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10 years, countless deaths, untold wasted funds, Osama Bin Laden gone, and the  Obama Admin/Pentagon/CIA are still saying they need to stretch the occupation of Afghanistan until 2014. Many are opposed to taking this long.

Saving lives - and billions - in AfghanistanThe Merkley amendment to withdraw troops will save American lives and money - and it's in line with public opinion.

Got an email this morning from the UPJ activist network that the Merkel Amendment passed the Senate.

This is great news, but not for John McCain.

The Senate, on Wednesday, called for an “expedited drawdown” of US troops from Afghanistan in an amendment to the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and 20 co-sponsors, was adopted by voice vote,as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shouted “no.”

On its face, the amendment seems innocuous, without projecting either the number of troops to be withdrawn or the timeline. But in the context of recent Congressional action on Iraq and Afghanistan, it provides a significant impetus for the Obama administration to move up its current 2014 timetable for ending US combat operations. It also sends a major message to Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai, who has been promoting a ten-year US commitment, and to the NATO/ISAF conference meeting Monday, November 5, in Bonn.

Saving money and lives

McCain attacked Merkley on the amendment, but the Senator from Oregon won the day:

Sen. Jeff Merkley's amendment calling for faster withdrawal from Afghanistan approved by Senate

But Merkley said the mission has changed, from fighting terror to nation building. And that while the U.S. was successful on the first, it is likely to fail on the second.

"Destroying al-Qaida ... and building a modern nation state where none has ever existed are two entirely different things," he said.

Merkley noted that before the U.S. entered Afghanistan, the country's annual gross national product was about $10 billion. "We have spent an amount equal to 44 times the economy of Afghanistan," he said, referring to the $444 billion cost so far of U.S. involvement.

"You would think that the result is we would have rebuilt the infrastructure of Afghanistan 10 times or 20 times over. But the reality is there is very little to show for this nation-building mission," he said, blaming corruption, illiteracy and deeply held tribal rivalries that blunt progress.

With the voice vote, Merkley's language will be attached to a huge defense bill that will consume the Senate for the next few days. Merkley had bi-partisan support, with Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky joining with Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio as primary co-sponsors.

Afghanistan and the US Presidential Election

Sure, the Obama campaign and the Pentagon would probably like to see this occupation stretched out for a number of reasons including looking 'strong on defense.'

The public, otoh, is ready for this to end now.

Pew Research: Record Support For Afghanistan Troop Withdrawl

House of Representatives Vote

Now that the Senate has passed this,  we need to muster a few more votes in the House, which only narrowly defeated a proposal last spring.

We have strong reasons to end the occupation, including converting military spending to jobs in our domestic economy.

"Want to solve the debt 'crisis' ?

At a recent Occupy Santa Femarch  we chanted:

Want to solve the debt 'crisis' ?
Tax the Rich, End the Wars

The 1% include Wall Street's War Profiteers, who want the wars to continue, and will be out in force to stop any thing that will lower demand for their 'products.'  Just this week they have launched a new campaign to link loss of jobs with cutting military spending.

Spending money on those dead ender weapons jobs creates far fewer than those that would be created under say, the President's jobs plan.  

Winning Hearts and Minds?

We are no longer  winning hearts and minds in the region and the NATO attack from Afghanistan on Pakistan this last week added many more upset with US/NATO actions:

Enraged Pakistanis protest NATO attack

When announcing troop withdrawals from Iraq in time for the holidays, the President stated that the nation that needs building just now is ours:

This includes enlisting our veterans in the greatest challenge that we now face as a nation -- creating opportunity and jobs in this country.  Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build -- and the nation that we will build -- is our own; an America that sees its economic strength restored just as we’ve restored our leadership around the globe.

The President is correct here, and here's hoping that the Senate Amendment and a possible support in the House could help see that dream come true much sooner.


The Associated Press
In this Thursday, July 14, 2011 file photo, U.S. soldiers board a U.S. military plane, as they leave Afghanistan, at the U.S. base in Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan. The Senate approved an amendment Wednesday endorsing a faster withdrawal of troops.


Are you celebrating the passage of this Amendment?

Where's does your House member stand on Afghanistan withdrawal?  

Originally posted to divineorder on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 02:20 PM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and Recs for bringing troops home (23+ / 0-)

    for the holidays, including bringing troops home from Afghanistan much sooner than is now planned.

  •  Crazy old coot (5+ / 0-)

    that's my senator, McCain...feh. I hope he lives long enough to see the end of endless war.

    There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death. -- Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 02:26:52 PM PST

  •  Did he sound (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, sherlyle, tytalus

    as petulant as Ted Stevens?

    •  Heeheeheeheehee. Good one, operculum. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sherlyle, tytalus, operculum

      Have not yet seen a video of the voice vote. Wonder if the veins on JM's neck stood out?

      BTW, where does your Congresscritter stand on withdrawal?

