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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Congressman Ben Ray Luján Urges Obama to Stick to Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District joined with 80 of his colleagues yesterday to send a letter to President Obama urging him to stick to his plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan no later than July of this year. On October 7, 2010, the Afghanistan War entered its 10th year, becoming the longest war in American history. Click to read the the letter (pdf) and the complete list of signatories.

Given all the billions still being dumped into the hands of contractors and thieves in Afghanistan while Americans continue to suffer from joblessness and eternally escalating budget cuts, you'd think every single member of Congress who claims to be a Democrat would sign on to this letter. Unfortunately, way too many Dems have apparently vowed to stick with the President and the Pentagon on this one, regardless of the consequences here at home. As the letter notes:

Our nation’s economic and national security interests are not served by a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan. At a time of severe economic distress, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States more than $100 billion per year, excluding the long-term costs of care for returning military servicemembers. At the same time, military and intelligence officials agree that Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is diminished and that there will not be a military solution to resolve the current situation. It is simply unsustainable for our nation to maintain a costly, military-first strategy in Afghanistan.

Out-of-Control Military and War Spending
More than $100 billion a year means we are still pouring about $2 BILLION A WEEK into the corrupt sinkhole that Afghanistan has become. For what return? And this doesn't even take into account the hundreds of billions still being spent in Iraq and on our regular military budget. The President's FY 2012 base budget request for military spending is $553 BILLION, not counting the war spending. With the spending for Iraq and Afghanistan added in, the total is $671 BILLION.

In the meantime, the President and way too many Dems in DC are suggesting that we need to cut spending on things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, funding to states in budgetary peril and more to reduce the deficit. The vast majority of Americans, however, believe that enough is enough:

The majority of the American people overwhelmingly support a rapid shift toward withdrawal in Afghanistan. In fact, a Gallup Poll released on February 2, 2011 indicated that 72% of Americans favor action this year to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.” Let us be clear. The redeployment of a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July will not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.

Contact the NM Delegation
Let's thank Rep. Lujan for his courage and common sense on this issue, and urge Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) and Rep. Steve Pearce (R, NM-02) to show some backbone on this issue and insist on the President keeping his word on our withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the letter says,

Mr. President, as you work to finally bring an end to the war in Iraq by the end of this year, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that our nation’s military engagement in Afghanistan does not become the status quo. It is time to focus on securing a future of economic opportunity and prosperity for the American people and move swiftly to end America’s longest war in Afghanistan.

Resolution Calls for Troop Removal
Today, the U.S. House will debate H. Con. Res. 28, a resolution proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) that calls for President Obama to remove troops from Afghanistan within 30 days of adoption, or if the president determines such a rapid withdrawal would be jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops, then delay the withdrawal to no later than the end of the year. As Rep. Kucinich has noted

... while Congress "pulls unemployment benefits from suffering Ohio families and proposes slashing health care benefits, vital children's programmes and veterans' services all because we're 'broke,' it continues to fund a war that has cost us more than $455 billion (£282bn).

"The Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the average US family of four almost $13,000 (£8,050) last year."

For more on the true costs and futility of continuing operations in Afghanistan, visit Rethink Afghanistan

March 17, 2011 at 11:35 AM in Afghanistan, Economy, Populism, Iraq War, Military Affairs, Obama Administration, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Steve Pearce | Permalink

Comments

Rep. Lujan stick with this pressure! Rep. Heinrich, what's happened to you? We need to get out of there or we will never have enough money for OUR needs.

Posted by: Jerry | Mar 17, 2011 4:22:20 PM