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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Jim McGovern and Rep. Walter Jones
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 - April 8 - 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 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.
Member of Congress