In President Obama’s historic speech in Cairo last week, he laid the groundwork for significantly changing the US’s interactions with the Muslim world, shifting to a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation. He also clearly stated, “Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan.”
But when exactly will our troops come home? He said, “We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.” This hardly sounds like a specific benchmark for ending the war. Paired with a recent statement from the Army Chief of Staff that we’ll have boots on the ground for “a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan,” it sounds like a commitment to open-ended occupation. What we need is an exit strategy.
The House and the Senate each voted to pass more than $90 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the bulk of the money going to military operations. Many members of Congress have been reluctant to take a strong stand against the occupation, with only 60 representatives and 3 senators voting against the funding. But because of your grassroots efforts, we now have 84 representatives cosponsoring Rep. McGovern’s bill requiring an exit strategy by the end of the year. Can we get to 100? 150? Click here to write your representative to support a clear exit strategy for Afghanistan.
President Obama’s praiseworthy speech included some admirable points about nonmilitary aid and his desire to see US troops come home. We need to see that rhetoric matched with clear action. Congress will soon start examining President Obama’s military budget for Fiscal Year 2010. This is an important opportunity to raise concerns about the occupation of Afghanistan and push for a better policy. The ratcheting up support for McGovern’s bill, we put pressure on the congressional leadership to allow a vote. And this could open the way for other challenges to the war in Afghanistan. Take action today to make that happen.
Because thousands of you have been consistently raising your voices, we are starting to see cracks in Congress’ support for the war in Afghanistan. With increasing Afghan, Pakistani, and US casualties, and a growing humanitarian crisis, we must remain vigilant in our work to pressure our government for a more humane, effective and pragmatic solution.