STATEMENT Why Rep. Polis voted no on Afghan war funding

WASHINGTON, May 14 -- Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) issued the following statement today on voting against H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009:

The Defense Supplemental funds a number of worthy and important projects, including international humanitarian assistance for refugees and medical assistance for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. I applaud my colleagues, Chairman Obey in particular, for addressing these priorities.

Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill cannot hide its underlying premise-funding a misguided war in Iraq and Afghanistan--a policy that I believe must be changed.

At its heart, this bill is about increasing and prolonging U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, which I do not support. I recently traveled to both Iraq and Afghanistan and saw first-hand the very real challenges that our presence creates.

Let's be clear. President Obama inherited two wars and I know he is committed to ending both responsibly. I, however, do not believe there can be a military solution to the conflict and therefore cannot support this bill.

The occupation of Afghanistan will not help us defeat the very real threat of Al Qaeda. Although I am especially encouraged by the 'diplomatic surge' and Special Forces´efforts to defeat the threat of Al Qaeda, our resources could be better spent on diplomacy and targeted security operations, rather than continued occupation.

I strongly support President Obama and his efforts to end our presence in Iraq. I believe that the best way to support the President is for me to use my vote to help force a discussion about our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan, and for that reason I am voting no.

We cannot achieve peace through the occupation of an entire country. We tried and failed in Iraq, and we cannot afford to do so again.

We need a fresh look at our policy in Afghanistan, and this can only come through open discussion and debate. My action today is not a vote against our military or a vote against our President, but an urgent call for an exit strategy for Afghanistan and a plan for peace and security.