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Posted at 05:15 PM ET, 03/20/2012

Rep. Walter Jones calls China ‘Uncle Chang’

A North Carolina Republican used an impolitic term Tuesday to describe American dependence on China to pay for military operations in Afghanistan.


Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) (washingtonpost.com)
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing with Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) shared his concerns about ongoing operations in Afghanistan.

“What is the metric?” he asked Allen. “What is the event that the administration and General Allen, you, sir, are going to be candid with the United States Congress, and more important than the Congress, the American people, as we are spending $10 billion a month that we can’t even pay for. The Chinese — Uncle Chang is lending us the money to pay that we are spending in Afghanistan.”

Jones continued: “When does the Congress have the testimony that someone will say, we have done all we can do? Bin Laden is dead. There are hundreds of tribes in Afghanistan and everyone has their own mission, talking about the tribes.

“I hope that sometime in between now and 2014, if things are not improving or they — they are fragile like they are now, somebody will come to the Congress and say the military has sacrificed enough; the American people have paid enough; and somebody would shoot straight with the American people and the Congress.”

Allen responded, but made no reference to Jones’s remark: “We are on track,” he said, to have Afghan military forces take the lead. “That’s what we want. That’s what we want success to be in Afghanistan.”

Unsatisfied, Jones interjected: “If we get into 2014 and see that President Obama or a Republican president, and the Afghans are not trained to where they need to be, and we are spending money, we are losing lives, will you be honest with the next administration and say to the next administration, you need to stay to the timetable, because we have done all we can do? You are not going to change history?

“I’ll be honest with that next administration,” Allen said. “I mean, it’s my obligation. It’s my moral obligation to ensure that this force is resourced and that this force is committed into a strategy that I think will work. ... And if I think that’s coming off the rails, congressman, I will let you know that.”

Jones, whose eastern North Carolina district is home to Camp Lejeune and military retirees, is a longtime, outspoken critic of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year he sponsored a measure to quickly withdraw troops from Afghanistan that earned the support of Democrats and 26 GOP colleagues.

Jones’s office did not immediately return requests for further comment.

Here is Jones’s entire exchange with Allen from Tuesday’s hearing:

JONES: Mr. Chairman, thank you so much.

General Allen, for the last three years, a former boss of yours has been advising me on Afghanistan. I cannot say his name, but I will say that he has great respect for you.

I would like to use a couple of the words he has used recently in an e-mail: a brilliant soldier statesman, talking about you, General Allen, and that you are as honest as the day is long.

And I think those qualities, no matter who you are, uniform or out of uniform, you can’t say anything nicer about an individual than that. Over the past 10 years, I have been hearing from the administration and those who were in your position prior to you being in here today the key -- and Dr. Miller, your comments and General Allen’s is what I have been hearing for 10 years.

I mean, everything is our gains are sustainable, but there will be setbacks; we are making progress, but it’s -- it’s fragile and reversible. Well, you know, going to Walter Reid and Bethesda recently, I had a young Marine lance corporal who lost one leg. And he said to me with his mother sitting in the room, “congressman, may I ask you a question?”

“Certainly you may, sir.”

“My question is why are we still there?”

And -- and my -- I look at this e-mail from your former boss -- and I would like to read just a -- a portion of it, “attempting to find a true military and political answer to the problems in Afghanistan would take decades.” Decades, not years. “Would drain our nation of precious resources, with the most precious being our sons and daughters.

“Simply put, the United States cannot solve the Afghan problem, no matter how brave and determined our troops are.”

That gets me to the point that at -- what is the metric? What is the event that the administration and General Allen, you, sir, are going to be candid with the United States Congress, and more important than the Congress, the American people, as we are spending $10 billion a month that we can’t even pay for. The Chinese -- Uncle Chang is lending us the money to pay that we are spending in Afghanistan.

When -- when does the Congress have the testimony that someone will say, we have done all we can do? Bin Laden is dead. There are hundreds of tribes in Afghanistan and everyone has their own mission, talking about the tribes.

I hope that sometime in between now and 2014, if things are not improving or they -- they are fragile like they are now, somebody will come to the Congress and say the military has sacrificed enough; the American people have paid enough; and somebody would shoot straight with the American people and the Congress.

Do you think what type of metric -- I’ll ask you both of you, Dr. Miller and General Allen, what type of metric that you would see that you would come back to Congress and say, our troops have done everything; we can -- we can declare victory now. But there’s one thing we cannot do, and that is change history, because Afghanistan has never changed since they’ve been existing.

And I will I yield to your -- a minute and 41 to you both. Thank you.

ALLEN: I think that’s a very important question. And as you have, I have invited -- visited the wounded in Bethesda as well. There are many of those young troops. as the lance corporal you talked to the other day. who are very, very dedicated to this mission.

They want to see it be successful. They want their sacrifice to have meaning. And I think this campaign is going to give their sacrifice meaning.

We are on track to have the ANSF move to the lead. That’s what we want. That’s what we want success to be in Afghanistan.

JONES: General, if I may interrupt you one moment, if we get into 2014 and see that President Obama or a Republican president, and the Afghans are not trained to where they need to be, and we are spending money, we are losing lives, will you be honest with the next administration and say to the next administration, you need to stay to the timetable, because we have done all we can do?

You are not going to change history?

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: Congressman, I’ll be honest with you now and I’ll be honest with that next administration. I mean, it’s my obligation. It’s my moral obligation to ensure that this force is resourced and that this force is committed into a strategy that I think will work.

And I believe this strategy will work. It’s not about American forces or ISAF forces, even, fighting right to the very end of 2014 and bearing the burden of this campaign. This campaign very clearly envisages that the ANSF will move to the front; the ANSF will have the lead; the ANSF will secure the population of Afghanistan.

And if I think that’s coming off the rails, congressman, I will let you know that.

JONES: Thank you, sir.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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By  |  05:15 PM ET, 03/20/2012

Tags:  Gen. John Allen, Afghanistan, China

 
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