Lawmakers called for a reduced U.S. role in Afghanistan on Wednesday, piling pressure on the Obama administration to accelerate the end to a long, costly war as it debates an initial drawdown this summer.
Leading senators from both parties called the U.S. presence in Afghanistan excessive after nearly a decade of war as they considered President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. mission in Kabul.
"While the United States has genuine national security interests in Afghanistan, our current commitment in troops and dollars is neither proportional to our interests nor sustainable," said Democrat John Kerry
, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee
Lawmakers expressed concern about the durability of soldiers' successes in southern Afghanistan
and noted that attacks had surged along the eastern border with Pakistan
"Despite ten years of investment ... we remain in a cycle that produces relative progress but fails to deliver a secure political or military resolution," said Senator Richard Lugar
, the committee's ranking Republican.
"The more important question is whether we have an efficient strategy for protecting our vital interests that does not involve massive open-ended expenditures and does not require us to have more faith than is justified in Afghan institutions."
After the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, congressional opposition has quickly grown to a war that now costs over $110 billion a year and has yet to yield decisive results on the battlefield or in marathon aid efforts