Updated 05/21/2012 06:45 PM
As NATO summit closes, local reps support Obama's Afghanistan plan
As the world focuses on the progress made at this week's NATO summit, members of Congress are also keeping a watchful eye. YNN's Matt Hunter spoke with two local representatives who both support President Obama's plan to end the war in Afghanistan.
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UNITED STATES – While President Barack Obama and other world leaders calmly met inside at this week's NATO summit, hundreds of protesters outside made a much louder and boisterous statement on Chicago's streets.
On Sunday alone, 45 protesters were arrested. In their clash with the crowd, eight Chicago police officers were injured.
The sometimes violent scene was in stark contrast to the images inside the summit, where President Obama urged NATO allies to support his plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next year.
"More Afghans are claiming their communities, Afghan security forces have grown stronger and the transition we agreed to in Lisbon is well underway," President Obama said.
Back home in New York’s Capital Region, Congressmen Paul Tonko and Chris Gibson made a joint appearance in Saratoga Monday afternoon, where both said it's crucial for other nations to support the President's plan and bring a swift end to the war.
"I think that is a regional plan and that will ensure that we accomplish this set of objectives as quickly as possible, in the most responsible manner," Gibson said.
"It [war] has drained us heavily economically and troops wise, so it's important for this President to continue in his efforts, which have been successful," Tonko said.
In the eyes of Congressman Gibson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and 24 year Army veteran, the recent withdrawal of troops from Iraq provides not only blueprint for the plan in Afghanistan, but also a sign that transition of power in that country can also be successful.
"I served there [Iraq], certainly, when it was very difficult and I would tell you that we have completed those objectives and our troops are now home,” Gibson said. “We have the very same approach [in Afghanistan] and our country needs to be united in getting this mission done as rapidly as possible."
As far as the protests in Chicago are concerned, both representatives say they support the right of protesters, so long as they obey the law.
"Obviously it's what our sons and daughters are on the battlefield for and it's a fundamental right that, perhaps, makes us unique in the world," Tonko said.
"We live in a country where you can express your opinion and I fought for that right," Gibson said.
Before the final day of the NATO summit drew to a close, allies accepted the President's plan to end the war by 2014.