ACTION ALERT: With bin Laden Dead, It's Time to End the War
May 5, 2011
USAction / TrueMajority & MoveOn.org & Liz Halloran / National Public Radio
With the death of Osama Bin Laden, it's time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home. President Obama has promised to begin a major drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan this summer. Now that bin Laden is dead, there's even more reason to end the longest war in US history. But not everyone agrees. Some Conservatives in Congress are already arguing that we should invest MORE troops, money and time in the region. Let Congress and the White House know what you think.
ACTION ALERT: Osama bin Laden Is Gone. It's Time to End the War
Drew Hudson / USAction / TrueMajority
(May 4, 2011) -- With the death of Osama Bin Laden, it's time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring home our troops. President Obama has already promised to begin a major drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan this summer. And now that bin Laden is dead, there's even more reason to end the longest war in US history. After all, President Obama has always said that the goal of the war in Afghanistan was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda."
But not everyone agrees. Some Conservatives in Congress are already arguing that bin Laden's death proves the war is working, and that we should invest MORE troops, money and time in the region.
Tell President Obama not to listen to those voices. Sign our petition telling the President he's on the right track with his promise to begin to end the war NOW, this summer.
It's worth noting that bin Laden was captured not by a full-scale military attack, but by a covert operation of a few soldiers that resulted in no American casualties.
It's exactly why USAction/TrueMajority members have been calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan for years. And now that bin Laden is dead, it's time to withdraw from a war that costs billions of dollars every year and has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 US troops and over 8,000 Afghan civilians.
Sign now to send that message to Obama - tell him to not just draw-down troops, but seriously end the war starting this summer.
Dear Mr President,
I support your commitment to an accelerated withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning this July. Now that Osama bin laden is dead and our mission to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda" is largely complete, I encourage you to bring home as many of our troops as possible.
Afghan War Polling
The Washington Post
Poll results released Tuesday by the Pew Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post show that the killing of Osama bin Laden boosted public confidence in the ability of the US to achieve its goals in Afghanistan. But Americans remain divided on whether troops should remain in Afghanistan or come home as soon as possible.
• 63 percent of those surveyed believe that the US will succeed in Afghanistan, up from 49 percent in December.
• 47 percent said that the US should keep troops in Afghanistan "until the situation has stabilized."
• 48 percent said that US troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan "as soon as possible."
The survey also found that 85 percent of Americans believe that the US will need to take "further military actions" to reduce the threat of terrorism to the United States.
ACTION: Sign the ‘Bring Them Home’ Petition
(May 4, 2011) -- It's already started -- hawks in the media and military saying that the killing of Osama bin Laden is proof that the war in Afghanistan is working and that we should redouble our efforts.
Even though bin Laden was captured in another country entirely. Even though the operation was executed by a small, specialized force and not the continued occupation of a nation by over 100,000 of our soldiers. Even though the man we ostensibly invaded Afghanistan to capture is no longer a threat.
And even as the war continues to be a drain on our resources at a time when we need them spent at home, more than ever.
In 2009, President Obama committed to begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan this July. Right now he's deciding how many troops to withdraw and how quickly. The New York Times reports that people in his Administration are divided, with pressure from some senior figures to minimize the withdrawal, and some voices of reason calling for an accelerated drawdown. 2
But he hasn't heard from us yet. At this moment of decision, a collective call from hundreds of thousands of Americans to bring our troops home will give the President the public support he needs to begin a swift, safe, and significant withdrawal of our troops. You can do your part by adding your name:
Click here to sign the petition to bring our troops home.
Full petition text:
“President Obama, we need to end the war in Afghanistan. Please keep your commitment to begin an accelerated withdrawal of troops in July.”
We are not alone in wanting to bring this war to an end. Representative Chellie Pingree has her own petition for a significant troop drawdown, which she plans to deliver to the White House. If we can get over 150,000 signatures on our petition, she'll deliver it too.
She's one of 81 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama, organized by Representative Barbara Lee, calling on him to make a "significant and sizeable" withdrawal of troops this July.
And even before this week, 73% of Americans believed we should be making a substantial withdrawal this Summer.2 So we're joining with other progressive groups who are mobilizing their members to support President Obama in his commitment to bring our troops home.
Can you help reach that goal of 150,000 signatures so we can stand up to the warmongers and have Rep. Pingree deliver our message of encouragement to the White House?
Yes, I can sign the petition to bring our troops home.
1. "Killing Adds to Debate about U.S. Strategy and Timetable in Afghanistan," The New York Times, May 2, 2011
2. Washington Post-ABC Poll, March 13, 2011
Bin Laden Death Fuels Afghan War Debate
Liz Halloran / National Public Radio
WASHINGTON (May 3, 2011) -- The death of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has brought to full boil the long-simmering debate over the current aims and merits of the nation's 10-year war in Afghanistan.
