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The Senate sent a strong message to the President yesterday. It’s a message that folks in the Daily Kos Community and my constituents in Oregon have known for quite a while:

It’s time to end this war in Afghanistan and bring our sons and daughters home.

Yesterday, the Senate approved my bipartisan amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would require the President to put forward a plan to expedite the draw-down of combat troops.

It was an historic moment. Never before has the U.S. Senate urged the President to speed up the process of bringing our troops home. The last similar amendment, in 2010, garnered only 18 votes. This year in June, 27 Senators signed on to a letter asking the President to draw down troops. The tide is turning.

It’s turning because we have achieved our two main and original objectives in Afghanistan: destroying al Qaeda’s safe haven and bringing to justice those responsible for 9-11.

It’s turning because people know that this nation-building effort in Afghanistan is taking an enormous and unacceptable toll on the lives and injuries of our young men and women in uniform.

Its turning because people know that the $10 billion a month consumed by this mission can be better spent countering terrorist groups wherever in the world they may be, investing in our crumbling infrastructure here at home, and reducing the deficit.

This nation-building mission, despite the use of tremendous resources, has had very limited success. It is undermined by vast corruption, sky-high illiteracy, and tribal and ethnic divisions that go back centuries. Moreover, there is a deep cultural aversion to a strong central government.

Like most Oregonians I talk to, I think it’s about time we do whole lot less nation-building abroad, and a whole lot more nation-building at home.

I’m glad the Senate heeded the call. The job is not done, however, until our servicemen and women are safe at home with their families.

Thank you for all your efforts in this battle. And thank you to Council for a Livable World, Moveon.org, Just Foreign Policy, Win without War, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action West, and many other groups for the calls and emails in support of this effort. Yesterday’s vote shows that a smart, engaged, fierce grassroots effort can make a difference.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank You Jeff (10+ / 0-)

    It will be good to have the US rush into peace for a change, since it unfortunately often rushes into war.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:12:53 PM PST

  •  Yes, thank you, Senator (6+ / 0-)

    Let's finish Hwy 20 from Corvallis to Newport at last! Better yet, let's build new infrastructure for mass public transportation in the Western states to help us get off oil sooner rather than later.

    It is far passed the time to end the occupation of Afghanistan. Bring all the troops home from the Bush/Cheney wars of lies for oil. Bring them home and put them to work here, making home a better place.

  •  The War Machine Needs to Wind Down (13+ / 0-)

    This war should have ended years ago.


    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam - A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

    by JekyllnHyde on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:19:19 PM PST

  •  Excellent news, Senator Merkley.... (6+ / 0-)

    I am very proud to call you one of my Senators :)

  •  Close oversea U.S. military bases (9+ / 0-)

    From Stephen Walt: Start with…

    …removing virtually all U.S. troops from Europe, while remaining formally committed to NATO. Europe is wealthy, secure, democratic and peaceful, and it faces no security problems that it cannot handle on its own. (The combined defense spending of NATO's European members is roughly five times greater than Russia's, which is the only conceivable conventional military threat the Continent might face.)
  •  Auto rec (3+ / 0-)

    Of course.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:30:32 PM PST

  •  Question for you, Senator (5+ / 0-)

    Since the amendment is only a rhetorical "sense of the senate", and has no actual force with the executive branch in bringing our troops home faster instead of slower, what effective actions, as an independent branch of government, are you and other senators taking towards the goal of bringing our troops home sooner rather than later?

    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 05:48:24 PM PST

    •  Since I haven't received a reply, yet, (0+ / 0-)

      here's another way to put the question:

      You and the other senators who signed off on the amendment have clearly shown that you understand a variety of reasons why we should expedite the redeployment of our troops.  

      You're talking the right talk.  

      So, how are you actually walking this walk?  What effective actions are you taking, as senators, to get the redeployment moving and done?

      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 08:23:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So you can bring it home to America? (6+ / 0-)

    Tell me, Senator Merkley:

    How'd you vote on that Defense Appropriations bill tonight?

    Yeah, the one that provides the authority to the military to sweep an American out of his or her bedroom right here at home and detain them indefinitely without charge?

    How'd you vote on that?

    Seems to me the cheers you might get for this push are completely wiped away and then turned to jeers provided you didn't vote "Nay!".

    So, what was it, Senator? Roll call ain't out yet. Help us out...

    More and Better Democrats

    by SJerseyIndy on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 05:54:25 PM PST

    •  Here's your answer, Indy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO

      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 07:21:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whoa...! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hound Dog, divineorder

        Did you see this paragraph?

        In an escalating fight with the White House, the bill would ramp up the role of the military in handling terror suspects. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller both oppose the provisions as does the White House, which said it cannot accept any legislation that "challenges or constrains the president's authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation."

        [My bold added.]

