Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) used some of Hillary Clinton’s talking points from the primary to point out that Barack Obama has not called a single oversight hearing on the Subcommittee for European Affairs that he chairs. That committee oversees NATO, which means Obama has some power over the war in Afghanistan that employs mainly NATO troops. According to a Clinton memo released last February, â€œGiven the opportunity to take the reins of leadership and shape two critical areas of U.S. foreign policy â€” Afghanistan and our alliances in Europe â€” Senator Obama has done next to nothing. But by his own admission, he was too busy running for President to conduct a single substantive hearing of the committee he chairsâ€ DeMint, who is also on the Subcommittee for European Affairs, wants to hold a meeting and has written a letter to the chairman, Obama, requesting a meeting after Obama returns from his foreign travels. Here is the letter from Senator Demint to Obama;
Subcommittee on European Affairs
Committee on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Obama,
In the coming days, I understand you will travel to Afghanistan for the first time and visit with a few of our European partners. Like my travels to these regions, I trust this trip will afford you a unique opportunity to see the facts on the ground firsthand and witness the work of our brave men and women who sacrifice so much to secure our freedom.
In February, I had the privilege of visiting and talking with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave Americans serve their country with incredible passion, pride and courage. As you know, NATOâ€™s International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) plays an integral part in the current operations and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
There are concerns about the imbalance between some European nations, their level of commitment to the fight in Afghanistan, and caveats these nations place on their forces in theater. I trust you will become well acquainted with these issues. The Bush Administration has worked hard to maintain and increase the level of forces our European allies have committed to the fight.
However, despite these successes, I am concerned our Subcommittee has not held any hearings on these issues over the last two years. With oversight of NATO relations and its role in Afghanistan, I believe it is time for us to focus closely on these issues. As Ranking Member of your Subcommittee on European Affairs, I would welcome a chance to hold a hearing on NATOâ€™s mission in Afghanistan upon your return.
The success of Afghanistan is critical to the future of NATO and vital to our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban. As the situation in Afghanistan grows more tense, it is time for us to hold a hearing on the mission there. I look forward to working with you to schedule this hearing.