Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its newly formed Afghanistan Taskforce have sent a letter (pdf) to President Obama urging “a comprehensive rethinking of our military mission, a complete redesign of our reconstruction and stabilization strategy and a courageous reconciliation strategy for Afghanistan.” Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) write:
We are concerned about committing additional US troops and taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan, especially when the US mission is unclear and when methods for measuring effectiveness are underdeveloped or nonexistent.
We are concerned about the economic reconstruction and stabilization strategy, specifically that foreign aid has thus far failed to rebuild Afghan institutions, infrastructure and individual capacity.
We are concerned about the political legitimacy and corruption of the Afghan government, a problem exacerbated by mismanaged elections, foreign aid distribution, and foreign intelligence and security alliances.
Our perspectives have manifested, formally and informally, via Congressional Progressive Caucus Member-led legislation: Requesting a timeline for eventual troop withdrawal (H.R. 2404, Rep. McGovern); requesting measurements for mission success; prohibiting funds for additional troop surges (H.R. 3699, Rep. Lee); and reorienting the current mission to invest 80 percent of foreign resources into political and economic development, with 20 percent towards security, e.g. peacekeeping, Afghan police/army training (Reps Honda and Grijalva). Additionally, our overall strategy in Afghanistan must be guided by smart security, a policy that will put diplomacy and development above the use of force (H. Res. 363, Rep. Woolsey).
As we work tirelessly to push the debate in Afghanistan toward a consideration of nonmilitary options, I am grateful for these progressive leaders who are willing to raise their voices and articulate an alternative vision for our engagement in Afghanistan and our overall foreign policy. The writers of the letter end by requesting a meeting with the president to discuss their ideas further. Members of the Progressive Caucus met with President Obama earlier this year to discuss healthcare reform and Afghanistan, and it is critical that this dialogue continues.
If you’re in the Bay Area, Rep. Lee will be holding a rally and press conference Monday, November 23rd at noon in the courtyard of the Dellums Federal Building in Oakland to support H.R. 3699, her bill to prohibit funds for an escalation in Afghanistan. If you can’t make it, check here next week for a report back, and click here to urge your representative to cosponsor the bill.