Senators Jeff Merkley, (D-OR), Rand Paul, (R-KY), and Tom Udall, (D-NM) call for the withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan by 2012, in a opinion piece in today's NYT. Let’s Not Linger in Afghanistan Last month, 27 Senators sent President Obama a letter asking for a more significant and accelerated withdrawal. President Obama's responded last week, with a new plan to withdraw 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, with all combat troops to removed by 2014.
Now three Senators are urging our President to reconsider, and withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2012.
We believe the United States is capable of achieving this goal by the end of 2012. America would be more secure and stronger economically if we recognized that we have largely achieved our objectives in Afghanistan and moved aggressively to bring our troops and tax dollars home.
After Al Qaeda attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, we rightly sought to bring to justice those who attacked us, to eliminate Al Qaeda’s safe havens and training camps in Afghanistan, and to remove the terrorist-allied Taliban government. With hard work and sacrifice, our troops, intelligence personnel and diplomatic corps have skillfully achieved these objectives, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden.
the Senators continue:
Today, despite vast investment in training and equipping Afghan forces, the country’s deep-seated instability, rampant corruption and, in some cases, compromised loyalties endure. Extending our commitment of combat troops will not remedy that situation. ...
Today there are probably fewer than 100 low-level Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has a much larger presence in a number of other nations. Our focus shouldn’t be establishing new institutions in Afghanistan, but concentrating on terrorist organizations with global reach. And our military and intelligence organizations have proved repeatedly that they can take the fight to the terrorists without a huge military footprint.
We have urgent needs at home: high unemployment and a flood of foreclosures, a record deficit and a debt that is over $14 trillion and growing. We are spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan. We need to change course. ... we’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish in Afghanistan, and we can no longer afford the lives and money it is taking to pursue an ambitious open-ended nation-building mission.
These Senators make strong points when they question what further goals we have a realistic chance of accomplishing in Afghanistan. If our country is facing such a dire financial crisis that we have to consider cutting vitial social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Meicaid we do not have the funds for "nation building" in Afghanistan, which few advance plausible expectation of success.
With virtually no Al Qaeda forces left in Afghanistan, our Special Forces have proven to be a more effective, and much more efficient approach for dealing with scattered terrorists.
It's time to bring our troops home from both Iraq and Afghanistan.