Sixty-one members of the House of Representatives have signed a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama opposing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan through 2014.
“Mr. President, such an extension of US troops in Afghanistan is contrary to American public opinion and to the future of America,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) wrote in the letter. “We believe that this Congress will not support efforts to extend our military operations in Afghanistan into 2014 and we call on you to reaffirm your commitment to begin a safe and rapid redeployment beginning in July 2011.”
The letter was cosigned by 57 Democrats and 4 Republicans.
“This has become the longest war in US history,” she added. “The rate of casualties is at an all-time high. And we have already spent $365 billion on this unwinnable war.”
A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 50 percent of those surveyed said the United States should not be involved in Afghanistan, compared to 41 percent who opposed the war in September.
Obama announced July 2011 as the date the United States would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan last year, after sending an additional 30,000 US troops to the region as part of his surge strategy.
According to administration and military officials, the Obama administration has decided to de-emphasize its plans to begin withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan starting July 2011, instead focusing on a 2014 withdrawal date.
“And 2014 is now a date that everyone has agreed upon, NATO as well as the Afghanis, that’s kind of the drop-dead date,” Vice President Joe Biden said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to have anywhere near 100,000 troops in 2013.”
“We’ve already lost 1,400 men and women there and more this year, some 450 people, than any other of the nine years we’ve been there,” said Rep. Timothy Johnson, a Republican from Illinois who cosigned the letter. “I doubt our country is any safer for that loss of life and the expenditure of well over $1 trillion in tax dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“Afghanistan doesn’t have an exclusive haven for terrorists who wish us harm. They’re all over and there are smarter, more effective ways of containing them than the conventional strategies being employed in Afghanistan.”
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who also cosigned the letter, said he plans to force Congress to vote on withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan.
“When the new 112th Congress convenes in January, I will immediately enter a privileged resolution that will force Congress to vote on setting a withdrawal date,” he said. “The withdrawal of our troops must be driven by Congress, not the corrupt president of Afghanistan. Expanding the timeline constitutes a de facto expansion of the war without Congressional approval.”
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Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image "gut-wrenching."
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But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.