WASHINGTON — “In the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan,” begins a letter to President Barack Obama, sent today from a group of progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Keith Ellison.
The proposed troop withdrawal would begin in July of this year, consistent with the deadline Obama himself had laid out months ago to begin a troop drawdown in the country.
The U.S. has about 100,000 troops serving in Afghanistan, as of late April, of a total coalition force of about 132,000. As of last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said no decision has yet been reached on the number that will leave the country in July.
Ellison and his colleagues said the nation was unified by the death of bin Laden, following a daring operation they commended Obama for authorizing.
“It is our hope that you can similarly unify the nation by bringing our troops home and ending America’s longest war in history — a position supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people,” they wrote.
“The death of Osama Bin Laden certainly does not represent an end to Al-Qaeda. As we seek a future free of the threat of global terrorism, we must work to implement smart security policies that are both effective and sustainable. Ending the war in Afghanistan is a critical step toward refocusing U.S. resources and security assets to serve that vital purpose.”
The letter was signed by six members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Ellison is a co-chairman of that group. A copy of the letter is available here.