VP debate excerpts – Paul Ryan on Afghanistan

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from Republican nominee Paul Ryan’s remarks on Afghanistan at the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012:

MARTHA RADDATZ: I’d like to move on to Afghanistan please. And that’s one of the biggest expenditures this country has made, in dollars, and more importantly in lives.

We just passed the sad milestone of losing 2,000 U.S. troops there in this war. More than 50 of them were killed this year by the very Afghan forces we are trying to help.

Now, we’ve reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces, we’ve degraded Al Qaida. So tell me, why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?

PAUL RYAN: We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give Al Qaida a safe haven.

We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition.

Look, when I think about Afghanistan, I think about the incredible job that our troops have done. You’ve been there more than the two of us combined. First time I was there in 2002, it was amazing to me what they were facing. When I went to the Ahgandah (ph) Valley in Kandahar before the surge, I sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Monamanee (ph) Indian reservation who would tell me what he did every day, and I was in awe. And to see what they had in front of them.

And then to go back there in December, to go throughout Helmand with the Marines, to see what they had accomplished, it’s nothing short of amazing.

What we don’t want to do is lose the gains we’ve gotten. Now, we’ve disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into accounts the recommendations from our commanders, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, on troop levels throughout this year’s fighting season. We’ve been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they’re shooting at us.

But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful, and that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

MARTHA RADDATZ: What — what conditions could justify staying, Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We don’t want to stay. We want — look, one of my best friends in Janesville, a reservist, is at a forward-operating base in eastern Afghanistan right now. Our wives are best friends. Our daughters are best friends. I want — I want him and all of our troops to come home as soon and safely as possible.

We want to make sure that 2014 is successful. That’s why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don’t want to extend beyond 2014. That’s the point we’re making. You know, if it was just this, I’d feel like we would — we would be able to call this a success, but it’s not. What we are witnessing as we turn on our television screens these days is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Problems are growing at home, but — problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren’t growing here at home.

RADDATZ: Let me go back to this. He says we’re absolutely leaving in 2014. You’re saying that’s not an absolute, but you won’t talk about what conditions would justify…


RYAN: Do you know why we say that?

JOE BIDEN: I’d like to know…


RYAN: Because we don’t want to broadcast to our enemies “put a date on your calendar, wait us out, and then come back.” We want to make sure…


RADDATZ: But you agree with the timeline.

RYAN: We do agree — we do agree with the timeline and the transition, but what we — what any administration will do in 2013 is assess the situation to see how best to complete this timeline. What we do not want to do…

BIDEN: We will leave in 2014.

RYAN: … what we don’t want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less and our enemies more — we don’t want to embolden our enemies to hold and wait out for us and then take over…


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