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Words From Washington

Throughout the past year, I have been working on issues critical to Central Washington communities - supporting our farm-based economy, finding water solutions for the Columbia and Yakima Basins, moving Hanford clean-up forward and a host of other local issues.

This week, however, I want to take an opportunity to discuss an issue that impacts every American - Afghanistan and its impact on our security. After all, the defense of our nation from foreign terrorists is the very reason the federal government was created.

On Sept. 11, 2001, an organization unknown to most Americans at the time, al-Qaeda, attacked our country and murdered thousands of innocent people. With strong bipartisan support in Congress, our brave American soldiers went into Afghanistan, a country on the other side of the world whose radical Islamic government, the Taliban, provided safe haven for international terrorists. Our brave soldiers removed the Taliban from power and took out many al-Qaeda leaders. The troops have since been bolstered by a strong NATO presence, helping to fight terrorists, keep the peace and rebuild the nation.

The fight for a stable and secure Afghanistan is not over, however, and the past several years have seen many problems arise that threaten long-term security in the region.

Without question, the most important consideration in Afghanistan is for the global community to see a self-sustaining government there, a proposal that is critical to improving security here at home. In order to succeed, Afghans must step up and take responsibility for their own security, but at this point they cannot do so without our help.

What our American generals in Afghanistan are telling President Obama and Congress is that the United States and NATO will need to devise a new strategy for success, one that likely involves additional troops on the ground.

Like all Americans, I want to see our men and women in uniform return home safely. I agree with our military leaders that losing the battle in Afghanistan would provide a sanctuary for terrorists and have serious consequences for U.S. security.

Our path forward in Afghanistan must be based on what military leaders determine is necessary - not politics.

- Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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