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The President was right in his speech last month that we need to begin bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. But a counter-terrorism strategy doesn’t need 70,000 boots on the ground, any more than it needed 100,000 boots on the ground.  

What the president needed to tell us is how – and when – he’s going to bring all the troops home.  

In May, we co-sponsored an amendment calling on the Obama Administration to develop an exit strategy from Afghanistan that came within a few votes of passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.   

As active members of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, we believe the strong, bipartisan vote in support of our amendment demonstrates that there is a growing consensus – in Congress and in the country – for a dramatic change in our Afghanistan policy.

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of our military engagement in that country, the President should tell us when all of our troops will be coming home, and how much it will cost the American people – in sacrificed lives, wounded bodies and minds and U.S. tax dollars – until this war is finally over.  

The operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden demonstrated that the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community are incredible people.  The world is now a better, safer place.

The question then becomes: Now what?  Now that bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is scattered around the globe, does it really make sense to continue sacrificing American lives and propping up a corrupt government?  We don’t think so.

Remember – we didn’t find bin Laden on the front lines of Afghanistan.  He was comfortably holed up in a mansion in Pakistan.  We must continue to target Al Qaeda wherever they are in the world.  But continuing to be bogged down in Afghanistan makes that mission harder, not easier.

In December, the corrupt President of Afghanistan, Hamid Kharzai, made it clear that he would rather align himself with the Taliban than with the United States.  So why on earth are we sacrificing so many in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and billions of dollars to support him?

We believe that bin Laden’s death creates an opportunity to wholly re-examine our policy and to require the Administration to tell us exactly how and when we will end our massive troop presence in Afghanistan.

Our amendment would have required the President to give Congress a concrete strategy and timeframe for bringing our servicemen and women home to their families and communities. That’s not too much to ask.

And by the way - we’re not even paying for this war. It’s actually financed on the national credit card.  The war in Afghanistan adds $100 billion a year in military costs alone – $2 billion each week, $8 billion each month – to our debt.

These are difficult economic and budgetary times.  Programs that we care deeply about – like job training dollars for the unemployed, heating assistance for low-income families, Pell Grants, transportation funding – are being slashed.  We’re told that we can’t afford vital domestic funding, but we should continue to borrow billions and billions of dollars for nation-building in Afghanistan.  What we really should be doing is nation-building right here at home.  

Instead of building roads, bridges, hospitals and schools halfway around the world in Afghanistan, we should be re-directing those resources to the urgent needs of our own country.  

We need a plan for the safe, orderly and expedited withdrawal of all of our forces from Afghanistan.  That’s what our amendment would have required.  We are hopeful that with enough public pressure, we can provide some wind at the back of the President to help him do the right thing.

This war is the longest in our history.  And there’s no end in sight.  We’ve completed our original mission and now it’s time we bring all of our troops home. Let’s take the billions of dollars we’re spending there and invest it in the future of our own great country.

Fellow New England Congressmen Representative David Cicilline and Representative Jim McGovern have been vocal advocates of bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. Rep. David Cicilline represents the 1st District of Rhode Island and Rep. McGovern represents the 3rd District in Massachusetts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind, blueoasis

    It's time to end the longest war in US history. Karzai is corrupt as hell, we know longer have a definition of "winning", it is a waste of precious lives and national treasure, it's time to GO HOME.

    We'll make progress in this country when we start caring more about who is fucking the public than who is fucking in private.. ~Kossack JesseCW

    by MinistryOfTruth on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 08:26:57 AM PDT

  •  The only thing probable... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind, blueoasis is that, unfortunately, Obama appears to be very  intimidated by the generals whose main reasons for choosing their careers is to wage wars and win.

    Read everything Obama has said about why we're still there, and you'll see that none of it makes any sense whatsoever.  Because it is not possible to make sense out of it.

    Thus we're left with two choices:  Either Obama is a closet hawk or he fears and defers to the generals. My guess is that the latter is more likely.

    I didn't care for math, but when I first understood the concept of finding the slope of a curve at a point, I wanted to grab the first girl I saw and kiss her with wild abandon, just like in that WW II photo.

    by dov12348 on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 08:30:13 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. (7+ / 0-)

    Balance the budget by ending these wars.

    CitizenX: "If the republicans were in charge GM & Chrysler would be dead and Osama bin Laden would be alive."

    by TomP on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 08:37:00 AM PDT

  •  I Always Think Of the Friedman Unit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when I think of Afghanistan. We get our troops through basic training in a matter of months. We're been training troops in Afghanistan for a decade and we're not done. We keep hearing just wait a little long, we got it this time. Just another year. Just another six months. I don't get why more folks in the media don't pick up on this and push back against Obama. We've been told just wait another six months or a year for 10 years.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 08:43:12 AM PDT

    •  Last time I checked Congress holds the purse (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      stings. They are also the ones who decide to go to war. How about requiring a deadline from yourself and your colleques on this issue instead of simply grandstanding on a progressive blogsite. I agree bring the troops home now. You and the folks you work with, do not need the president to accomplish that.


      "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

      by Farkletoo on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:02:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  While this is true, on the surface, it is a (0+ / 0-)

      superficial analysis that completely ignores the fact that basically no importance was given to training Afghan National Security Forces during Rumsfeld's reign.