And though there are those still making forceful arguments for sustained military engagement in the country that harbored bin Laden and his al-Qaida operatives after the 2001 attacks, his demise has broadened and intensified calls for the US to get out.
Or at least for President Obama to redefine the mission from one that has evolved into nation-building to a limited counterterrorism effort that acknowledges vexing facts on the ground in Afghanistan — including the durability of the Taliban — and the greater threat in next-door Pakistan.
"In theory, several more years of intense US military effort will provide the time and space required to train up the Afghan army and police and weaken the Taliban so they no longer constitute an overwhelming threat," Afghanistan expert Richard Haas said during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
But Haas, Afghanistan coordinator for President Bush after Sept. 11, said he doesn't buy that theory. "I am deeply skeptical that this policy will work given the nature of Afghanistan and the reality that Pakistan will continue to provide a sanctuary for the Taliban," he said.
More than 100,000 US troops, including a 30,000-troop surge Obama ordered up in 2009, remain in the country that the US invaded to root out bin Laden and disable al-Qaida.
Obama has said he'll begin a partial withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in July; the number and speed have yet to be revealed and are evolving given bin Laden's death and new questions about Pakistan's role in harboring the terrorist.
Embedded, Intractable Hurdles
There is an issue on which both critics and supporters of a large and continuing military presence there can agree: Barriers to success in establishing what the US considers a stable central government in Afghanistan remain high and stubborn.
Corruption. The continued clout of the Taliban. Tribal divisions. And, perhaps most important, the unreliability of the US's own hand-picked leader, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"Karzai has been a problematic partner," says Lisa Curtis of the conservative Heritage Foundation. But Curtis is among those who argue that it's only been in recent years that military efforts in Afghanistan, diminished after the US intervention in Iraq in 2003, have been given the proper attention. She says gains are being made despite hurdles.
"This is the wrong time to talk about withdrawing US troops," Curtis says. "We simply cannot allow the situation to go back to Taliban rule that would provide a safe haven for international terrorists. "We have made this tremendous step, and now is the time to finish the job," she says.
Her Heritage colleague, James Jay Carafano, argues the same: Finish the job in Afghanistan and Iraq, he says, characterizing strong US engagement in Afghanistan as "vital to continuing to press Pakistan to go after the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership in its own backyard."
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that bin Laden's death "makes our engagement in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan more important, not less."
But there is a growing chorus of politicians and national security experts who argue that the cost of prosecuting a war whose current aims have proved elusive has become indefensible in terms of money, lives and attention.
Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing Tuesday that he sees no strategic value in the Afghan war, noting that al-Qaida there had been "largely displaced."
Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who titled Tuesday's hearing "Afghanistan: What is an acceptable end-state, and how do we get there?" has acknowledged that there may be "no military victory to be had in Afghanistan" despite the skill and efforts of US troops.
During the hearing, Kerry, who will travel to Afghanistan later this month, said that bin Laden's death "deals an enormous blow to al-Qaida's ability to operate."
But he said that the US can't just "pack up and leave" Afghanistan, as some have urged.
"We have to ask at every turn if our strategy in Afghanistan is sustainable," he said. "Our military and civilian strategies need the support in Afghanistan that is viable, as we transition and draw down our forces."
At the Center for New American Security, senior adviser Patrick Cronin says that bin Laden's death gives Obama an opportunity to accelerate efforts to transform US engagement in Afghanistan.
"We're bogged down in a country where there's never been a strong central state," Cronin says. "The threat remains, but this allows us to reassess how we deal with it."
Cronin is among those who argue that the US has to "give up the illusion that there will be an Afghan state that will take over, and be realistic about what we can accomplish as a foreign power so far away."
He dismisses the withdraw-all-troops-now crowd as naive. "We start where we are," he says. Withdrawal, he argues, needs to occur hand-in-hand with a new doctrine that focuses on targeting high-value terrorist targets, learning to accept local governments that the US may not like, and a heavier reliance on diplomacy.
The end game?
"The ability to neutralize the most dangerous terrorist groups that emerge in and around Afghanistan at a much more acceptable cost," he says.
What was once seen as a war of necessity, says Haas, has become a war of choice in a place he no longer considers a significant global terrorist threat.
And it's expensive: Its annual price tag has ranged from $110 to $120 billion.
Obama, in the 2009 speech he used to announce his plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan, said: "Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future."
The question of whether this president will declare that mission largely accomplished in Afghanistan, and what he plans to do to discourage the country from again becoming a haven for terrorists like bin Laden, will be answered in coming months.
Until then, politicians, experts and the American people will continue to grapple with the value of an expensive war, in a place often referred to as the "graveyard of empires."
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