May 27, 2011

Congress Almost Enacts The Will Of The People On Afghanistan

The U.S. House of Representatives came tantalizingly close to enacting the will of the majority of Americans yesterday. AP:

A measure requiring an accelerated timetable for pulling out the 100,000 troops from Afghanistan and an exit strategy for the nearly 10-year-old conflict secured 204 votes in the House, falling just short of passage but boosting the hopes of its surprised proponents.

"It sends a strong signal to the president that the U.S. House of Representatives and the American people want change," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said shortly after the vote.

Obama will begin drawing down some of the troops in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. McGovern and others fear that the initial reduction will be a token cut of some 5,000, numbers they argue fail to reflect that Osama bin Laden is gone and the United States can't afford spending $10 billion a month on the war.

It seems Congress has a fair number of representatives with an ability to see this reality: we can't mold Afghanistan. We've accomplished as much as we can our rationale for being there. We don't need to be there to defend ourselves -- militant beliefs are only defeated by time and new ideas, only these, and there are much better ways to defend ourselves and defeat terrorism. Looking at the bigger picture, our security depends not only on making smarter choices, but more...fundamental changes.

Finally, Congress is beginning to move towards a piece of common sense we once took for granted before we became such an interventionist nation. The Washington Post:

President Barack Obama will begin drawing down some of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. But that timetable is unacceptable to a growing number of war-weary lawmakers, who argue that the death of the al-Qaida leader is an opportunity for the United States to recalibrate its strategy.

“The successful mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden has raised many questions about the effectiveness of America’s strategy to combat terrorism through a now 10-year-old nation-building effort in a deeply corrupt Afghanistan, especially in light of the serious fiscal challenges we face at home,” Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.

They said it would be more effective to use “a targeted, worldwide counter-terrorism strategy similar to the intelligence and special operations mission that located and killed bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.”

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