Hoyer: Bush Administration ‘Turned Tail’ on Afghanistan

Posted December 1, 2009 at 11:47am

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday hit back at former Vice President Dick Cheney for criticizing President Barack Obama for taking his time to lay out a war strategy for Afghanistan.The Bush administration “started something and didn’t finish it, and they left it for this administration to clean up,— Hoyer said, referring to the administration’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan in its search for Osama bin Laden and instead invade Iraq.“Frankly, they turned tail,— Hoyer said. “That’s pretty tough language. But I get angry when I hear Vice President Cheney talk about a job they started but didn’t finish.—Hoyer, a self-described budget hawk, also said he doesn’t support a proposal by Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) to impose a war tax to pay for military operations in Afghanistan. The proposal has the backing of several key Democrats, including Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (Pa.).“I’m not supporting it at this point in time, but I do support his general proposition,— Hoyer said. “I generally am in favor of paying for what we do, but because of the economic crisis that confronts us, that effort is complicated.The idea of a war tax is just one of several issues dividing Democrats over how to proceed in Afghanistan. Liberals remain vehemently opposed to sending any more troops overseas while moderates have reservations about costs. Obama will lay out his new strategy for the conflict in a national address Tuesday night, with plans to call for a troop increase of 34,000 and, according to CNN, a three-year timeline.“Across the spectrum, I think the Caucus is concerned about our failure to succeed in Afghanistan,— Hoyer said. He said many Members are withholding judgment until after Obama’s address and until they hear from key administration officials — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — set to testify to committees Wednesday and Thursday. The Majority Leader said his concern is that other countries may not be playing a big enough role in stabilizing Afghanistan.“This is an important effort,— Hoyer added. “And if it’s an important effort, it is not just the United States’ responsibility; it is the free world’s responsibility. The free world ought to participate in a proportional way.—