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Mar 10th, 2010

U.S. House Rejects Bill to Withdraw from Afghanistan

Image: Protesters in Afghanistan
Afghanis protest against U.S. forces after an early morning raid in Khost province, east of Kabul on Saturday, March 7, 2009. (Photo credit: Nishanuddin Khan / AP file)

By Jim Abrams

March 10, 2010

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives soundly rejected an effort by anti-war lawmakers Wednesday to force withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

The outcome of the vote, 356-65 against the resolution, never was in doubt. Nevertheless, the 3 1/2-hour debate gave those who oppose President Barack Obama’s war policies a platform to vent their frustrations.

Opposing the resolution was easy for almost all Republicans, who have been solidly behind Obama’s decision to increase U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan from 70,000 to 100,000. Only five Republicans supported the measure.

It was a harder vote for some Democrats, particularly in an election year where opposing the war can be equated with opposing the troops. Several expressed discomfort with a war that has lasted 8 1/2 years and cost the nation more than 930 American lives and the treasury more than $200 billion but said they were voting against the resolution because it was ill-timed and unrealistic.

Among the “no” voters was Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who gave an impassioned speech. The U.S. policy of needlessly sending troops into harm’s way was “shameful,” Kennedy said. He also lambasted the national media, calling their lack of attention to the loss of life in Afghanistan “despicable.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, also a Democrat and a former presidential candidate, wrote the resolution that would have directed the president to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan within 30 days of its adoption. If the president deemed that deadline unsafe, he would have had until the end of the year to end U.S. military presence in the nation.

Obama has said he wants to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan starting in July 2011.

Kucinich based his resolution on the 1973 War Powers Act, passed during the Vietnam War era to require the president to obtain congressional approval when he sends troops to a conflict for more than 90 days.

Congress authorized the use of military force to fight terrorists in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, but Kucinich said both the Bush and Obama administrations had wrongfully used that authority as carte blanche to circumvent the role of Congress in sending Americans to war. …

Republicans warned that a precipitous withdrawal would be a serious mistake, allowing the Taliban to regain power and assuring that al-Qaida and other terror groups would again have a staging ground to launch attacks against the United States and the West.

“In the case of Afghanistan, President Obama has demonstrated great responsibility and a sense of the national security interests of the United States,” said Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. “He deserves our support.” …


Related link: H. Con. Res. 248


Related reports on this site

Grim Milestone in Afghanistan (Feb. 24, 2010)

Marines carry wounded troops to a waiting helicopter after their armored vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Marja, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Brennan Linsley / Associated Press — The Washington Post)

Public Opinion on Afghan Surge (Dec. 17, 2009)

Image: United States Marines in Afghanistan
A December 2009 poll showed Americans remained against sending more troops to Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Kevin Frayer / AP file)

Chuck Hagel on National Defense (Sept. 3, 2009)

Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Governance at Georgetown University; and Aubrey Immelman, Associate Professor of Psychology, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minn., Sept. 23, 2009.
Chuck Hagel and Aubrey Immelman

Obama War Strategy Setback (Aug. 29, 2009)

Deadliest month ever for U.S. GIs in Afghanistan (NBC Nightly News, Aug. 28, 2009) — At least 45 American troops have been killed so far this month in Afghanistan, a record in the eight-year war. NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports on what is causing the uptick in casualties. (video; 01:47)

Afghanistan — Obama’s Vietnam? (Feb. 3, 2009)

Image: Bridge destroyed in Pakistan
Islamist militants blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009, cutting a major supply line for Western troops in Afghanistan in the latest in a series of attacks on the Khyber Pass by insurgents seeking to hamper the U.S.-led mission against the Taliban. (Photo credit: Mohammad Sajjad / AP)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 10, 2009


Buffett: We fell off a cliff (CNBC, March 9, 2009) — Legendary investor Warren Buffett said Monday that the economy has ‘fallen off the cliff.’ CNBC’s Becky Quick reports. (02:08)

Economy Has ‘Fallen Off a Cliff’

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the economy had “fallen off a cliff” and predicted the U.S. likely would face higher unemployment and eventually inflation because of the economic crisis.

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