Anti-War Left Presses Obama to Bring Home the Troops

May 5, 2011 - 4:57 AM

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

(CNSNews.com) - Democrats in Congress and a liberal advocacy group are urging President Obama to make a "significant and sizeable" reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan following the death of Osama bin Laden.

In a May 4 letter to the president, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and five fellow Democrats wrote that with bin Laden dead, "now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan.”

MoveOn.org, meanwhile, is seeking signatures for a petition that reads: "President Obama, we need to end the war in Afghanistan. Please keep your commitment to begin an accelerated withdrawal of troops in July."

The liberal advocacy group says the war in Afghanistan is draining resources that could be better used at home. It is seeking 125,000 signatures on its petition to give President Obama "the public support he needs” to order the withdrawal of a “significant” number of U.S. troops.

President Obama in 2009 announced a troop surge in Afghanistan. At the same time, he said he would begin to pull troops out of that country starting this July. He has not indicated how many he plans to bring home.

Foreign policy experts, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, have warned Obama that a “politically driven withdrawal of substantial U.S. forces will squander the victories won in Afghanistan since the 2009 surge.”

In their letter to the president, Rep. Lee and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus praised Obama for acting “decisively” in eliminating bin Laden, commended his calls for national and global “solidarity” – and urged him to “unify the nation by bringing our troops home and ending America’s longest war in history,”

The May 4 letter reads as 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.

The letter is signed by Reps. Lee, Keith Ellison (D-Minn.),Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Michael Honda (D-Calif.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).