Merkley-Lee-Udall letter circulating in Senate in support of substantial drawdown

[This letter to the President in support of a substantial drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan is currently being circulated among Senators; at this writing, the letter is currently announced to close at COB Tuesday, June 14.]

June X, 2011

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our strong support for a shift in strategy and the beginning of a sizable and sustained reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, beginning in July 2011.

In 2001 the United States rightfully and successfully intervened in Afghanistan with the goals of destroying al Qaeda's safe haven, removing the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursuing those who planned the September 11 attacks on the United States. Those original goals have been largely met and today, as CIA Director Leon Panetta noted last June, "I think at most, we're looking at maybe 50 to 100, maybe less" al Qaeda members remaining in Afghanistan.

In addition, over the past few years, U.S. forces have killed or captured dozens of significant al Qaeda leaders. Then, on May 2, 2011, American Special Forces acting under your direction located and killed Osama bin Laden. The death of the founder of al Qaeda is a major blow that further weakens the terrorist organization.

From the initial authorization of military force through your most recent State of the Union speech, combating al Qaeda has always been the rationale for our military presence in Afghanistan. Given our successes, it is the right moment to initiate a sizable and sustained reduction in forces, with the goal of steadily withdrawing all regular combat troops.

There are those who argue that rather than reduce our forces, we should maintain a significant number of troops in order to support a lengthy counter-insurgency and nation building effort. This is misguided. We will never be able to secure and police every town and village in Afghanistan. Nor will we be able to build Afghanistan from the ground up into a Western-style democracy.

Endemic corruption in Afghanistan diverts resources intended to build roads, schools, and clinics, and some of these funds end up in the hands of the insurgents. Appointments of provincial and local officials on the basis of personal alliances and graft leads to deep mistrust by the Afghan population. While it is a laudable objective to attempt to build new civic institutions in Afghanistan, this goal does not justify the loss of American lives or the investment of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Instead of continuing to be embroiled in ancient local and regional conflicts in Afghanistan, we must accelerate the transfer of responsibility for Afghanistan's development to the Afghan people and their government. We should maintain our capacity to eliminate any new terrorist threats, continue to train the Afghan National Security Forces, and maintain our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. However, these objectives do not require the presence of over 100,000 American troops engaged in intensive combat operations.

Mr. President, according to our own intelligence officials, al Qaeda no longer has a large presence in Afghanistan, and, as the strike against bin Laden demonstrated, we have the capacity to confront our terrorist enemies with a dramatically smaller footprint. The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits. It is time for the United States to shift course in Afghanistan.

We urge you to follow through on the pledge you made to the American people to begin the redeployment of U.S. forces from Afghanistan this summer, and to do so in a manner that is sizable and sustained, and includes combat troops as well as logistical and support forces.

We look forward to working with you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that makes our nation stronger and more secure.


(Signatures as of 6/14/11)

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) 
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)



Mr. President, If you are indeed, the Presedident of America, you should speak and act for all Amerians, not just the wealthy, elite ruleers who rule and dictate to you what our Foreign Policy is to be. The majority of what used to be the Middle Class, and lower, are in favor of withdrawl from these crimal wars you continue to favor. We know it is not about Democracy, for America does not have Democracy in it's own country. It is about placating Isreal and continuing the huge profits that are generated and funneled to the few ruling elites, including yourself. It is time to break away from your handlers and sponors and stand with the American people. You will also do yourself some good, for you are looking at a one term failed Presidency. Your elected position, gives you power to help or hinder the World-Wide progess. So far, you have failed miserably. It is time to take a stand. STAND UP MR. PRESIDENT!!!!

Mr. President;

There is still time to earn that Nobel Peace Prize! Make this draw down substantial (>35,000 troops)!

With one less war to fight and more of our dollars available to the issues here at home, you have a chance to advance your presidency into a 2nd term.

Please do what you know in your heart (and ours) is the right thing to do.

Bring all the troops home now, including Korea and Germany. Get rid of Geithner and Bernanke, and tell Boehner and Cantor to stop acting like wreckless children. Tell Weiner to resign immediately.

As an Independent running for the Presidency in 2012 ( I fully support this letter and the sensable draw down of troops engaged in all conflicts abroad. We must put more efforts in deplomacy and less effort in proactive wars. Bush abused his excutive powers and is continuing to reap profits for his base. Stand up for Peace! Heed the Queens' appeal...the waging of Peace is far more difficult then the going to war." Lean on the signers of document for strenght to resist the evil forces that want war. Submit to Congress and don't abuse the power of the Executive. Go to war reluctantly and after a strong coalition drags you into it! RCJ

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