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Gohmert: U.S. hurting own interests supporting Karzai

By Glenn Evans
April 25, 2012 at 11 p.m.

An entrenched U.S. foreign policy born in the Bush years is harming America's best allies in Afghanistan, an East Texas congressman says after meeting with Afghan fighters this past weekend.

"I know the Obama administration was concerned our meeting might screw up their attempts to throw our Northern Alliance allies under the bus," Louis Gohmert said, citing the fighters who helped America oust the Taliban from Afghanistan in the immediate wake of 9/11.

Gohmert, R-Tyler, traveled to Afghanistan this past weekend with U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Madeleine Z. Bordallo, D-Guam, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

The Taliban that harbored Osama bin Laden as he nurtured the al-Qaida movement and plotted the attacks on the United States has gained power. The U.S. also has pegged its support on a centralized government under Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The United States is set to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Gohmert said Bush administration officials believed a centralized Afghan government would be simpler to deal with.

"What's happened is just the opposite," Gohmert said. "It marginalized the tribal groups of the region that were opposed to the Taliban coming back. They've actually, in my opinion, hurt the effort of stopping the Taliban in the future."

President Barack Obama's administration hopes to revive stalled talks between Karzai and the Taliban.

Gohmert said continued support for Karzai is support for the Taliban by default.

"If we placate the Taliban, give them power - and they've shown no indication they are going to give up their murderous ways - then we'll be back in five years," Gohmert said.

<strong>The Afghan trip</strong>

The congressional delegation started the fast weekend trip meeting with Texas Marines at Camp Leatherneck.

"They're doing great," he said. "But, what some of them confide is it's really tough serving over here when you know there's an end date and we're pulling out and the Taliban is out there saying, 'We understand we can't beat you militarily, we can't beat you in battle. But, in order to win this war all we've got to do is be here when you leave.' "

While Gohmert remains as red as pretty much any Republican, he doesn't lay his complaint solely on Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"She came on as secretary of state after those things had already been decided by the previous administration," he said. "Both Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta have been very gracious and very nice in considering our comments."

Once inside Afghanistan, the delegation was taken to the compound of Ahmad Zia Massoud, the country's former vice president and brother of assassinated anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The late Massoud is a hero among Taliban fighters, Gohmert said. A noted Afghan leader in the country's war with invading Russia, Shah Massoud was assassinated two days before 9/11.

"These are friends and enemies of our enemy," Gohmert said.

<strong>Resolutions and action</strong>

The congressional members support a resolution, in the House subcommittee on oversight and investigations chaired by Rohrabacher, that expresses support for Afghans to elect their own governors and local leadership. Karzai now controls that process.

"We had gotten that (resolution idea) from our meetings with the National Front leaders in the past - that, 'If we could elect our own regional governors, we could be more effective in keeping out the Taliban when you leave,' " Gohmert said.

Karzai is more interested in working with the Taliban than the Northern Alliance or National Front, Gohmer said.

"They're Muslims, but they're moderates. They don't want to destroy the United States. They want to live in peace, and they don't want radicals like the Taliban to come in," he said.

"By strengthening democracy in Afghanistan, and allowing the regions to elect their governors, that will hurt the Taliban in their effort to retake power," Gohmert said.

The congressman also wants to press for larger measures, including establishment of an inspector general to oversee U.S. money being sent to Afghanistan.

<strong>'Not being snowed'</strong>

Gohmert said he is confident in the Afghans he's supporting.

"I know they fought for us," he said. "We have complete accounts of how they fought for us - their bravery, their courage.""I certainly understand the information they provide may not be 100 percent accurate, but the information we've gotten from them in the meetings has been far more reliable than what we've gotten from the administration," Gohmert said.



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