Thanks for calling your Senators to sign the Merkley-Lee-Udall letter to the President to bring troops home from Afghanistan

Thanks for calling your Senators to sign the Merkley-Lee-Udall letter to the President to bring troops home from Afghanistan.  A significant 27 Senators signed.

While Peace Action wants to see all troops and contractors out of Afghanistan with a year and we don’t agree with every word of this bipartisan Senate letter, the main message is politically important:  urging President Obama for a “sizeable and sustained” reduction in forces from Afghanistan beginning in July.

Peace Action worked hard with others to get the 27 Senators.

The letter was sent Tuesday, June 14th.

Below you’ll find:

1.  The text of the Senate letter with 27 signers

2.  A letter from 25 organizations representing over 30 million voters urging Senators to sign.

3.  A letter from military officials supporting the letter

_______________________________________________

1.  The text of the Senate letter that currently has 27 signers

June X, 2011

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our strong support for a shift in strategy and the beginning of a sizable and sustained reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, beginning in July 2011.

In 2001 the United States rightfully and successfully intervened in Afghanistan with the goals of destroying al Qaeda’s safe haven, removing the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursuing those who planned the September 11 attacks on the United States. Those original goals have been largely met and today, as CIA Director Leon Panetta noted last June, “I think at most, we’re looking at maybe 50 to 100, maybe less” al Qaeda members remaining in Afghanistan.

In addition, over the past few years, U.S. forces have killed or captured dozens of significant al Qaeda leaders. Then, on May 2, 2011, American Special Forces acting under your direction located and killed Osama bin Laden. The death of the founder of al Qaeda is a major blow that further weakens the terrorist organization.

From the initial authorization of military force through your most recent State of the Union speech, combating al Qaeda has always been the rationale for our military presence in Afghanistan. Given our successes, it is the right moment to initiate a sizable and sustained reduction in forces, with the goal of steadily withdrawing all regular combat troops.

There are those who argue that rather than reduce our forces, we should maintain a significant number of troops in order to support a lengthy counter-insurgency and nation building effort. This is misguided. We will never be able to secure and police every town and village in Afghanistan. Nor will we be able to build Afghanistan from the ground up into a Western-style democracy.

Endemic corruption in Afghanistan diverts resources intended to build roads, schools, and clinics, and some of these funds end up in the hands of the insurgents. Appointments of provincial and local officials on the basis of personal alliances and graft leads to deep mistrust by the Afghan population. While it is a laudable objective to attempt to build new civic institutions in Afghanistan, this goal does not justify the loss of American lives or the investment of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Instead of continuing to be embroiled in ancient local and regional conflicts in Afghanistan, we must accelerate the transfer of responsibility for Afghanistan’s development to the Afghan people and their government. We should maintain our capacity to eliminate any new terrorist threats, continue to train the Afghan National Security Forces, and maintain our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. However, these objectives do not require the presence of over 100,000 American troops engaged in intensive combat operations.

Mr. President, according to our own intelligence officials, al Qaeda no longer has a large presence in Afghanistan, and, as the strike against bin Laden demonstrated, we have the capacity to confront our terrorist enemies with a dramatically smaller footprint. The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits. It is time for the United States to shift course in Afghanistan.

We urge you to follow through on the pledge you made to the American people to begin the redeployment of U.S. forces from Afghanistan this summer, and to do so in a manner that is sizable and sustained, and includes combat troops as well as logistical and support forces.

We look forward to working with you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that makes our nation stronger and more secure.

Sincerely,

 

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

_______________________________________________

2.  A letter from 25 organizations representing over 30 million voters urging Senators to sign:

Dear Senate Staff Person,

We, the undersigned 25 organizations representing over 30 million voters, strongly urge Senator XXXXX  to join 27 other Senators and sign this bipartisan letter to President Obama urging a “sizeable and sustained” reduction in forces from Afghanistan beginning in July.

While many of us are calling for a more accelerated transition and may not agree with every word of the letter, it represents a step in the right direction.

It is clearly time to begin the process terminating the United States military engagement from the war in Afghanistan.

