DNC Pressures Obama, Passes Resolution Endorsing Swift End To Afghanistan War
WASHINGTON -- Members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gave President Obama a rare push on Saturday, adopting a resolution attempting to encourage the administration to move toward a speedier withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The DNC is currently holding its annual winter meeting, where its hundreds of members from all around the country converge in Washington, D.C. to discuss finances, debate resolutions, and of course, figure out how elect (and re-elect) Democrats -- including Obama -- in 2012.
The resolution adopted Saturday states that "the Democratic Party supports prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011."
The resolution cites the length of the war (nearly ten years), the cost (more than $100 billion per year), the lack of public support (72 percent want to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan") and the argument that the conflict does not require a military solution.
"The passage of my resolution places the Democratic Party squarely on the side of American people who overwhelmingly support a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan, beginning with a significant and sizeable reduction in U.S. troop levels by no later than July of this year," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who submitted the resolution. Other submitters were DNC Vice Chairs Donna Brazile and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and DNC Secretary Alice Germond.
The Obama administration's policy is to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 and fully transfer security responsibilities over to Afghan forces by 2014. The pace of withdrawal is yet to be determined.
As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year, "We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces. The pace with which we draw down and how many we draw down is going to be conditions-based."
The DNC resolution pushes the administration to see to "a significant and sizable reduction" in July, or even sooner -- a prospect the administration has not endorsed.
Lee recently introduced legislation in Congress that would end combat operations in Afghanistan and limit funding to the redeployment of U.S. troops and military contractors. The measure attracted nearly 50 co-sponsors.
DNC resolutions are meant to express the sentiment of the party's members. Other measures approved at the winter meeting this year, which took place Feb. 24-26, include ones honoring the work of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), expressing solidarity with Wisconsin's protesters and memorializing Elizabeth Edwards.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Resolution Supporting Ending the War in Afghanistan Now and Transferring the Funding to Job Creation, other Crucial Domestic Priorities and Deficit Reduction
Submitted by: Hon. Barbara Lee, California
Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair/District of Columbia
Hon. Mike Honda, DNC Vice Chair/California
Alice Germond, DNC Secretary/West Virginia
WHEREAS, the United States has been involved in war in Afghanistan for almost a decade and remains militarily engaged in what has become the longest war in American history; and
WHEREAS, the mounting costs of the war in Afghanistan, now totaling over $100 billion a year, have constrained efforts to invest in job creation and in strengthening our country and our economy; and
WHEREAS, according to a Gallup Poll released February 2, 2011, 72% of Americans favor action to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan"; and
WHEREAS, President Obama supports a transition to an Afghan-led security arrangement in Afghanistan "because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's"; and
WHEREAS, a diplomatic solution in Afghanistan that emphasizes economic development, political reconciliation and inclusion, the engagement of regional and global stakeholders, and the safeguarding of basic human rights is essential to ensure long-term stability in Afghanistan and the surrounding region; and
WHEREAS, military and intelligence officials agree that the situation in Afghanistan will not ultimately be resolved by a military solution; and
WHEREAS, the national and economic security of the United States depend upon a national defense strategy which addresses the modern threat of global terrorism in an effective, sustainable, and comprehensive manner; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Party recognizes the enormous strain placed on the U.S. military servicemembers, and their families since 2001 as a result of continuing engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains committed to ensuring that our troops have the support that they require when deployed as well as the care that they and their families need and deserve when they return home;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Party supports prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011.