Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) led a bipartisan group of 80 representatives in urging President Obama to make his promised withdrawal in July a significant one. The letter emphasizes the need to take a meaningful step toward ending the war:
Our nation’s economic and national security interests are not served by a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan. At a time of severe economic distress, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States more than $100 billion per year, excluding the long-term costs of care for returning military servicemembers. At the same time, military and intelligence officials agree that Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is diminished and that there will not be a military solution to resolve the current situation. It is simply unsustainable for our nation to maintain a costly, military-first strategy in Afghanistan.
A significant redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 will send a clear signal that the United States does not seek a permanent presence in Afghanistan. This transition will provide incentive for internal stakeholders to improve upon the political status quo, reduce corruption, and take meaningful steps toward the establishment of an effective, trustworthy, and inclusive governance structure. A meaningful start to withdrawal will also empower U.S. diplomatic engagement with regional and global stakeholders who share a common interest in the long-term stability of Afghanistan.
Read the whole letter and see the list of signers here.
Rep. Lee has done a wonderful job spearheading efforts to hold President Obama to his promise to begin a withdrawal and to make sure the milestone marks a real shift toward ending the war. She worked with colleagues in the Democratic National Committee, the organization responsible for electing Democrats next year, to pass a resolution calling for a “significant and sizable” withdrawal this summer.
This is a critical time for every member of Congress and every American to raise his or her voice calling for a clear end to the war. The administration is in the midst of analyzing the situation in Afghanistan and determining how many troops will come home. There are reasons to think they need to be pressured to get something other than a token withdrawal of a small number of troops.
Secretary Gates has continuously downplayed the July withdrawal, calling it a “judo” move to trick the Taliban rather than a real step toward removing US troops. General Petraeus was very cautious in his congressional testimony and said he would be offering “options” on how many troops to withdraw. Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room had this take on the testimony: “Translation: don’t expect many troops to come home from Afghanistan in 2011.” Defense Department officials have repeatedly talked about a US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
Every member of Congress needs to be pressured to speak up and push for a real end to this war. Click here to email your representative and senators and urge them to cosponsor bills to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.