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USA Today - Opposing View: Bring the Troops Home


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By Representative Barbara Lee

The world has breathed a sigh of relief now that the most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is no longer a threat. While nothing will ever completely ease the pain of families of 9/ll victims and others around the world, I am hopeful that they feel some comfort now that bin Laden is gone.

And as decisively as President Obama acted in executing the special operations action against bin Laden, we need that same leadership to bring our brave troops home from Afghanistan and end America's longest war.

In a world where terrorism can emanate from the tribal regions of Yemen or a hotel room in Germany, we cannot adequately address these challenges through a military-first, "boots on the ground" strategy.

Military and foreign policy experts agree that there is no military solution in Afghanistan and that any lasting solution must involve a negotiated peace settlement. U.S. officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta, have confirmed that al-Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan is severely diminished. It is clear that occupying states and nation-building do not make for effective counterterrorism.

According to a February Gallup poll, 72% of Americans favor swifter action to bring our brave troops home. Also in February, the Democratic National Committee adopted my resolution supporting a significant and sizable reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

This March, a bipartisan group of 80 House colleagues joined me in calling on the president to commit to a significant and sizeable force reduction beginning in July. And just last month, the president echoed this sentiment, saying that the scheduled July reduction in troops will be "significant."

t a time when we should be focused on our economic recovery here at home, we cannot afford to keep spending over $100 billion a month fighting an endless war in Afghanistan. I commend the president's message for national unity and global solidarity in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's demise -- and now urge the president to harness this opportunity and call for swift withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, beginning with an announcement of a significant and sizable reduction this July.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is the lead sponsor of legislation calling for the safe, orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors in Afghanistan.

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