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Kucinich Plans to Force Vote on US Withdrawal from Afghanistan
For Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement Tuesday that his country would need the US's military support for another 10 or 15 years seems to have been the last straw.
The outspoken House representative says it was Karzai's statement that prompted him to draft a resolution calling for a House vote on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"We shouldn't be there another 15 to 20 months, let alone 15 to 20 years," Kucinich told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "When I'm in my district talking to people, nobody has come up to me and said we need to be in Afghanistan for the next 15 to 20 years. They do say we need jobs, we need to protect our basic industry, we need education, we need to protect retirement security. I'd like to see us start taking care of things here at home."
Kucinich is circulating a letter (PDF) among congressional colleagues asking them to co-sponsor his resolution.
My bills, which would trigger a timeline for a timely withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan, invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and are intended to secure the Constitutional role of Congress, as directly elected representatives of the people, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, to decide whether or not America enters into war, continues a war, or otherwise introduces armed forces or material into combat zones.
Despite the president's assertion that previous congressional action gives him the authority to respond to the attacks of September 11, 2001, a careful reading of the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) makes cleat that the AUMF did not supersede "any requirement of the War Powers Resolution" and therefore did not undermine Congress' ability to revisit the constitutional question of war powers at a later date.
"We cannot afford these wars. We cannot afford the loss of lives. We cannot afford the cost to taxpayers. We cannot afford to fail to exercise our constitutional right to end the wars," Kucinich said in a statement circulated among reporters on Wednesday.
Kucinich told the Plain Dealer he expects his resolution to land at the House International Relations Committee early next year. If the resolution is voted down, he will ask to have it moved back to the floor of the House -- a maneuver that earlier this year allowed him to debate the impeachment of former Vice President Dick Cheney on the House floor, the Plain Dealer notes.
During a visit by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Kabul on Tuesday, President Karzai told the Pentagon chief that Afghanistan would need the US's help in security matters for 10 or 15 years going forward. President Obama's plan to start withdrawing troops in July 2011 has sparked concern in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan that the Taliban could sit out the surge and attack a pared down force in 18 months' time.
"For 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources," Karzai told a news conference. "We hope that the international community and the United States, as our first ally, will help Afghanistan reach the ability to sustain a force."
-- With Agence France-Presse