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Rep. Chellie Pingree Headshot

Facing the Future in Afghanistan

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The long-awaited day of Osama bin Laden's death brings with it a number of emotions that many of us have shared in the past few days.

It brings us all a measure of relief in knowing that he no longer threatens to strike again and that we have undermined the strength of the al Qaeda network in a very serious way. We share in the enormous gratitude for the security and intelligence forces that successfully lead the operation to find him. And, most importantly, we hope that the families of 9/11 victims -- and our wounded nation -- will find some closure and sense of justice.

But the war in Afghanistan continues, and this reality challenges all of us to ask how we should proceed from here. President Obama made two commitments in the war on terror: to bring bin Laden to justice and to accelerate a transition out of Afghanistan starting this July. He has renewed the confidence of the world by fulfilling that first commitment in such a masterful way, but I sincerely hope that the president and Congress can now move forward to begin withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan.

(I have started a petition urging President Obama to follow through on a withdrawal from Afghanistan. You can sign here.)

The country has paid far too much and far too long for a war that has not made us safer. We've lost thousands of brave men and women to fighting in Afghanistan and our occupation of that country has given extremists fodder for recruitment. Meanwhile, we now spend nearly $7 billion a month for operations in Afghanistan, as Congress slashes health care and education at home to cut a budget deficit.

The time has come to bring our troops home -- and the operation to kill bin Laden only gives further proof of that. Success came not in Iraq or Afghanistan, not with nation building or hundreds of billions of dollars, but with good intelligence and a targeted effort. I hope this efficient, successful operation gives us a model for using our resources to their greatest effect.

The question today rings louder and clearer than ever: What are we doing in Afghanistan? As bin Laden's death brings some measure of closure to a wounded nation, I hope it also helps brings closure to this decade-long war.