It is hard to find people who are optimistic about the war effort in Afghanistan. But Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns is now one after making a trip to the war-ravaged country, even during a particularly gruesome weekend.
He appeared on The Takeaway on WNYC this morning and said that despite reports to the contrary, the Afghans want a U.S. presence there:
The attitude of the young people in Afghanistan–when they us saw us they immediately threw up their thumbs and they were like, “Welcome, thank you”. And they were excited about our being there.
Last month Towns voted against funding the war effort. But on the radio this morning Towns said that a reason to stay was that the coalition forces were growing:
In comparing the Iraq situation with Afghanistan, how these various countries are involved with us, it’s a coalition, really, a true coalition effort in Afghanistan, and I was encouraged by that. And of course the sophistication and the training that is going on with our troops is just something that I’m really really proud of. But I think the thing I really want to stress is how all these other countries are in there on the ground doing things and they are all working together.
That answer surprised the show’s hosts, who noted that the Dutch have already left the country, and that other countries were vowing to do the same, and that the U.S could very soon be the only nation with troops still over there. Responded Towns:
When there is talk of some pulling out there is also some talking about getting further involved. When you talk about one group pulling out, you have the Koreans talking about getting more involved. I think that that’s something that is very very important. So you have some talking about pulling out and you have others talking about getting more involved, so I think that cancels itself out.
Towns also said that he thought the corruption that the Hamid Karzai government has been accused of was gradually getting under control. The hosts then asked Towns what he would say to his Brooklyn constituents who are facing serious budget cutbacks at home as the government sends more and more money to fund the war effort. Said Towns:
At this point in time, after looking and seeing what’s happening, I think Obama is right, that we should stay the course. I think that Petraeus is the kind of person that has the ability to provide the leadership that we need. And I don’t want to stay there forever, but I see based on the movement and based on what I saw that there is progress really being made.