The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Paul Kawika Martin

24 Million People and 81 Congressmembers Push President on Afghanistan Withdrawal

Hours after General David Petraeus claimed progress on Afghanistan in front Congress, 81 Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama asking that his planned July drawdown of troops from the country be "significant and sizeable." Thirty-one religious, foreign policy and membership-based organizations, representing nearly 24 million people supported the letter.


Hours after General David Petraeus claimed progress on Afghanistan in front Congress, 81 Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama asking that his planned July drawdown of troops from the country be "significant and sizeable." Thirty-one religious, foreign policy and membership-based organizations, representing nearly 24 million people supported the letter.

Paul Kawika Martin, the political and policy director of Peace Action -- a group founded in 1957 and the largest grassroots peace organization in the U.S. -- organized groups to support the letter and stated, "With tragic budget shortfalls in our communities, it's time to transition from extremely expensive and counterproductive Pentagon strategies in Afghanistan to political negotiations and Afghan-led aid and development."
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), who organized the congressional letter said, "The American people overwhelmingly favor action to speed up U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It is time to end this war and to refocus our efforts on job creation and strengthening our economy."
Polls continue to show that Americans have long turned against the war in Afghanistan. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war is no longer worth fighting and three-quarters of Americans want the President to withdraw a "substantial number" of troops this summer.
Peace Action is leading a coalition of groups collecting signatures from Obama supporters and donors asking for a significant change in strategy in Afghanistan and for troops to start coming home now and the U.S. military presence end before the Obama administration's stated deadline of 2014.
"If the President wants to get reelected in 2012, it's clear he needs to convince his base and independent voters that he is ending the war in Afghanistan by bringing troops home in significant numbers no later than July," concluded Martin.
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The public may learn more and take action at For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action's political director on Twitter.
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Editors Notes:
1. Text of the congressional letter:
March 16, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you to express our utmost support for your planned drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beginning no later than July of this year. We, the undersigned members of Congress, believe the forthcoming reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan must be significant and sizeable, and executed in an orderly fashion.

Our nation's economic and national security interests are not served by a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan. At a time of severe economic distress, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States more than $100 billion per year, excluding the long-term costs of care for returning military servicemembers. At the same time, military and intelligence officials agree that Al Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan is diminished and that there will not be a military solution to resolve the current situation. It is simply unsustainable for our nation to maintain a costly, military-first strategy in Afghanistan.

A significant redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 will send a clear signal that the United States does not seek a permanent presence in Afghanistan. This transition will provide incentive for internal stakeholders to improve upon the political status quo, reduce corruption, and take meaningful steps toward the establishment of an effective, trustworthy, and inclusive governance structure. A meaningful start to withdrawal will also empower U.S. diplomatic engagement with regional and global stakeholders who share a common interest in the long-term stability of Afghanistan.

The majority of the American people overwhelmingly support a rapid shift toward withdrawal in Afghanistan. In fact, a Gallup Poll released on February 2, 2011 indicated that 72% of Americans favor action this year to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan." Let us be clear. The redeployment of a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July will not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.

Mr. President, as you work to finally bring an end to the war in Iraq by the end of this year, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that our nation's military engagement in Afghanistan does not become the status quo. It is time to focus on securing a future of economic opportunity and prosperity for the American people and move swiftly to end America's longest war in Afghanistan.

Mr. President, we look forward to working with you to make that goal a reality.

Full list of co-signers:

Rep. Joe Baca
Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Karen Bass
Rep. Lois Capps
Rep. Michael E. Capuano
Rep. Andre Carson
Rep. Yvette D. Clarke
Rep. Steve Cohen
Rep. John Conyers Jr.
Rep. Jerry F. Costello
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
Rep. Danny K. Davis (IL)
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro
Rep. Theodore E. Deutch
Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (TN)
Rep. Donna F. Edwards
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Sam Farr
Rep. Bob Filner
Rep. Barney Frank
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge
Rep. John Garamendi
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings
Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey
Rep. Mazie K. Hirono
Rep. Rush D. Holt
Rep. Michael M. Honda
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Rep. Hank Johnson Jr.
Rep. Timothy V. Johnson
Rep. Walter B. Jones
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. John B. Larson
Rep. John Lewis
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney
Rep. Edward J. Markey
Rep. Doris O. Matsui
Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. James P. McGovern
Rep. Michael H. Michaud
Rep. George Miller
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. James P. Moran
Rep. Christopher S. Murphy
Rep. Grace Napolitano
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Rep. John W. Olver
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.
Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Donald M. Payne
Rep. Chellie Pingree
Rep. Jared Polis
Rep. David E. Price
Rep. Mike Quigley
Rep, Charles B. Rangel
Rep. Laura Richardson
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez
Rep. Loretta Sanchez
Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky
Rep. Bobby Scott
Rep. Jose E. Serrano
Rep. Albio Sires
Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Rep. Jackie Speier
Rep. Pete Stark
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA)
Rep. John F. Tierney
Rep. Edolphus Towns
Rep. Niki Tsongas
Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Anthony D. Weiner
Rep. Peter Welch
Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey
2. List of 31 organizations and individuals that supported the congressional letter:
Paul Kawika Martin
Policy & Political Director
Peace Action
Matthew Hoh
Afghanistan Study Group
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Robert Greenwald
Brave New Foundation / Rethink Afghanistan
William C. Goodfellow
Executive Director
Center for International Policy
Medea Benjamin
CODEPINK: Women for Peace
John Isaacs
Executive Director
Council for a Livable World
Michael Kieschnick
Chief Executive Officer
Carolyn Scarr
Program Coordinator
Ecumenical Peace Institute
Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Jonathan W. Evans
Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation
James E. Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
Carleen Pickard
Associate Director
Global Exchange
Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy
Marie Dennis
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Justin Ruben
Executive Director Political Action
Terry O'Neill
National Organization for Women
Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Steve Clemons
Senior Fellow & Founder, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation*
David Krieger
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Dave Robinson
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA
Tom Hayden
Peace and Justice Resource Center
Peter Wilk, M.D.
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)
Tim Carpenter
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)
Jean Stokan
Director, Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Dr. Lisa Schirch
3D Security Initiative
Rusti Eisenberg & Gael Murphy
Legislative Coordinators
United for Peace and Justice
Michael Eisenscher
National Coordinator
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
Susan Shaer
Executive Director
Women's Action for New Directions
Nancy Munger
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
Tom Andrews
National Director
Win Without War (a coalition of 40 national organizations)
*For identification purposes only

Peace Action is the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.