Yesterday, the House voted on Reps. Kucinich and Jones’ resolution that would have directed the president to remove all US troops from Afghanistan within 30 days, and if that was deemed unsafe, by the end of 2011.
The bill gave war opponents in the House another opportunity to draw attention to the failing strategy and to highlight growing public opposition to the war. Rep. Farr (D-CA) summed it up effectively when he took to the floor in support of the resolution:
As many of my colleagues demand $100 billion spending cuts, they need look no further than our reckless war spending. For the good of our troops and the health of our economy, this war must end.
And this viewpoint is shared across the nation. According to a recent Washington Post poll, nearly two-thirds of the American people support an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Mr. Speaker, our job in this chamber is to represent our constituents, and they have spoken loud and clear. The American people are fed up with a war that has done little to improve our national security or bolster our international standing. Furthermore, after nearly ten years of fighting, it is crystal clear that the problem in Afghanistan cannot be solved by military means alone. Stabilization and reconstruction, governance, and peace-building activities can help to stabilize states, promote rule of law, and bring enduring peace at a sliver of the cost we pay for troops on the ground.
In the end, 93 representatives voted in favor of the bill. While we would have preferred a majority, it’s important to keep in mind that at this time last year, only 65 representatives voted in favor of a nearly identical bill. That’s significant growth, especially when many members of Congress are hesitant to “tie the president’s hands” with specific dates, especially ones that specifically contradict his stated plan. More and more members of Congress are willing to draw a line and say it’s time to get out. See how your representative voted here.
Some Senate Republicans criticized what they called “mixed messages” about whether the US is staying or going in Afghanistan when General Petraeus testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. They’re right, though I’m sure we want the administration to affirm the opposite messages. When we continue to get members of Congress on the record with votes like this, we are saying that the one message is clear: it’s time for this war to end.