        The paragraphs following that indicate that even though MCA '06 is unconstitutional (and parts of it have already been declared by even this corrupt SCOTUS), Congress is still going ahead with passing laws that are unconstitutional and continue to take our rights away from us, and they reinforce the Patriot Act, MCA '06, and FISA fiasco '08..., all of which should have been repealed long ago (never passed into law in the first place).

        Senators and Representatives need to go back and read the US Constitution (y'know, Dumbya's "damned piece of paper" they took an oath to uphold).  ONLY Congress has the authority to declare war, and only Congress can finance war (for two years - the Constitution has a limit to war).  The president does NOT have the authority to start a war, nor to authorize the financing of a war..., which is the biggest reason we are deep in debt right now.

        BTW, in searching for THOMAS info on how each voted for S.1867, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, I ran across the twitter link.  Kossacks aren't the only people upset about this piece of unconstitutional trash.

        In an interview that Christian Amanpour had just after she took over on ABC's Sunday morning political hack show from George Stephanopolous, she asked someone (from the Pentagon, I think - military man, but I can never remember his name) how many Al Qaeda members were left.  His answer was "fewer than 100."  That was before OBL was killed and a few other of the series of #2 guys were killed.  We've been fighting a small international criminal gang with no ties to any country for ten years, all the major players are dead.  Was anyone besides me ever bothered by the fact that at the beginning we were never told how many members were in that little criminal gang back in 2001?  Remember, NO country or leader of any country declared war against us.  Dumbya (who had low, low, low poll ratings from inauguration day to Sept 10) bullied Congress into passing AUMF.  I still believe it is unconstitutional, but Congress gave up their right to declare war (at least in that one instance), even though Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11, even though that little criminal gang was hanging out in the inaccessible mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  How many hundreds were there originally...???

        I want ALL of our troops brought home to US soil..., it doesn't count if they're only moved out of Afghanistan and Iraq to an adjoining country where they can conveniently be close enough to invade Iran.  Remember, the only reason Deadeye Dickie Cheney knew Iran was receiving nuclear technology and equipment is because his Halliburton sold it to Iran in the first place!!!  (Just as the US sold deadly chemicals to Saddam Hussein and then turned around and were horrified because he gassed his own people.  Well, what else would he do with it?!?  Did no one think to ask that question before selling them?  Better question:  Why did the US sell those poison gasses to Saddam Hussein?  Damned fools...!)

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 08:55:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Obama has said he'll veto (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO

          the defense bill.  Lots of diaries here have linked it.  Who knows what's next?

          Yep, Afghanistan was important to AQ at a point in time, as was Hamburg (to coordinate the attacks), and the good ol' U S of A (for those flight schools).  Don't ya wonder why AQ would even need or want Afghanistan again?  For why?  To launch another 9/11 attack?  Talk about fighting the last war!  The need to have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan to protect the USA is absurd.  OBL was taken out by intelligence and a small, focused special op counter-terrorista operation in Pakistan, not by a huge counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan.

          I beat on Durbin's table for years about the above points, and he and his people played dumb and acted like they didn't get it.   Then, earlier this year, he suddenly started singing the exact same tune like a canary.  

          The senators are now talking the right talk, and act like they don't know how to walk their talk. In the meantime, our troops are being blown to bits and physically and emotionally mangled while fighting Pashtuns, who merely want others to stay off their property, and who don't get the concept of a central government, and who hate the northern tribes such as the Uzbeks and Tajiks with a passion.  Hey!  I got a great idea! Let's make these people get along at the point of a gun!  pffft  And do it all on the Bank of China Master Charge Card.  

          How do the Russians and Chinese contain their laughter at the gubmint of da U S of A?  It sure ain't funny ta me, watching Uncle Sam keep shooting hisself in both feet.  The body bags ain't funny at all.....you listening, Senator Procrastination?  Stop procrastinating, and get these troops home.

          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 10:27:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If it were not for the body bags... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hound Dog

            ... I might be laughing at the absurdity, too.

            19 criminals with boxcutters hijacked four planes, killed nearly 3K people.  Low-tech terrorism.  Horrible, dastardly criminal act..., but NOT an "act of war."  How could it be?  They only represented themselves and the other criminals..., not a whole country.

            All 19 died.  No one to put on trial.  Catching any accomplices should have been a matter of international law enforcement going after them..., not the full might of a nation's military forces plus mercenaries (who cost a helluva lot more than the military).

            Then, when OBL was cornered the first time, he was let go!  The only thing he was good for was war propaganda just before election day every couple of years.

            Seriously, people in other countries had to be rolling their eyes and then rolling on the floor laughing their asses off.  After all, most of them managed to live with terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare tactics by small bands of armed criminals for quite a few years, and still carry on normal lives without increasing a military budget to the point that they broke an entire nation.

