Why are we still in Afghanistan?
For many years, the answer has had little to do with our national security interests and everything to do with domestic political considerations and a lack of political will from our elected representatives.
The death of Osama bin Laden deep within the borders of Pakistan during a covert operation carried out by a few dozen elite soldiers underscores how little the continued occupation of Afghanistan makes sense.
But bin Laden's death has also radically changed the political environment we're in and given President Obama significant political cover to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end.
Now, more than ever, we need to speak out to make sure he does so.
President Obama has already pledged to begin bringing troops home by July, but he has not announced the size or scope of that withdrawal.
So we do not know whether the July withdrawal will be the start of a safe, orderly and expeditious exit from the country, or if it will instead be a token gesture that will leave large numbers of troops in harm's way for years to come.
On March 16th of this year, a bipartisan coalition of 81 members of Congress led by progressive anti-war champion Rep. Barbara Lee sent a letter to President Obama asking him to announce a significant and sizeable start to the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors by no later than this July.
This was the largest number of co-signers any similar letter on the Afghanistan War had gotten.
President Obama definitely got the message.
Just a few weeks ago, President Obama told the AP that he was "confident that the withdrawal will be significant," but noted that he would not commit to precise numbers in the interview and that "all these things depend on conditions on the ground."1
While the president's statement was a step in the right direction, he put in a major caveat about "conditions on the ground" that ought to give us pause.
Just as the decision to continue the occupation has been a political one, the decision to withdraw will be fundamentally political too.
The American people overwhelmingly want us to bring the occupation of Afghanistan to an end. But we cannot afford to be a silent majority.
Now is the time to add your voice to a growing chorus that is asking President Obama to demonstrate leadership and set us on course for a speedy end to the war. And the best way for President Obama to do that is to announce that we'll begin a significant reduction of our troop levels when he begins the withdrawal in July.
Thank you for working to end the war in Afghanistan.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets
Note:1 President Obama's interview with the Associated Press, April 16, 2011.