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Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for August 2007

At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on legislative activity pertinent to Afghanistan and the region.

As Congress was not in session during the month of August, Afghanistan was not subject to the routine debate and scrutiny. However, a number of important developments occured, both on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail.

Key Senators Ask for an Afghanistan Study Group

Several senators asked the Bush Administration to create a bipartisan Afghanistan Study Group to review strategy and develop recommendations for bringing stability to the country in a letter addressed to General Lute.  Senator John Kerry (D-NY) authored the letter, which was co-signed by Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).  According to the letter, the Afghanistan Study Group must address the following issues:  enhancing reconstruction efforts, implementing civil reforms essential to establishing the rule of law, training Afghan security forces more effectively, reducing corruption, coordinating dozens of international and non-governmental organizations, ensuring full integration of U.S. and ISAF military and intelligence operations, fostering greater cooperation with Pakistan and other countries in the region, guaranteeing that adequate resources and personnel are available, and creating a sustainable counter-narcotics strategy.  The Senators that U.S. success in Afghanistan would be greatly enhanced by convening a bipartisan group of senior officials with relevant experience, along the lines of the Baker-Hamilton Commission for Iraq, to conduct an objective and comprehensive assessment of our overall strategy and make recommendations for the future.  The Defense Committee of the British House of Commons has already completed a similar effort, and its report included several recommendations that warrant serious consideration. The senators stated that they would be willing to take legislative action to facilitate the formation of this study. 

Senator Obama’s Statements on Afghanistan

On August 1, Illinois Senator and 2008 Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, discussed the current situation in Afghanistan at the Woodrow Wilson Center.  He explained that if elected President, he would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan, reinforce U.S. counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban. He stated that European allies must do the same, and without the “burdensome restrictions” that have hampered NATO's efforts. He also noted his commitment to improving the training and equipping of Afghan army and police. The Senator stressed that political, economic, as well as military solutions are needed for success in Afghanistan and that the U.S. should not turn its back on Afghanistan the way that it mistakenly did following the Soviet withdrawal in the 1990’s.  Senator Obama also vowed to increase assistance to Afghanistan by $1 billion dollars.

Joint Statement of Chairman Lantos and Co-Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen on the Revised Counter-Narcotics Strategy in Afghanistan. 


The Chairman and Co-Chairwoman of the House Committee on International Relations issued a joint statement in response to the revised counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan.  Rep. Lantos and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen welcomed the greater use of financial incentives to deter poppy production and appropriate penalties for those who continue to engage in illicit drug trafficking, as well as improving coordination of the anti-planting message.  However, they noted that immediate action is required to eliminate the threat of drug kingpins and cartels allied with terrorists to reverse the adverse affects of the drug trade. 

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