Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.
The Progressive Caucus just sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting to discuss “a comprehensive rethinking of our military mission, a complete redesign of our reconstruction and stabilization strategy and a courageous reconciliation strategy for Afghanistan.”
Signed by Congresswomen Lee and Woosley and Congressmen Grijalva, Honda and McGovern, the letter lists several concerns about the ongoing mission in Afghanistan, including:
- the prospect of additional troop commitments without a clear mission and without criteria with which to evaluate success;
- the failure of foreign aid to rebuild Afghan “institutions, infrastructure, and individual capacity”;
- the lack of legitimacy of the Afghan government, demonstrated and worsened by the stolen election, corruption in aid distribution and “foreign intelligence and security alliances.”
The letter comes as the president prepares to announce his decision regarding the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. This is the latest of several high-profile attempts by current and former U.S. officials to push back against calls for another troop increase in Afghanistan:
- Matthew Hoh recently resigned his post as the top civilian official in Afghanistan’s Zabul province in a letter widely circulated by Ambassador Holbrooke;
- U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, recently sent a now-public set of cables to Washington, D.C., cautioning the president against sending more troops to support the corrupt Karzai regime;
- Congressmen Obey and Murtha recently expressed their discomfort about troop increases to the press;
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi repeatedly expressed her discomfort with sending more troops to Afghanistan.
There’s political space for the president to refuse to increase troops, and growing public support for bringing them home. If the president put his considerable public charisma behind a policy of de-escalation, he could relieve his presidency of a burden that threatens to sink it.