            Jeez.  The stupidity of our political and military "leaders" for the last ten years has never ceased to amaze me.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 12:08:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The More! War! in Afghanistan! democrats (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO

              have pretty well disappeared, here on this blogsite.  I wrote my first bring-the-troops-home diary early in Obama's presidency, and got attacked by a pack of rabies-infected coyotes on steroids.  How dare I push back against Our President's Policies!!!!!  Now, these More-War-Democrats rarely pop their heads up on the radar screen.

              If it had been a Repub who did ex-actly what Obama has done, of course, rank and file Dems would have been shaking their fists in the air and giving one-finger salutes 24/7.  Huh.  Gee whiz, thank you very much, Democrats, for killing and maiming our troops by keeping them in a hellhole where they don't belong.  Go get some soap and water, and desperately try to wash the blood off your hands.

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

              by Hound Dog on Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 10:16:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Why are Democrats so silent on this war? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO

    Bunch of damn cowards, just like any Republicans who oppose the war and do nothing.  Including this site that does nothing.
    Thank you for your efforts Senator, and please continue. My nephew carried his dead fellow Marine home from patrol the other day, 19 years old. How many young Americans will be sacrificed?

  •  Nation building? You think we're in Afghanistan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, divineorder

    with over 100K troops and untold contractors to rebuild Afghanistan?  
    Whatever, as long as it wakes some people up enough to get this thing ended.  
    So we can go get more terrorists anywhere in the world, right?

  •  I can end this war in 6 words: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marcus Tullius, NonnyO, divineorder
    Tax the 1% for it.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 06:11:52 PM PST

  •  Sorry, not good enough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hound Dog, NonnyO, divineorder
    The amendment urges the President to accelerate the timetable

    How about demands? or instructs? or compels?

    To quote John Kerry:

    "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

    Keep trying Jeff, their are American lives at stake, goddamit

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 06:39:32 PM PST

  •  We still have your bumper sticker on our truck (0+ / 0-)

    because we want you there doing great stuff for decades. Good going!

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 08:49:08 PM PST

  •  Y'know what, Senator Merkley? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, divineorder

    FIRST, give us back our rights by repealing the Patriot Acts, MCA '06, FISA fiasco '08 (and all additions to each), then get the president to issue a counter-executive order to de-fund and abolish the unconstitutional 'office of faith-based initiatives,' send all the Gitmo prisoners back to their home countries and let their leaders deal with them, pass legislation that brings ALL of our troops in the Mideast home to US soil, close military bases overseas, start a medical insurance program like Medicare and do NOT force us to buy private insurance from corporations (mixing corporations with government is fascism, according to Mussolini) - really, we need something as advanced as the Scandinavian countries, but that takes courage to stop this infernal militaristic crap and spending money on it and start spending money on our own people and no one in Congress has that courage now........ and then we can start talking about going back to living by the US Constitution and the oath you all took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the US....  m'kay?

    If you want the votes of Oregonians and the support of other people in other states, FIRST you and your fellow congressional members must DO something to EARN our votes and support.  Promises to do something after you're elected are no longer good enough.  We were promised change in '08, and got more of the same - and worse!  In the campaign of '06, Conyers promised to bring impeachment to the floor of the House, and as soon as election day was over, he withdrew his impeachment draft (and reps like mine withdrew the support of impeachment and investigation into war crimes for 'fear of Republican backlash' - quote from my rep's email that so disgusted me).  Kucinich was the only one with balls enough to bring three impeachment resolutions to the floor of the House against Bush and Cheney, and none of the frontrunner candidates would even commit to investigating the lies and war crimes of Bush, Cheney, and their lying criminal cohorts, let alone support impeachment of the worst president this country has ever had.  More's the pity, Obama has continued the Bushista warmongering, and Congress continues to waste our money on unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, unethical, and dishonorable wars of aggression.  More war crimes, in case you were not keeping track.  Stop it...!!!

    I don't really care how paranoid you and your fellow senators and representatives are, but I'm more afraid of the fact that between the two legislative bodies, the executive branch, and the judicial branch giving corporations personhood that We The People will end up losing everything to corporations and mercenaries.  Nope, I'm not the least bit afraid of "fewer than 100" Al Qaeda members left in the world.  535 people acting like damned fools and passing all this unconstitutional legislation since 2000 as well as breaking every treaty ever passed... now THAT's something to be afraid of!

    We used to be fighting Eurasia and now Eastasia.  Who's next?

    To paraphrase someone's sig line (since I can't find where I had it written down) "Somewhere George Orwell is pounding on his coffin lid screaming "1984 is not an instruction manual, you dolts!"

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 09:03:46 PM PST

  •  Thank you Senator Merkley (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    I might suggest that, if the truth be known, the original mission was, in all likelihood, very similar to the expanded mission.

    Of course it would have been more difficult to sell the expanded mission to the public.

    The "Great Game" predates 9-11.

    “Humankind can not bear very much reality.” - T.S. Eliot

    by truong son traveler on Thu Dec 01, 2011 at 11:08:08 PM PST

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