Reps. Barbara Lee and John Garamendi joined with two Republicans to lead dozens of House members in writing to President Obama today to urge him to announce a significant, sizeable withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan when he addresses the nation tomorrow.
“We urge a significant and sizable reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan beginning July 2011,” the lawmakers wrote. “With Osama bin Laden killed and Al Qaeda largely driven from Afghanistan, it is time to accelerate the transfer of security responsibilities to the Government of Afghanistan and to reduce the U.S. military footprint there.”
Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said Congress must send a strong message that a token withdrawal is unacceptable.
“Maintaining anywhere near 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, at a cost of $10 billion per month, is an ineffective strategy for fighting terrorism and an unjustified drain on our budget,” he said. “Our brave troops have largely succeeded in driving out Al Qaeda from Afghanistan. Our troops in Afghanistan continue to fight valiantly, but they are now on the wrong mission.”
Lee, D-Oakland, said almost three out of four Americans want to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, and the nation no longer can afford to spend over $100 billion a year on a war without a military solution.
“That why I believe a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan should begin immediately,” she said. “A modest reduction of 30,000 troops should not be considered significant since it would merely return us to 2009 and pre-escalation troop levels. A more ‘significant’ and reasonable goal would be the withdrawal of 50,000 combat troops by the end of this year which is only half of the roughly 100,000 troops currently on the ground.”
Lee and Garamendi joined with Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., in leading the letter effort. Other Bay Area members signing the letter include George Miller, D-Martinez; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.
Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
Dear Mr. President,
We urge a significant and sizable reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan beginning July 2011. With Osama bin Laden killed and Al Qaeda largely driven from Afghanistan, it is time to accelerate the transfer of security responsibilities to the Government of Afghanistan and to reduce the U.S. military footprint there.
In the wake of the horrific September 11th attacks, the U.S. resolved to eliminate terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and to bring those who would harm innocent civilians to justice. Our troops have fought bravely, and now fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives are estimated to remain in Afghanistan. The recent killing of Osama bin Laden, for which you and members of our military and intelligence communities should be commended, is the capstone of that initial mission.
International terrorist networks remain a grave threat to the United States, as Al Qaeda affiliates now have a significant presence in countries like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. But maintaining anywhere near 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan is not an effective means of combating a global and decentralized enemy.
Our economic vitality is a crucial component of our national security. The nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan drains our resources, even as we face serious economic challenges at home. To date, we have spent nearly half a trillion dollars on the Afghan war, and that price tag increases by $10 billion every month we remain. When we calculate the long-term costs of this war, including servicing our debt and caring for our veterans, the dollar figures are almost inconceivable. These funds are needed for rebuilding our own economy, reducing the deficit and generating jobs for Americans.
Ultimately, this war will end not on the battlefield but through political negotiations. As we scale down our military operations in Afghanistan we need to continue our diplomatic efforts, pushing for a negotiated settlement that includes the Government of Afghanistan and other parties interested in establishing peace and stability.
The American public is weary of a war with no end in sight, and we call upon you to bring the longest war in our nation’s history to a close. Beginning in July of this year, we urge a swift, significant and sizable drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.