Two weeks ago, nine Afghan children between the ages of nine and fifteen were killed by a NATO strike after being mistaken for insurgents. General Petraeus issued an apology and promised to investigate the killings, but news of their deaths quickly sparked anti-U.S. protests. They were killed in the Pech Valley, an area of Afghanistan once considered vital to U.S. military strategy. But now the U.S. military will soon be withdrawing from the Pech Valley after realizing that our presence was destabilizing the area.
The reality is our presence is destabilizing more than the Pech Valley — it’s propping up a corrupt regime and fueling an insurgency, all while Afghan’s see little to no improvement in their lives. And it’s destabilizing Americans at home. While vital services and benefits get cut — such as the Community Development Block Grants and the WIC program which provides low-income expecting mothers and infants with proper nutrition — we continue to fund an expensive war with no end in sight.
Last Wednesday, joined by members of both parties including Representatives Ron Paul, Walter Jones, Pete Stark, Bob Filner, and Barbara Lee, I announced a new bill to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan by the end of this year. Our legislation invokes the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which, if enacted, would require the President to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces out of Afghanistan by December 31, 2011. This legislation has bi-partisan support, and, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, a majority of Americans want us out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. A vote will be held on Thursday. We could end the war this week.
There is simply no rationale for continuing American involvement with no end in sight, rising deaths for civilians and our brave soldiers, declining public sentiment, and serious economic pain at home. Continuing our involvement in Afghanistan is not affordable, it’s not just, and it hurts American foreign policy interests. It’s time to go.
While Congress pulls unemployment benefits from suffering Ohio families and proposes slashing health care benefits, vital children’s programs, and veterans’ services all because we’re “broke,” it continues to fund a war that has cost us more than $455 billion. We are told we should cut funding for assistance to low-income families with one hand, while with the other hand tens of billions of dollars are approved for a war that does nothing to further our national security. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the average American family of four almost $13,000 last year.
Our priorities are simply out of sync. Desperately needed unemployment benefits were filibustered last year because the costs to provide them were not offset with spending cuts or revenue increases. But we are not required to offset the costs of war, even when the war is completely funded by borrowed money – money we have to pay back with interest on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
And we are spending all this money on a war that is a waste of time, blood, and treasure. And the situation is getting worse, not better. 2010 was the deadliest year of the entire campaign. 700 brave soldiers, mostly Americans, were killed. Civilian deaths are on the rise too — up 15% in 2010. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the commitment of an additional 30,000 troops and over $36 billion to the surge in Afghanistan, it is clear our strategy is not working. And we cannot afford to sustain it any longer.
The American people are being asked to shoulder the costs for wars that undermine our national, moral and economic security and opposition is growing. We must ask ourselves whose nation we are building when we ask people here at home to give up benefits they have earned in order to nation-build abroad.
We must not let this continue. Please call your Congressperson now — and ask them to support House Concurrent Resolution 28 to end the war in Afghanistan. We’re expecting a vote on Thursday, so please act now.