Now that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead, it is time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring US troops home, several Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives demanded on Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama will begin drawing down some of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. That timetable is unacceptable to a growing number of war-weary US lawmakers who argue that the death of the al-Qaeda leader is an opportunity for the US to recalibrate its strategy.
“The successful mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden has raised many questions about the effectiveness of America’s strategy to combat terrorism through a now 10-year-old nation-building effort in a deeply corrupt Afghanistan, especially in light of the serious fiscal challenges we face at home,” representatives Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, and Democrat Peter Welch wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.
They said it would be more effective to use “a targeted, worldwide counterterrorism strategy similar to the intelligence and special operations mission that located and killed bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.”
Chaffetz and Welch planned to offer an amendment to the defense bill for withdrawing ground troops from Afghanistan. A group of eight Republicans and Democrats were pushing another measure to accelerate the transition from US to Afghan control of operations.
While the amendments were unlikely to pass, the votes expected yesterday were certain to provide a measure of the congressional opposition to the war — numbers that will not go unnoticed at the Pentagon and White House.
Still fuming over Obama’s lack of extensive consultation with lawmakers before launching air strikes against Libya in March, the House adopted an amendment that says nothing in the bill could be construed as Congress authorizing the military operation in Libya.
Separately, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, three Republican lawmakers complained about Obama’s decision not to follow the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says the president can send troops into combat for only 60 days without congressional approval. That legal deadline for a full-blown authorization expired last Friday.
Obama told Congress last week that he would welcome a resolution backing the limited US involvement in the NATO-led military campaign.
By voice vote, the House adopted an amendment that would extend whistle-blower protection to members of the military who speak up about “ideologically based threats” by fellow service members that they believe could undermine US security.
Republican Representative John Carter, sponsor of the -measure, cited the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and the accused shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. A Pentagon review found Hasan’s supervisors expressed concerns about his behavior, but failed to heed their own warnings.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 shooting spree on the Texas military post.
The House also voted to stop a White House effort to require anyone seeking government contracts to disclose political contributions. Obama’s disclosure order, drafted last mont, has not yet been issued, but reports about the order have upset Republicans and some Democrats.