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.