The ten-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan is a somber moment. We must honor the ultimate sacrifice made by nearly 2,000 brave Americans. Congress authorized this war with good intentions -- to respond to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001. We went after Osama bin Laden -- who orchestrated the attacks -- and a large majority of his al Qaeda followers. Ten years later, things have changed. Bin Laden is dead. al Qaeda has scattered around the world. And Afghanistan is in the midst of an internal struggle to weed out corruption and form a legitimate democracy. With bin Laden dead and al Qaeda largely gone from Afghanistan, I believe it is long past time to bring our troops home. On this 10th anniversary, I offer 10 reasons we should end the war in Afghanistan.
1. Cost: Taxpayers have spent more than $454 billion on the war in Afghanistan. That is enough to pay for the president's jobs plan.
2. Economy: Our economy is still struggling because of high unemployment. The $130 billion a year that has been spent on wars in the last decade could have created 936,000 education jobs, 780,000 health care jobs, and 364,000 construction jobs. The unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is 11.7 percent.
3. Debt: Our national debt is $14 trillion and needs to be reduced. But instead of cutting programs for seniors and the needy, we should stop spending $130 billion a year on a war that isn't making us safer.
4. Lives: More than 1,700 service members have died in the war in Afghanistan, including four from my Congressional District. August 2011 was the deadliest month of the 10-year war. In addition, 18 veterans a day are committing suicide. It is time to stop the bloodshed.
5. Length: Afghanistan is now the longest war in American history, passing the boondoggle in Vietnam. Our country simply cannot afford war without end.
6. The Wounded: Over 3,000 U.S. troops have been seriously wounded in Afghanistan, many with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
7. Bin Laden: In 2001, we went to war in Afghanistan in order to capture or kill Bin Laden. Ten years later we finally brought him to justice, but it was 20 Navy Seals not 100,000 troops that carried out the mission. Clearly, smart intelligence and targeted attacks are a more effective way to fight al Qaeda than a large military footprint.
8. National Security: It is estimated that there are fewer than 50 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. So who exactly are we fighting? Furthermore, our continued presence there is serving as a recruiting tool for terrorists around the world.
9. Future: The United States is losing the competitiveness race as countries like India and China invest in education, technology and innovation. With so much money going to war, we are unable to keep up. The $130 billion that will be spent in Afghanistan this year could be used to create 21st century jobs here at home.
10. American People: As is often the case, the American people are way ahead of Congress on this issue. A strong majority believes we should bring our troops home and focus on rebuilding bridges, roads, and schools here in the United States, not Afghanistan. We should take our cue from them.