WASHINGTON – House progressive leaders on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to swiftly end the war in Afghanistan, capitalizing on a burst of new momentum to conclude the 10-year occupation after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
"In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan," read a letter signed by House Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), as well as CPC Peace & Security Task Force Co-Chairs Michael Honda (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
"We are hopeful that Osama Bin Laden's death will offer comfort to the families of the victims of unconscionable attacks on innocent life that have occurred throughout the world and on 9/11," they wrote, asking the president to support a "near-term and significant drawdown" of troops starting in July.
The remarks mirror similar calls from members of Congress in the wake of bin Laden's death. Polls suggest as much as two-thirds of the public opposes the war and no longer deems it worth fighting.
The news may be Obama's best opportunity to pull out of Afghanistan while minimizing accusations of conceding defeat, which have colored the debate.
After initially vowing to being pulling troops out this July, the administration postponed withdrawal to 2014.
The full text of the letter follows.
Dear Mr. President,
In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan. We, the undersigned Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), strongly urge you to announce plans for a near-term and significant drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan beginning no later than July of this year.
On March 16, 2011, 81 Members of Congress sent you a letter asserting that the forthcoming reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan must be significant and sizeable, and executed in an orderly fashion. This bipartisan message stressed the urgency of creating economic opportunities here at home and said that the redeployment of only a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July would not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.
Mr. President, we are hopeful that Osama Bin Laden’s death will offer comfort to the families of the victims of unconscionable attacks on innocent life that have occurred throughout the world and on 9/11. You acted decisively in your efforts to capture the mastermind behind those tragic events and we commend your calls for national and global solidarity as we acknowledge the world is safer for his absence.
It is our hope that you can similarly unify the nation by bringing our troops home and ending America’s longest war in history— a position supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.
The death of Osama Bin Laden certainly does not represent an end to Al-Qaeda. As we seek a future free of the threat of global terrorism, we must work to implement smart security policies that are both effective and sustainable. Ending the war in Afghanistan is a critical step toward refocusing U.S. resources and security assets to serve that vital purpose.