Pentagon to White House, American People on Afghanistan: Take a Hike
By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe
The Pentagon is working the press again, this time in support of a so-called withdrawal plan that would break a promise made to the American people by their president. According to The Wall Street Journal:
"U.S. military officers in Afghanistan have drawn up preliminary proposals to withdraw as many as 5,000 troops from the country in July and as many as 5,000 more by the year's end..."
This joke of a "withdrawal" plan isn't anything remotely approaching a real drawdown. It's less than a 10 percent reduction in U.S. forces in Afghanistan over 6 months. It puts the Pentagon squarely at odds both with the stated desires of the White House and the very clearly articulated will of the American people. If you agree, sign Rethink Afghanistan's petition to get the troops out of Afghanistan.
First, let's remember what the White House said on this:
"After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home....[O]ur troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended -- because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own."-- President Barack Obama, Dec. 1, 2009.
"I'm confident that the withdrawal will be significant. People will say this is a real process of transition; this is not just a token gesture."-- President Barack Obama, April 15, 2011.
"In July of 2011, you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it."-- Vice President Joe Biden, qtd. in Jonathan Alter's The Promise.
The American people are and have been crystal-clear about their expectations for a drawdown for months now.
- Rasmussen Reports' latest polling (published on May 9, 2011) shows that 56 percent of likely voters want troops brought home within a year, and more than half of those want all troops withdrawn immediately. The number of likely voters who want troops home within a year has increased by four percentage points since the beginning of March.
- A Pew Research poll taken May 5-8 shows that 49 percent of Americans want troops removed from Afghanistan "ASAP."
- An NBC News poll taken May 5-7 shows that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of leaving some troops in Afghanistan until 2014.
These are not ambiguous numbers. Heading into a presidential election season, likely voters and Americans in general are telling pollsters and their elected representatives that they expect a real troop withdrawal, with most of them wanting troops out within a year. The Pentagon's draft plan isn't remotely in the ballpark of what the American people want.
Bringing home 5,000 people in July and maybe another 5,000 people by the end of the year is an insignificant, token withdrawal from a force of well over 100,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan. It's less than a 10 percent adjustment of the American personnel on the ground. The Pentagon is telling the White House and the American people to take a hike.
Osama Bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda has been driven from Afghanistan. The last plausible excuse for keeping troops in Afghanistan is gone. Yet, the military continues to fight a counterinsurgency campaign with tens of thousands of U.S. troops, a campaign that's failed to blunt the ever-growing level of insurgent attacks across Afghanistan. Civilian casualties are at an all-time high. Troop injuries and acute stress are at an all-time high in the war. Costs are at an all-time high. There's no rational reason left to continue this farce.
The Pentagon's token troop adjustment would break a promise made to the American people by their president, and it would blatantly flout the will of the voters. The "plan" is laughable and should be rejected by the White House. President Obama and Congress must demand a real plan to get the troops home as swiftly and safely as possible.