Skip to main content

In mid-November, the Christian Science Monitor reports, a loya jirga in Afghanistan - a national meeting of tribal leaders and other notable Afghans - will vote on whether to meet the Obama administration's terms for keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014.

If you care about democracy in Afghanistan, you should be happy for the Afghans. Whether or not - and if so, under what conditions - they want to have thousands of U.S. troops in their country after 2014 is obviously a very big deal for them. Why shouldn't they have full deliberation and debate?  

But if you also care about democracy in the United States, you should be a bit troubled. Because Congress has never approved keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.

The closest Congress has come to considering this question is in language passed by the House in June, 2013. Offered by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, this language - which passed the House 305-121, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting yes- said [my emphasis]:

(a) In General- It is the policy of the United States that, in coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries, and other allies in Afghanistan, the President shall--

(1) complete the accelerated transition of United States combat operations to the Government of Afghanistan by not later than December 31, 2013;

(2) complete the accelerated transition of United States military and security operations to the Government of Afghanistan and redeploy United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan (including operations involving military and security-related contractors) by not later than December 31, 2014;
[...]
(b) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that should the President determine the necessity to maintain United States troops in Afghanistan to carry out missions after December 31, 2014 ... such presence and missions should be authorized by a separate vote of Congress not later than June 1, 2014.

So the House is on record saying that 1) U.S. troops should be out of Afghanistan by December 31, 2014 and 2) if the President determines that it is necessary to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after December 31, 2014, that should be authorized by a separate vote of Congress.

The problem is that right now - not in June 2014 - the Obama Administration is working to finalize an agreement with the Afghan government on keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014. So if Congress were to wait until May 2014 to vote on this, how do you think that's going to go? We're likely to be told, oh, sorry, that's a done deal. The U.S. has already signed an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to keep thousands of troops there after the end of 2014. So, if Congress were to vote no on that now, we would then likely be told, they'd be undermining U.S. policy and making the President look bad.

Congress should be debating this and voting on it right now, before any agreement is signed. The Senate will soon be considering the National Defense Authorization Act. That's a perfect opportunity to consider whether to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. Currently, the Afghan government is trying to get cozy with the Pakistani Taliban. It's their lookout, you could say. But should we continue to support them with our blood and treasure?

Meanwhile, Congress is debating a ten year plan for the federal budget. You think keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely is going to be free? The current average cost of keeping ten thousand U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan for a year is twenty billion dollars. If that happens that for six years, it's going to cost U.S. taxpayers more than some people claim they are going to save the government over ten years by cutting Social Security benefits with the "chained CPI." Food stamps are being cut. Shall we tolerate being poor-mouthed on domestic spending, while the cost of keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely goes unmentioned?

Representatives Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, and Walter Jones are currently working to rally their fellow Members of Congress to speak up about this. If you agree with them that any agreement to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely should be debated and voted on in Congress before it is signed, you can tell Congress so here.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

Poll

Congress should debate & vote before any agreement to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan

83%20 votes
16%4 votes

| 24 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Absurd this is even an issue. Obama needs to (5+ / 0-)

    get out of his Afghanistan war now.  No more.

    "It is easier to pass through the eye of a needle then it is to be an honest politician."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 12:22:21 PM PST

  •  You think a Loya Jirga is democracy? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sandbox

    Heh, that's kind of funny.

    I'm glad that ISAF is planning on leaving around 12k troops in place for advanced training until 2017/2018.  Anyone who knows anything about the Afghan Security Forces also knows that they still need training and advisement in the more complex fields, such as logistics, explosives ordinance disposal, engineering, and in the air force.

    I'm not willing to see ten plus years of blood and treasure get flushed down the drain because people like you don't understand that it could all go down the drain if the finishing touches aren't applied.

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

    by Lawrence on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 12:35:00 PM PST

    •  Since we're going on 13th year, how many years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BigAlinWashSt, corvo, Robert Naiman

      will you give it, Lawrence?

      What do you feel will change for the better?

      If another decade passes and we are still spilling blood and treasure, how much longer then?

      I'm not willing to see ten plus years of blood and treasure get flushed down the drain because people like you don't understand that it could all go down the drain if the finishing touches aren't applied.

      For all our fallen solders who come home from Afghanistan in a coffin to Dover, "God bless the cause for which they died."

      by allenjo on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 12:55:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the thing though.... (0+ / 0-)

        there hasn't been a concerted effort for those 13 years, but really only in the last 4 to 5.  Anyone with half a brain knew that there would have to be a concerted effort in Afghanistan for about a decade.  You may not remember this, but I remember well how the idiot Rumsfeld stood in Kabul in 2002/2003 and said that the U.S. wouldn't have to provide financial support via some kind of mechanism similar to the Marshall Plan.  Virtually no correct steps were taken by us under Rumsfeld, which led to the resurgence of the Taliban in 2005/2006.  And the fact that the Bush Admin. idiots took us to Iraq and thus totally dropped the ball in Afghanistan sure didn't help.

        What will clearly change for the better is that the Afghan National Security Forces will continue to improve to the point where they can also handle complex tasks all by themselves and provide full security themselves.  Without them being able to provide security, the Afghans have virtually no chance at establishing a true democratic and just state.

        In conclusion, I'm not willing to abandon the Afghans now that we are so close to the finish line, especially since the efforts required by us now are minute in comparison to what was previously invested.

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

        by Lawrence on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:13:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The blood and treasure have been flushed (4+ / 0-)

      The question is how many more times to pull the handle.

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.- Jeannette Rankin

      by CA148 NEWS on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:31:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should keep air base in Afpak (0+ / 0-)

    for future possible drone and air attacks.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site