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Odd, isn't it? that so few in Congress say much of anything about Afghanistan?

We're spending $100 billion+ this year on the export of more war to one of the poorest, most illiterate, most miserable places on Earth, the casualties to our own troops have ramped up in the past two years, yet members of Congress have little to say about the subject.

But it's not too difficult to figure out why we have so much silence from Congress;  any reasoning FOR a massive military footprint in Afghanistan is so specious, if not bizarre, that it's easy to wrestle it to the mat and pin it in seconds flat.  So, for a member of Congress to talk about this nasty war, which is based on specious, bizarre reasoning, is a VERY slippery slope, especially if you're one of them who are enabling it.  Better to not even talk about this massive, ugly beast in the room, pretend it's not there, and see if the media and a partisan electorate will give it a free pass...which is often what happens...than to say why you're NOT pushing back against it or not making any arguments FOR it.

Not so Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Not only is Sen. Gillibrand an original co-sponsor of Barbara Boxer's S.186 -- Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011, but she has also issued a detailed press release in which she explains exactly WHY she supports S.186.

America's Cost of War in Afghanistan: Over $345 Billion and Growing
March 15, 2011

Washington, D.C. – After nearly a decade at war in Afghanistan and more than 1,600 New York troops deployed there currently, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today called for a clear plan for withdrawal of America’s combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014. Over the last decade, America spent a total of $336 billion to fund the war and $11 billion for assistance in Afghanistan, with about $124 billion more set to be approved by Congress for FY2011.

Senator Gillibrand is calling for passage of the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act, legislation to begin withdrawing American combat forces from Afghanistan on July 1 of this year. Senator Gillibrand is also making a formal request for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to negotiate a Strategic Redeployment Agreement, based on the model used to withdraw American forces from Iraq, to establish a 2014 withdrawal end date for U.S. combat troops.

“America cannot afford an endless war in Afghanistan,” Senator Gillibrand said. “After nearly a decade at war, with still no equal commitment from the Karzai government, and after all the lives we’ve sacrificed and the billions we’ve spent on this war, it’s time to start bringing our troops home. It’s time to put the future and security of Afghanistan in the hands of its own leaders, and focus America’s national security on the emerging and more imminent threats from al Qaeda in other regions.”

.     .

And, Sen. Gillibrand has provided, in the press release, a copy of a letter she has sent to Secretaries Gates and Clinton where she makes her stance clear.

The letter concludes:

I am also concerned that the drain on our resources in Afghanistan may deteriorate our flexibility to address other global threats.  In the past few months, upheavals in the Middle East have posed new challenges for our government as a whole, including the military.  Yet, our flexibility of response appears to be compromised in part by our ongoing military involvement in two other Muslim majority countries. Top U.S. intelligence officials have said that Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula is a greater national security challenge than bin Laden.  And al Qaeda’s reach appears to be increasingly global – spreading ideology and seeking recruits via the Internet and other methods - not limited to specific contests like the one in Afghanistan. U.S. strategy for countering terrorism needs to be far more nimble, innovative, and global than the troop-heavy counter-insurgency.  

            What I am suggesting is not to spell out every stage of U.S. troop redeployment from Afghanistan – specific redeployment decisions should be up to commanders on the ground and avoid giving the enemy a potential propaganda tool.  Nor should we change the protection for our troops and flexibility for our mission that has been agreed in the U.S.-Afghanistan diplomatic notes exchange and the ISAF-Afghanistan Military Technical Agreement. I do not believe that a withdrawal agreement must necessarily limit our training or counter-terrorism missions, or protection for our civilian development programs.  It is critical, however, that we provide for a date certain for withdrawal of our combat forces, in order to give certainty to the American people; to ensure maximum flexibility in responding to other contingencies; and to publicly endorse the Afghan Government’s assumption of lead responsibility as planned.

.     .

BRAVO, Sen. Gillibrand, for your courage and stand-up leadership in TALKING about Afghanistan, and thank you for taking the initiative to explain why you support S.186.

I sent her a thank you, and you can too at her contact page.
.     .

I live in Illinois, not New York.  I'm pleased that Sen. Dick Durbin is also a co-sponsor of S.186.  He's a powerful guy.  In the senate, I think he qualifies as a proverbial eight hundred pound gorilla.

Though Dick Durbin issues a prolific volume of press releases, he has released nothing that I can find which EXPLAINS why he's chosen to co-sponsor S.186.  There is practically ZERO discussion on his website about Afghanistan.

Unlike the junior senator from New York, Dick Durbin has been avoiding the ugly beast in the room.  It's time that he, and the rest of congress, deal with and openly discuss this subject.  If our service members can fight, die, and receive horrid wounds in Afghanistan, members of congress should not shrink from talking about it.

Originally posted to Hound Dog on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by New York State and Milk Men And Women.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

    by Hound Dog on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:30:06 AM PDT

  •  I'm so glad that she is my senator (7+ / 0-)

    and so happy that she didn't take that first appointed term to sit back and occupy space.  She jumped right into the fray, which helped her get elected.

    She is a fearless woman.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:44:50 AM PDT

  •  Time to bring our troops home...... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, LuLu, Hound Dog, devtob

    S. 186
    Mrs. BOXER (for herself, Mr. DURBIN, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, and Mr. BROWN of Ohio) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A BILL To provide for the safe and responsible redeployment of United States combat forces from Afghanistan.


    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011'.

    SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:

    (1) October 7, 2011, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

    (2) Members of the United States Armed Forces and coalition forces have served valiantly and at great personal sacrifice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    (3) As of January 25, 2011, 1,457 American military personnel have lost their lives in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and 10,226 have been wounded.

    (4) As of January 20, 2011, United States taxpayers have spent an estimated $336,000,000,000 for operations in Afghanistan.

    (5) During a speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point on December 1, 2009, President Barack Obama outlined a detailed plan to allow the United States `to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011'.

    (6) President Obama also stated, `It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.'

    (7) It is essential to begin turning responsibility for security in Afghanistan over to the Government and people of Afghanistan.

    SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY ON PHASED REDEPLOYMENT OF UNITED STATES COMBAT FORCES FROM AFGHANISTAN.

    It is the policy of the United States to begin the phased redeployment of United States combat forces from Afghanistan not later than July 1, 2011.

    SEC. 4. PLAN FOR COMPLETION OF PHASED REDEPLOYMENT OF COMBAT FORCES.

    Not later than July 31, 2011, the President shall submit to Congress a plan for the phased redeployment of United States combat forces from Afghanistan, to include an end date for the completion of that redeployment.

    Rhetoric has to be matched with actions. "Only actions don't lie."

    by allenjo on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 09:44:42 AM PDT

  •  Sorry I didn't see this diary until now. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hound Dog, allenjo, devtob

    Thanks for this. Senator Gillibrand is a wonderful leader who carries the standard for progressives.

    Still trying to think of something thought-provoking or hilarious for this space.

    by LuLu on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:46:10 AM PDT

    •  She is setting the pace, to be sure. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, LuLu

      Stand-up leadership is wonderful to behold.

      A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

      by Hound Dog on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 12:00:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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