      •  He's a cosponser (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of Merkley's bill.

        He said this in June:

        “The men and women serving in our armed forces have more than succeeded in accomplishing the mission we asked them to do. They have served honorably and heroically and they should be commended. But, we must remember that we were in Afghanistan to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, to take down the main base of al Qaeda and to remove the Taliban from power.  Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda’s true base of power is now decentralized and in areas like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa; and the Taliban is no longer in charge of Afghanistan.  

        “We cannot justify the continued loss of life when we have already lost thousands of men and women in our military, including 71 Iowans since 9/11; we also can’t sustain the nearly $10 billion we are spending each month in Afghanistan this year.

        “The President is taking the right action in redeploying troops from Afghanistan, but as I and several other senators urged him earlier this month, there should be more troops coming home sooner.”

        Last week, Harkin joined a bipartisan group of 27 senators in sending a letter  to President Obama calling for a shift in strategy in Afghanistan, urging the President to use next month’s deadline as an opportunity to begin a “sizable and sustained” drawdown of troops that puts the U.S. on a path toward removing all regular combat troops from the country.

        •  Oh, that was my senator, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this is my congressman:

          Congressman Dave Loebsack today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plan to start bringing home troops from Afghanistan.  Loebsack is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and has traveled to Afghanistan six times to meet with the troops and receive briefings from the commanders on the ground.

          “Our troops, including the 2,800 Iowa National Guard Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, have bravely carried out every mission given to them and have made real progress across Afghanistan.  Our nation owes them and their families a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.  

          We must ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists, but I have long said that an open ended commitment does not benefit our security. As we focus on our economic recovery here at home and the global security threats that face our nation, it’s time for the Afghan people to take responsibility for their country.  The President’s announcement tonight was a first step but I believe we should bring our troops home as quickly as we can responsibly do so.

          I have cosponsored legislation calling for the President to provide a plan and timeframe for the accelerated transition of combat operations to Afghan authorities.  I believe it is time the President provides the American people with a clear explanation of the timeline to transition security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces and safely bring our troops home.”

  •  If we do ever get out, I will celebrate for the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Afghanistan people.  Other than that, the same great game will go on. There may be some changes but with what's happening with Pakistan, China and Russia, and the removal of most troops from Iraq, a newer timeline doesn't mean much.  

  •  We need to stop spending so much there (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, Hound Dog

    Admit that we cannot 'kill off' the insurgency, and use the savings to cut our deficit and hopefully re-align the projects we fund. I would rather see alternative energy research here than infantry in Afghanistan.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 04:45:17 PM PST

  •  The sad truth about the Merkley (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, divineorder

    Amendment is that it is merely a sense of the senate thing.  It has no teeth, no clout.  There is nothing in it to compel the executive branch to get our troops home faster rather than slower.

    Several peace and justice groups have been loudly trumpeting the Merkley amendment.  The good in the amendment is that a lot of senators have signed their names to the reasoning for expediting and accelerating redeployment.

    The amendment language is here.

    The resolutions:

    Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—

    1) the President of the United States should expedite the transition of the responsibility for military and security operations to the Government of Afghanistan;

    2) the President shall devise a plan based on inputs from military commanders, the diplomatic missions in the region, and appropriate members of the cabinet, along with the consultation of Congress, for expediting the drawdown of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan and accelerating the transfer of security authority to Afghan authorities prior to December 2014; and

    3) and not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Resolution, the President shall transmit to Congress a plan with a timetable and completion date for the accelerated transition of all military and security operations in Afghanistan to the Government of Afghanistan. [I added the boldface]

    I contacted a well-placed and personally trusted peace and justice lobbyist on Capitol Hill to confirm or disconfirm that the Merkley amendment was a bunch of froth, and it was confirmed for me that it's froth.  Nice sounding froth that takes a baby step in the right direction.

    I think the thing to do is that, now that the senators have shown they understand why (read the amendment language) we need to get out of Afghanistan,  they should act decisively to make it happen.  They're an independent branch of government, already.  It's quite ok to send them this message by phone, email and in person.  Tell 'em that talking the talk is fine, and now it's time to walk that walk.  Ask them, "What are you actually doing, Senator?"

    Many of these senators have already gone on record this year showing they "get" the reasoning for redeploying from Afghanistan, and for them, signing the Merkley amendment was not any great breakthrough.  My patience with these people is gone.  Troops are dying and being physically and emotionally mangled, and so are their families, and these senators are enabling it.

    Just in case you're interested, I wrote a diary on this subject.


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

    by Hound Dog on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:10:16 PM PST

  •  A nice addition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, divineorder

    but as long as the Black Bag language is still in the bill, I'd like to see it die a violent death and the ground around it salted.

    You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

    by Johnny Q on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:12:05 PM PST

  •  Are We Sure He Was Yelling About The Vote? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maybe there just happened to be a cloud passing by.

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 07:21:07 PM PST

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