Saturday, March 10, 2012
When most U.S. troops left Iraq, thus "officially" ending the war, Americans were relieved. The war claimed too many lives and cost billions of dollars.
In the months since the troops exited Iraq, there seems to be a feeling in this country that war is behind us.
Not so fast. About 90,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of troops will be slow, according to President Obama's plan. American troops are to remain in Afghanistan through 2014.
A growing number of U.S. senators are calling for Obama to make a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan and an end to the war. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have joined the group of two dozen senators.
Calls for hastening the exit from Afghanistan have been spurred by the killing of six Americans by men wearing Afghan uniforms amid protests about the burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Base.
"We simply cannot afford more years of elevated troop levels in Afghanistan," the senators wrote to Obama.
"We are spending roughly $10 billion in Afghanistan each month at a time when we're making tough sacrifices at home. Your recent budget calls for $88 billion more for the war in Afghanistan in 2013. If this money is appropriated, we will have spent a total of $650 billion in Afghanistan. A majority of Americans worry that the costs of the war in Afghanistan will make it more difficult for the government to address the problems facing the United States at home. They're right."
And so, too, are the senators.
Afghanistan is not necessarily stable. But whether U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan for six months or two years, the situation is not likely to change much. The Afghans, like the Iraqis, need to take control of their country.
Obama made the tough - and we believe correct - call to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. He needs to muster the resolve to do the same for Afghanistan.
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