By Russell Berman and John T. Bennett - 03/17/11 04:43 PM EDT
As the House prepares to vote Thursday on a resolution to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, the military is warning of calamitous effects if the measure passes.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), directs the president to remove all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. It came to the House floor under an expedited procedure allowed by the War Powers Act.
“The Taliban and al Qaeda obviously would trumpet this as a victory, as a success" if the House approves it, Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. "Needless to say, it would completely undermine everything our troopers have fought so much for and sacrificed so much for.”
The general said the measure would essentially "close the door on the very, very hard-fought effort and end a mission that I think is seeking to achieve a very, very important security objective of our country as well as of our allies."
The measure is not expected to pass, but it will offer a glimpse at congressional support for a war that has dragged on for nearly a decade. It comes four months before a July benchmark when the Obama administration has said it will begin withdrawing U.S. troops. And it will provide the first test of support for the war among the new Tea Party-aligned Republican freshmen.
In the early debate on the House floor, Republican Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (Utah) joined liberal Democrats in arguing in favor of the resolution.
Chaffetz, who is considering a Senate bid in 2012, criticized the president’s strategy and said if the U.S. went to war, it should only go “all in.”
“A politically correct war is a lost war,” Chaffetz said. “At the present time, we are playing politics.”
While Chaffetz argued for the resolution, anti-war activists shouted from the House gallery, “End the occupation!” They were escorted out of the chamber.