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24 Million People and 81 Congressmembers Push President on Afghanistan Withdrawal

Washington, DC — March 16th, 2010 — 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.

 

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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 http://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika

 

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.

Sincerely,

 

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. Raúl 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 Luján

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. Sánchez

Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky

Rep. Bobby Scott

Rep. José 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

Director

Afghanistan Study Group

 

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

 

Robert Greenwald

Director

Brave New Foundation / Rethink Afghanistan

 

William C. Goodfellow

Executive Director

Center for International Policy

 

Medea Benjamin

Cofounder

CODEPINK: Women for Peace

 

John Isaacs

Executive Director

Council for a Livable World

 

Michael Kieschnick

Chief Executive Officer

CREDO

 

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

Director

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

 

Justin Ruben

Executive Director

MoveOn.org Political Action

 

Terry O'Neill

President

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

President

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

Director

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)

 

Jean Stokan

Director, Justice Team

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

 

Dr. Lisa Schirch

Director

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

Co-President

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