revived the Afghanistan issue and said the troops need to come home.

For much of this year, Manchin has been riveted on the financial crisis the country faces and led a bipartisan panel at the state Capitol that included Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and a former Republican congressman, Alan Simpson of Wyoming.

“It is time to bring our warriors home to a hero’s welcome,” Manchin said in a Senate floor speech late in the week.

In his remarks, the senator pointed out that Americans have been on the ground fully a decade, with more than 2,000 dying in combat while the U.S. spent more than $500 billion there.

“It’s time to focus our resources on rebuilding America, not on rebuilding Afghanistan, and it’s time for the Afghan people to decide their destiny and take responsibility for governing themselves,” Manchin said.

Known as a Sense of the Senate amendment, the resolution cleared on a 62-33 tally.

Some 60,000 sets of boots are still on the ground, with President Obama promising to lower their ranks “at a steady pace” through the end of 2014, the senator said.

“I would prefer a faster pace as long as it didn’t jeopardize the safety of the troops,” he said.

While the amendment supports Obama’s plan, Manchin said he endorsed it since it seeks a speedier transition of security operations from the U.S. to the Afghan Security Forces. The amendment sets as a goal the withdrawal of the Americans next summer.

“It is not binding on President Obama, and it will not affect any negotiations between Washington and Kabul on whether a residual force of U.S. military advisers is in Afghanistan after 2014,” he said.

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