"Things haven't changed there for 1,000 years," Manchin said. "After 10 years, have we achieved any improvements in literacy and in job training so they can defend themselves? If it hasn't occurred in 10 years, when will it happen?
"How do we play a support role? How do we get a government into a position to take care of themselves?" Manchin asked. "I am not sure we have the full commitment in those countries [to fight terrorism]. The amount of money and the human toll it is taking should be evaluated."
Today, Manchin said, "there is not one mile of railroad in Afghanistan. They are making some efforts to put some roads and infrastructure in one of the most poverty stricken countries I have ever been in.
"They have beautiful little kids and families. But 80 percent of the people cannot read or write. Most of the police force cannot read or write. It is a challenge. We have to re-evaluate our position there."
Manchin noted the U.S. is spending $120 billion this year in Afghanistan and is about to make some very severe budget cuts here at home.
"When you look at all the financial challenges we have as a nation, are we really moving down the right path? How much more sacrifice from the United States will be needed?"
With growing unrest in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other countries, Manchin added, our country must develop a stronger energy policy to become independent of foreign oil.
"We need to convert coal to liquids, use our natural gas and develop wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power. We need to be independent of foreign oil," he said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Manchin formally announced he and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will cosponsor legislation encouraging Congress and the states to ratify a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
"Families balance their budgets and so do states," Manchin stated. "After years of explosive growth and skyrocketing debt, the federal government must also start living within its means. Without a balanced budget amendment, the federal government just spends more than we have, and I believe this step is necessary to rein in our out-of-control spending."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.