In the News
Sunshine State News By Kevin Derby
Members of the Florida congressional delegation weighed in after President Donald Trump spoke to the nation on Monday about a new strategy in Afghanistan where the U.S. has been engaged in military operations for 16 years.
Trump opened the door to sending in more troops into the longest war in American history. He also called for more focus on taking out terrorists instead of nation building and having allies, including India, shoulder more of the burden in Afghanistan.
From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., backed Trump‘s new plan.
“I commend President Trump and his administration for crafting a new strategy for victory in Afghanistan and South Asia that will be based on conditions on the ground, rather than on politics or arbitrary timetables,” Rubio said. “The United States should never again allow a terrorist safe haven to develop in Afghanistan from which terrorist networks can plot attacks directly against the American homeland and our interests abroad.
"Our nation's longest war has been costly in terms of human lives and national treasure, and too many mistakes have been made by both Republican and Democratic administrations,” Rubio added. “Nonetheless, the United States cannot afford to abandon this fight as it relates directly to the heinous terrorist attacks against our nation nearly 16 years ago. Ensuring a stable and functional Afghanistan is in the direct national security interest of the United States and the right thing to do for the American people, the Afghan people, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in this war."
Other Republicans from Florida, including U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, also applauded Trump’s speech.
“President Trump was clear: new strategy, new goals,” Dunn insisted. “We will win. Our new goal: to kill our enemies. We will give our troops the tools and rules to win. We fight for America and to keep us safe, to stop terrorism from reaching our shores, not to rebuild other countries. They must take responsibility for their own future. The Afghanistan people, and others in the region, are on notice that this is their fight, and we will support them, but they must take the charge up this hill, not us.”
Democrats from Florida were far more critical, including U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who leads his party on the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. Deutch has often worked with Republicans on international issues, including being one of the leading Democrats to break with then President Barack Obama over his nuclear deal with Iran, but the South Florida congressman called on Trump to work with Congress and get a new congressional authorization to continue military operations in Afghanistan.
"After 16 years of fighting and nearly 2,400 American lives lost, the American people have every right to question sending more U.S. forces into Afghanistan. No one wants to see more American lives lost to a never-ending war,” Deutch said. "When it comes to sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the president's new strategy appears to be not to reveal any strategy. Congress and the American people deserve more information, particularly if more U.S. service members are being sent overseas. The president spoke of 'expanded authority' and the 'lifting of restrictions.' While we have great trust in our military leaders and the brave men and women serving in the armed forces, Congress will not continue to fund a war based off tonight's speech. We need specifics, including troop levels.
"We are still waging the war in Afghanistan under a congressional authorization that was passed in the wake of 9/11,” Deutch added. “As the president made clear, the threats have evolved. We share the president's commitment to fighting terrorism, but it is clear after tonight that Congress must immediately begin consideration of a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, and the president should provide us with the information necessary to act in the best interest of the American people."
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., was far harsher in his assessment of Trump’s speech.
“Trump's vision of endless war in Afghanistan with more troops will not make America great again,” Soto posted on Twitter.