Congressman Adam Schiff shares concerns about Afghanistan with General Petraeus

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) listens to questions during a Town Hall meeting on August 11, 2009 in Alhambra, California.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) listens to questions during a Town Hall meeting on August 11, 2009 in Alhambra, California. John Moore/Getty Images

General David Petreaus arrived in Afghanistan over the weekend to assume command of U.S. forces in that country. Last week, he met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including a Democrat from the Southland.

Congressman Adam Schiff says he told General Petraeus he’s concerned whether the United States can complete its civilian mission in Afghanistan at the same time as its military mission.

Schiff says he has "a lot greater confidence that the military work can be accomplished. The Taliban can be pushed out of these towns, that we can provide security." He says the question is whether we can help the Afghanistan population develop the infrastructure to withstand the Taliban after we leave.

The Democrat from Burbank asks whether the effort to establish the rule of law in Afghanistan is a generational project rather than something that can be accomplished in the timeframe established by the president and Congress.

Schiff says Petraeus was successful in Iraq, where he used a strategy in which U.S. military commanders began small public works projects and hired locals who might otherwise work for al-Qaida. He says the general is "the first to acknowledge that the situation in Afghanistan is very different from the situation in Iraq."

Schiff calls Petraeus "absolutely" the right man for the job. "He’s the best that we can offer." But Schiff adds that may still not be enough.

Last week, several California Democrats – including Loretta Sanchez of Anaheim, and John Garamendi and Barbara Lee of the Bay area – voted to restrict funding for the war in Afghanistan to only what’s necessary for a safe and orderly withdrawal. The House defeated the measure.

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