Thursday, May 05, 2011

With Osama Found, a Congresswoman Asks: Where's the Afghanistan Exit Strategy?

This is the Key question America.--KAS

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May 3, 2011

With Osama Found, a Congresswoman Asks: Where's the Afghanistan Exit Strategy?
By John Nichols

From The Nation

Wasn't the point of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden?

And if that was the point then, isn't it time -- with the news that Osama has been tracked down not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan -- to bring the troops and the war dollars home?

These are the questions that Congress should be asking this week.

While it is appropriate enough to investigate what the Pakistanis knew and when they knew it -- as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, suggests when he says Pakistani intelligence and military officials "have some explaining to do" -- most members of Congress are avoiding the fundamental issue that is raised by the killing of bin Laden.

But Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, gets it.

"Early in his term, President Obama committed to two goals: hunt down and capture or kill Osama bin Laden and begin an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011," notes the second-term House member. On Sunday, Pingree notes, "he fulfilled that first commitment."

Now, the congresswoman says: "I am asking the President to keep his commitment to an accelerated withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

And she is not asking on her own.

Pingree has begun a petition campaign, asking her constituents in Maine and citizens across the country to sign onto a statement to Obama that reads: "We commend you for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. Please keep your commitment of an accelerated withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning this July."

Pingree promises to compile all the signatures and deliver them to President Obama.

"In this time of reflection, I have new hope that we can end a decade of war and bring our troops home quickly," the congresswoman says. "I hope you'll take a moment to send the President the message that now is the time to bring home our brave men and women and let our country move on to tackle the many other problems we face."

Pingree's push is being paralleled by a new campaign on the part of Progressive Democrats of America for California Congresswoman Barbara Lee's "Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act," which has attracted 60 cosponsors.

"Bin Laden was an angry, violent man who reaped what he sowed. Now that we have our pound of flesh, we, too, will reap what we've sown in the War on Terror unless we tether the dogs of war now and exit Afghanistan, as soon as humanly possible. This long-awaited event will, as Martin Luther King said, "bend the arc of history." But in which direction? Let's do everything in our power to bend the arc away from vengeance and towards peace and environmental, economic, and social justice ," writes PDA national director Tim Carpenter. " We no longer have a mission in Afghanistan. We can expect the war hounds to bark out new excuses to stay in Afghanistan and even escalate. We must keep reminding Congress that the mission has ended: It's time to bring our troops and war dollars home."

Pingree and PDA are right: it's time to bring the troops and war dollars home.

Let's also recognize that, in a city that is awash in spin and spectacle this week, Congresswoman Pingree is keeping her focus on the real issues--and the real opportunities that have arisen for a rethink of "war on terror" policies that were made on the spur of the moment but that can (and should) now be re-examined.

Author's Bio: John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas's "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of the upcoming book The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), as well as a critically-acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press) and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: "At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift--a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history--that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country."

With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation's media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.

Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."



Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Make your congressmen and senators go on the record now.

8:02 AM  

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