Tester calls on other countries to pitch in as Congress considers war funding

Senator pleased President is ‘rebuilding our alliances’ to share cost of wars

(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester  is calling on other countries to “step up the plate and pitch in” to help the worldwide fight against terrorism, as Congress considers a proposal to keep funding the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This week Tester and his colleagues on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the need to fund both wars.

“I’m pleased President Obama is reaching out and rebuilding our alliances with the world community,” Tester said.  “But that’s just the beginning.  Montanans want us to do our part, but it can’t just be America that does all the fighting and all the paying.”

The United States is already beginning to withdraw troops from Iraq.  President Obama has mobilized 17,000 additional troops for deployment to Afghanistan to participate in operations there.  Forty-thousand U.S. troops are currently serving in Afghanistan, and 140,000 are in Iraq.

Although there are more than 30,000 non-U.S. troops serving alongside American service members in Afghanistan, there are fewer than 10,000 non-U.S. troops in Iraq.  The U.S. funds the vast majority of reconstruction efforts in both countries.

Obama has said he wants to rebuild Afghanistan so that it’s strong enough to keep Al-Qaida from reoccupying the country.  He also wants to train 134,000 Afghan troops—almost double the current number.

Tester believes fighting Al-Qaida should be a worldwide cooperative effort.  Rebuilding America’s alliances with other countries, he said, will help taxpayers share the cost of war.

During an Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday, Secretary Clinton said she supports American diplomacy “powered by partnership, pragmatism, and principle.”

“We are strengthening historic alliances and reaching out to create new ones,” Clinton said.  “And we’re bringing governments, the private sector, and civil society together to find global solutions to global problems.”