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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On its face, the amendment seems innocuous, without projecting either the number of troops to be withdrawn or the timeline.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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