Sep 15, 2009
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has joined Wisconsin Sen. Russ
Feingold in declaring that the United States needs to start
thinking about how to extract its military from Afghanistan.
While almost 100 members of the House (including many conservative
Republicans) have signed on to Massachusetts Congressman Jim
McGovern's call for the development of an Afghanistan exit
strategy, Feingold has been a relatively lonely Senate advocate for
a rethink of the eight-year occupation.
At the annual Fighting
Bob Fest gathering in Baraboo, however, Sanders drew cheers
from the crowd of 8,000 when he said, "We need to take a very, very
hard look at our war in Afghanistan. We need to be clear in our
goals and we need a real discussion about an exit strategy to bring
our troops home."
Sanders made his statement at the largest annual gathering of
grass-roots activists in the Midwest, where there was no question
of the crowd's enthusiasm for the "Health Care Not Warfare" message
promoted by activists with Progressive Democrats of
Prior to coming to Wisconsin for the event, Sanders explained his
views on the need to rethink Afghanistan in a video produced as
part of the Brave New Films "Senator Sanders
In it, he said:
"My major concern about the war in Afghanistan, and why I voted
against the recent defense authorization bill, is that we seem to
be getting sucked into a quagmire without the kind of debate,
without the kind of discussion that this country desperately needs
and that the people of our country are entitled. What we know now
is that the number of troops that the generals are requesting is
going up and up. We know that we ... have already poured several
hundred billion dollars into Afghanistan; that number is going to
go up. But we don't know what the goals of our efforts in
Afghanistan are or what kind of exit strategy we have.
"I worry that Afghanistan will be another Vietnam. I worry that
Afghanistan will be another Iraq. We've been there eight years
already, and how many more years are we supposed to be there? How
many more American troops are supposed to die? How many more tens
and tens of billions of dollars are we supposed to be spending at a
time when we have a record-breaking deficit? I find it amusing that
some of my more conservative friends are saying, 'Well, we can't
afford to spend more money on health care in this country. We can't
afford to spend more money on education or environmental
protection. But, yes, we can afford to pump tens and tens of
billions more into the war in Afghanistan.' "
Sanders says: "We need a real national discussion of an exit
strategy, a real national discussion about what our goals are. We
haven't had that and the American people should be demanding
Sanders is doing his part to open the discussion. And the muscular
reaction to his statements made it clear that the American people
are making the demand.
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