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Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee

Posted: November 19, 2010 04:29 PM

Today, President Obama announced a 2014 timeline for U.S. and NATO forces to transition leadership of security responsibilities in Afghanistan to Afghan forces.

The President's 2014 announcement comes in advance of his scheduled December review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, pre-empting any meaningful evaluation of the progress, feasibility, or assumptions behind the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Not only does this commitment push back the goal posts for concluding a decade of open-ended war, it delays the tough decisions that will need to be made upon acknowledging the true reality in Afghanistan -- our military-first strategy simply isn't working.

The President's 2014 proposal does offer a few certainties, however, notably more coalition and civilian casualties, the construction and maintenance of more military bases and facilities, and added profits for the more than 74,000 private contractors currently operating in Afghanistan.

Today, I joined a bipartisan group of 63 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to the President opposing any action that would delay the complete redeployment of U.S troops from Afghanistan or commit our nation to fighting in Afghanistan through 2014.

I have long said that if you had told the American people nine years ago that we would still be in Afghanistan, even after al Qaeda was gone, perhaps there would have been a debate about the invasion. A growing number of Members of Congress are questioning why we are in Afghanistan, because if history is any judge, we know what we will see in Afghanistan in 2014- the military generals asking for more time and more resources.

Since 2002, U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan have increased from roughly 5,000 to 100,000. As the United States has further entrenched itself militarily in Afghanistan, things on the ground have gone from bad to worse.

2010 has become the deadliest year-to-date for U.S. forces as well as Afghan civilians.

Despite being cited as the Taliban's No. 1 recruiting tool by Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, corruption has become so pervasive throughout the Karzai regime that U.S. officials are deemphasizing high-level anti-corruption efforts for fear of alienating our Afghan political counterparts upon which our counterinsurgency strategy depends.

Military and foreign policy experts agree that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform have performed with incredible courage and commitment -- but they have been put in an impossible situation.

That is why last fall, a bipartisan group of 100 House Members voted in support of my amendment to limit funding in Afghanistan to the safe, orderly redeployment of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan.

As Congress weighs the prospect of three more years of war in Afghanistan, currently costing $100 billion per year, I expect more Members to join in this effort.

On August 31, 2010, President Obama assured the American people that "open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's." The American people agree Mr. President, and most importantly, they oppose this war.

It is time for the Administration and for Congress to come together and end, rather than prolong, America's longest war.