October 27, 2013

Barney Frank: We should bring our troops and money home from Afghanistan

Secretary of State John Kerry’s considerable skills can be used elsewhere.

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Since George Bush became president in 2001, the major increase in our expenditures has been in the military budget, not in money we give for older people to be able to meet their expenses or pay their medical bills.

I was pleased by the reaction of the American people against intervention in Syria, even though I thought the president was right to push for a one-time punishment of Assad for the use of chemical weapons.

But given this rejection of large-scale military intervention into the troubled internal affairs of countries that are foreign to us culturally, religiously and economically, the time has come to take the logical next step: substantially reduce the military establishment we have maintained for that purpose. I want America to be the strongest nation in the world, and I want us to have the capacity to fight terrorism, but the military buildup that George Bush began is far beyond what any rational view of America’s security needs can justify.

There are other important causes on which Kerry can expend his considerable skill. He has already taken the lead in bringing about an Israeli-Palestinian peace, with more progress than many thought possible, and I am proud that the sanctions that started in the committee I chaired give him an opening in negotiations with Iran.

If and when Karzai raises some predictable objections to the tentative agreement that he and Kerry made, I urge my old friend to accept the impossibility of achieving what we have set for ourselves to do in Afghanistan. Let’s bring our troops and money home, and use Kerry’s great energy and talent in better causes.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

Twitter: @BarneyFrank 

– Special to the Telegram

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