Nine years ago on September 14, 2001, I placed the lone vote against the "Authorization for Use of Military Force" -- an authorization that I knew would provide a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length.
It is deeply disappointing that after nine years of war, thousands of American casualties, and the inability of the Afghan government to rise above its corruption and incompetence, we are no closer to ending our role in this conflict.
Just as I predicted it would, this report tells us almost nothing new, assuring us that if we just continue to do what we're doing, everything will work out in the end. There are fewer and fewer Americans who believe that, and the time has come to reorient United States foreign policy to meet the threat of terrorism in a more effective and sustainable manner.
I take no pleasure in having my fears about this war vindicated. But from the time I was the only member of Congress to vote against the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" in 2001, all the way up to today, we have heard again and again that things will improve and the war can come to an end soon. Instead, we find ourselves in a tragic Afghan version of Groundhog Day, in which brave American service-members give life and limb in a conflict without end.
At home, individuals and families across the nation are struggling to gain meaningful employment, put food on the table, and ensure a life of opportunity for future generations.
Meanwhile, critical human needs as well as much-needed investments in our nation's infrastructure, schools, and domestic clean energy production have been pushed aside while we consider massive tax cuts to benefit the wealthiest few.
We should not and can not afford to extend a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan that is costing us well over $100 billion per year and ultimately making our nation less safe.
The president's commitment to the start of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in July of 2011 is incompatible with military generals' qualified support based on "conditions on the ground," and their inevitable interpretation that the situation in Afghanistan demands more time, more lives, and more resources. I urge President Obama to demonstrate his resolve by immediately pledging significant and meaningful reductions to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beginning in July of 2011.
We must end America's longest war and we must bring our troops home.
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