      In 2006, 5 years into our efforts in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army only had 27k troops, were undertrained, underresourced, did not receive a living wage, were mostly illiterate, and just weren't a credible fighting force in general.

      In 2011, another 5 years down the road, the ANA has nearly 170k soldiers, are paid living wages, are trained pretty well, are resourced far better, are receiving mandatory literacy training, and are finally turning into a credible fighting force.

      The bulk of that growth in troop size(90k) took place in just the last two years, since the inception of Nato Training Mission-Afghanistan, in November of 2009.

      So, while there has been a certain amount of training all along, a concerted, broad, and promising effort was not started until after the Bush/Cheney years.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:17:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should talk (3+ / 0-)

    I'm cheering at the sentiment, but cringing at the format.

    You should really have at least one representative image in this, which is a big help to people sharing on Facebook. There are some things in here that really ought to be offset via the blockquote tag to provide more emphasis. I don't see a link to the Congressman's Facebook or Twitter - these should be in a boilerplate closing paragraph ...

      And if I hadn't looked I wouldn't have know this was coming - it's best to have things like this, where a Rep is speaking, positioned for maximum exposure.

  •  I think that ISAF's transition and withdrawal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farkletoo, downsouth

    timeline, which sees ISAF working itself out of a job by 2014, is pretty much on the money, and it gives the Afghans a realistic, fighting chance of building a somewhat stable and prosperous country.

    Withdrawing immediately, on the other hand, would very likely lead to innumerable headaches down the road.

    Jfyi, Congressman Cicilline, Karzai will not be the Afghan President in 2014 anymore, as he will arrive at the end of his term limit at that time.  So when we support the Afghan State, we are not exactly supporting Karzai in the long run.

    One thing that I find disturbing in this diary is the following:

    Instead of building roads, bridges, hospitals and schools halfway around the world in Afghanistan, we should be re-directing those resources to the urgent needs of our own country.  

    When did liberals become the enemies of foreign aid?  That's one of the arguments that I've always been used to hearing from Republicans and wingers, so it is disturbing to hear it from liberals.

    Are you saying that we should do away with foreign aid ,alltogether, or just that the Afghans are not worthy of receiving foreign aid?

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 08:53:04 AM PDT

    •  I agree... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with the entirety of this comment.  Well said, Lawrence.

      And Congressman, the problem is not with building roads, bridges, hospitals and schools in Afghanistan.  The problem is in a bloated defense budget and unnecessary military operations like Iraq and Libya.  The problem is in giving taxpayer money away to support "too big to fail" financial institutions and manufacturers.  The problem is that too many of your colleagues support Wall Street over Main Street; hawks over doves; and CEO's over workers.

      Terror has no religion.

      by downsouth on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:19:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And I agree with your comment except in regards to Libya.

        I'm a big fan of the Arab Spring revolutions, so I see a greater, and very important, context there.  I think it may turn out to be one of the most sane, effective, and fruitful military interventions in modern history.

        Plus, the intervention in Libya is costing us so little in comparison to Iraq and Afghanistan.

        For a greater understanding of why I disagree on Libya, please read my diary on the subject and watch the embedded video there:

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:36:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am not opposed (0+ / 0-)

      To foreign aid when it actually goes to the people. Most of the time the money gets gobbled up by corrupt people who never see the money or benefits. Look at Haiti. They are still living in camps.
      What has our aid given Isreal?  More weapons.
      End the corruption. But no aid at the expense of those of us who have no jobs, food ect.

      Why are we still paying for Congress's health insurance, their meals and all the other perks they get while they are gutting ours? They get all the perks while we get a pile of shit.

      by snoopydawg on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 10:47:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you Congressman (1+ / 0-)

    I doubt you will find much disagreement with what you've said here. The political, military, and fiscal case for going home now is a slam dunk. I'm not even sure why the President's plan draws down troops at such a glacial pace, unless it's based in Democratic fear of seeming "soft on terror", a fear which the recent successful elimination of Osama Bin Laden ought to have dispelled for good.

    I support torturous regimes! Also, I kick puppies.

    by eataTREE on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:08:35 AM PDT

  •  It's way past time (1+ / 0-)

    Can't anyone see that we are now trading off valued social programs for staying in Afghanistan?  Does anyone really want that trade off?

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:09:11 AM PDT

  •  We've got your back (0+ / 0-)

    I'm part of the RI peacenik community and if you need us to send you lots of letters and phone calls, we can do that.

  •  Enough talk, Rep Cicciline (0+ / 0-)

    Rhetoric is fine, but, what are you actually doing to bring our troops home?

    I'm the dad of a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.  More war funding from congress only buys more boards and nails to crucify our troops in these foreign deployments.

    Cut the funding back.  Do not vote for continued funding of forward operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Vote only for funding for safe, orderly re-deployment, if your rhetoric is serious or you want it to be taken seriously.

    Some say that cutting war funding does not guarantee our troops will come home.  Well, this dad of a soldier says, Continued war funding is not bringing them home either.  I do not worry a bit about our troops if congress slashes the funding.  I worry for our troops if congress continues to enable this bizarre experiment in Afghanistan.

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

    by Hound Dog on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 06:54:52 PM PDT

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