Feingold, McGovern, Jones Call On President to Set a Flexible Timetable to Remove Troops from Afghanistan

For Immediate Release

Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Jim McGovern and Rep. Walter Jones
Contact: 

Zach Lowe (Feingold) - (202) 224-8657
Michael Mershon (McGovern) - (202) 225-6101
Catherine Fodor (Jones) - (202) 224-3415

Feingold, McGovern, Jones Call On President to Set a Flexible Timetable to Remove Troops from Afghanistan

Bipartisan Group of Legislators Write President to Express Concern that the U.S. Military Strategy for Afghanistan is Not in our National Security Interest

WASHINGTON - In a letter sent to
President Barack Obama today, U.S. Senator
Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and
Walter
Jones (R-NC) urged him to set a flexible timetable for removing U.S.
troops
from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counterterrorism
strategy for
the region.  The bipartisan group of legislators suggested that
"rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in
Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda's global
network."  The text of the letter is below and a copy can be
downloaded here.

April
8, 2010

The
President

The
White House

1600
Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington,
D.C. 20500

 

Dear
Mr. President,

We
are very concerned that the United States' military strategy in
Afghanistan is not in our best national security interest and makes us
dependent upon an unreliable partner in the Afghan government, as recent
events
highlight.  An open-ended, military-centric nation-building campaign in
Afghanistan is risky and not necessary to protect the United States, and
it
undercuts our ability to pursue al Qaeda's global network. 
Moreover, we are concerned that it may increase instability in
Afghanistan, as
well as Pakistan -- where al Qaeda's leadership is located -- at the
expense of other approaches that could conserve both lives and
resources. 
In this light, we urge you to set a flexible timetable for removing U.S.
troops
from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counterterrorism
strategy for
the region.

The
attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day serves as a reminder that we
have
not been adequately prioritizing the need to track down al Qaeda,
especially in
emerging safe havens such as Yemen.  Rather than investing a
disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to
shift
resources to pursuing al Qaeda's global network.

Borrowing
tens of billions of dollars to pay for military operations in
Afghanistan has
implications not only for our broader national security needs, but also
here at
home, particularly
given
current record deficits, high unemployment and proposed reductions in
domestic spending.  Our domestic priorities, as well as our ability to
address
effectively our security needs, have suffered from this diversion of
funds and
resources.

Setting
a timetable for the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops does not mean
ceasing our
engagement in Afghanistan and the region.  Our continued commitment to
assist the people of Afghanistan will remain important in supporting the
emergence of responsive and capable government institutions that can
address
the socioeconomic and political issues destabilizing the country. 
However, we need to recognize that corruption and lack of legitimacy in
the
Afghan government make our current approach unlikely to succeed.  While
we
appreciate your efforts to hold President Karzai accountable, his recent
outbursts only raise more questions about his willingness to take the
necessary
steps to address corruption and security on which our current strategy
relies.     

We
should not spend tens of billions of dollars or ask a hundred thousand
U.S.
service members to risk their lives unnecessarily.  Rather, we should
transition to a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy for the region
based on
an orderly timetable.  Such a timetable could be flexible, but it would
need to clearly specify any variables that would warrant its
alteration. 

We
urge you to set forth a timetable for the redeployment of U.S. troops
and
appreciate your consideration.

Sincerely,

__________________________                                     
________________________

Russell
D.
Feingold                                                             
Walter
Jones

United
States
Senator                                                         
Member
of Congress

 

 

__________________________

James
McGovern

Member
of Congress

###

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