"We don't see them stepping up to the plate. The Afghan government needs 40,000 new [military] people every year because people quit and take off. There is no way we can save their country if they don't want a country for themselves."
The Senate resolution, Manchin said, is not trying to tie the hands of Obama or the State Department.
Manchin said he would support the use of U.S. Special Operations troops to make sure al-Qaida does not come back and expand.
Withdrawing from day-to-day combat in Afghanistan will neither weaken our military nor cut back our fight against terrorism, he said.
"But nation-building is not our mind-set. This is not a mission for the American military," Manchin said. "Our mission is to stop and prevent terrorism anywhere it may be breeding, anywhere it raises its ugly head.
"We defeated al-Qaida, We killed Osama bin Laden. We should not keep American lives in jeopardy and spend resources we don't have. We are borrowing money for Afghanistan that we should be investing in America."
Manchin has enduring images in his mind from his first trip to Afghanistan 2006.
"The biggest impression I had was seeing all these little girls -- 5- to 6-, 10- to 12- or 14- to 15-year-olds -- wearing scarves on their heads, walking through war zones to go to school. Now they forbid them to go to school.
"Homes are made out of mud. Boundary lines are made out of mud fences. The only crop being raised was poppies, used for opium and drugs. Yet we have sunk over half a trillion dollars into that war."
Manchin believes the war against terrorists will "never end in our lifetimes, in our children's lifetimes or in our grandchildren's lifetimes. But we can't get bogged down in every country where there is a terrorist."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.