Sincerely,

Matthew Hoh

Director

Afghanistan Study Group

Karen Showalter

Executive Director

Americans for Informed Democracy

Robert Borosage and Roger Hickey

Co-Directors

Campaign for America’s Future

William C. Goodfellow

Executive Director

Center for International Policy

Don Kraus

Chief Executive Officer

Citizens for Global Solutions

John Isaacs

Executive Director

Council for a Livable World

Michael Kieschnick

President

CREDO Action

Robert Naiman

Policy Director

Just Foreign Policy

Justin Ruben

Executive Director

MoveOn.org Political Action

Jenefer Ellingston

Delegate

National Green Party

Simone Campbell

Executive Director

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Terry O’Neill

President

National Organization for Women

Jo Comerford

Executive Director

National Priorities Project

Dave Robinson

Executive Director

Pax Christi USA

Paul Kawika Martin

Policy and Political Director

Peace Action

Peter Wilk, MD

Executive Director

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Jean Stokan

Director

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas — Institute Justice Team

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D.

Executive Director

The Fellowship of Reconciliation

James E. Winkler, General Secretary

General Board of Church and Society

The United Methodist Church

Lisa Schirch, PhD

Director

3D Security Initiative

Marylia Kelley

Executive Director

Tri-Valley CAREs

Jeff Blum

Executive Director

USAction

Michael Eisenscher

National Coordinator

U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

Stephen Miles

Coalition Coordinator

Win Without War

Susan Shaer

Executive Director

Women’s Action for New Directions

_______________________________________________

3.  A letter from Military officials supporting the letter:

June 2, 2011

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As former military officers and defense officials, we endorse the Senate letter to the Administration to order a “sizeable and sustained” reduction in troop levels in Afghanistan, beginning in July 2011.

We agree that the United States has successfully deployed its military and intelligence assets to accomplish our stated mission of destroying al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan and degrading the leadership by killing or capturing dozens of significant al Qaeda leaders, culminating in the operation that eliminated Osama bin Laden.

Furthermore, we do not believe it is a top national security interest of our country to utilize our military forces to undertake nation-building activities in an internal Afghan conflict that stretches back to the 1970s.

We congratulate you on the successes achieved by our forces, and urge you to begin a substantial and responsible redeployment of our forces this summer.

Sincerely,

Evelyn Foote, Brig Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)

Robert G. Gard, Jr., Lt. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)

Sam Gardiner, Colonel, USAF (Ret.)

Matthew Hoh, U. S. Marine Corps (Iraq), State Department Officer, (Afghanistan)

John H. Johns, Brig. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)

Lawrence J. Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Captain, U.S. Navy Reserves (Ret.)

Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.)

Paul R. Pillar, Former U.S. Intelligence Officer

James M. Thompson, Lt. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Ann Wright, Colonel, U.S. Army Reserves

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17 Responses to Thanks for calling your Senators to sign the Merkley-Lee-Udall letter to the President to bring troops home from Afghanistan

  1. Patty G. says:

    Called Senator Grassley’s office (Iowa). She promised to pass along my message. Senator Harkin from Iowa has already signed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    One of my senators, M. Bennet, already signed. The other, Mark Udall (D-CO) has not yet signed, but I left a message. Hopefully he will.

  3. diane says:

    So fortunate to have Sen’s Merkley and Wyden as our Oregon senators!
    Dr Diane

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tried to call, but I think they forgot about me and hung up! :-(

  5. I called both of my Oregon senators & was told that they would pass my request on to the senators. I see that both of my senators from Oregon have already signed on. We have two great senators here from Oregon & so glad to have them. Ellen

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was disappointed to see that neither Indiana Senator signed on. I called Senator Lugar’s Washington office to urge him to sign. joan

  7. Anonymous from Seattle says:

    Just spoke with Senator Maria Cantwell’s office. She is signing the letter. Aide in Senator Patty Murray’s office didn’t know whether Sen. Murray will sign but commented that her office has been receiving lots of requests to do so from constituents.

  8. I just left messages at Senators Kerry and Brown. It’s rather late in the day, so I don’t know if either of them will get this message in time for a vote.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I called Senators Kerry and Brown of Mass. Brown (or his aide) was non-commital; Kerry was more supportive, though I don’t believe he has signed.

  10. Florence says:

    I called both Senators Kerry and Brown of MA and got aides,
    in both cases. I expected Senator Kerry to be supportive of
    troop reduction but did not see that he actually did anything
    recently to support it.

    Senator Brown’s aid did not indicate Senator Brown would
    support troop reduction or U.S. leaving Afghanistan.

  11. Carolyn Swanson says:

    Thank you, Washington State Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, for signing the letter supporting troop reduction in Afghanistan. My vote would be to bring all of them home sooner rather than later, from Iraq and Afghanistan. Let us protect our own country and rebuild our infrastructure both in building and in spirit. We need a new direction in this country, back away from empire building and embrace country loving.

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