WASHINGTON Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today the strike on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan raises questions about whether the continuing war in Afghanistan is worth the cost.
“With al Qaeda largely displaced from the country, but franchised in other locations, Afghanistan does not carry a strategic value that justifies 100,000 American troops and a $100 billion per year cost, especially given current fiscal restraints,” Lugar said in his opening statement at a hearing on Afghanistan.
Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the committee, called the death of bin Laden a "seminal moment." Questions about the future US role in Afghanistan are even more relevant now, he said.
"The death of Osama bin Laden is obviously an event with enormous consequence," he said. "It doesn't end the threat, however, but still it is a major victory in the long campaign against terrorism waged by our intelligence agencies and our military."
Lugar added: “Clearly it would not be in our national security interest to have the Taliban take over the government or have Afghanistan reestablished as a terrorist safe haven. But the president has not offered a vision of what success in Afghanistan would entail or how progress toward success would be measured.
"The outcome in Afghanistan when U.S. forces leave will be imperfect, but the president has not defined which imperfections would be tolerable," the senator said.
Farah Stockman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @fstockman.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.