Friday, May 27, 2011

About Damned Time

A bit of refreshing news this morning: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) thinks it's time to end our presence in Afghanistan and has written an op-ed piece to explain just why.

She reminds us that the Senate voted ten years ago to allow the use of military force in Afghanistan to punish those who attacked us and those who gave the attackers safe-haven. She maintains that with the death of Osama bin Laden and the weakening of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan there is no further reason for spending $10 billion a month there (we're up to about half-trillion dollars at this point).

Although we must remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and must continue our support for the Afghan people, there is simply no justification for the continued deployment of 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan. This July, the president should expedite his promised withdrawal of our combat forces. Moreover, we should now set an end date for the U.S. deployment there. ...

We have to be realistic about what we can achieve in Afghanistan. The notion that the United States can build a Western-style democracy there is a myth. Instead, we should focus on what we can and must accomplish: preventing Al Qaeda from threatening the United States, and supporting Afghans as they determine the way forward.

Boxer, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has some support from the Republicans on the issue, will be calling on President Obama to keep his promise to start withdrawing troops and to provide an exit strategy with specific dates. Nearly 60% of the American public agree that it's time.

Some of us thought ten years ago that the idea of starting a war in Afghanistan was a bad idea and the Authorization of the Use of Military Force a dangerous precedent. We were right. The AUMF proved to be a handy tool for an entrance into Iraq by President Bush and for military skirmishes in Libya by President Obama. The Senate should also consider repealing that authorization so that presidents have to come back to the Senate before proceeding with other military excursions. I won't be holding my breath for that.

In the mean time, however, it is gratifying to note the movement towards ending the longest war in US history. As Sen. Boxer points out, there are other ways to fight terrorism, ways that won't cost us $10 billion a month.

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