Although it received little media attention, the Senate last week passed by voice vote an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill calling on President Obama to develop an accelerated plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Although non-binding, the amendment’s passage shows the changing mood in the Senate. In a time of budget-cutting, the decade-long war that grinds on, taking lives and dollars, is losing support. It is significant that there was no organized opposition to the amendment, only Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke against it.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), one of the co-sponsors, said about the amendment passing, “It is time to bring our men and women home. The U.S. Senate sent that message to the president today in unequivocal terms.”
Recent polls show that the American people agree in supporting a more rapid withdrawal of troops. A Rasmussen Poll of likely voters found that 59 percent want the troops to come home either immediately or within a year. CNN found that 63 percent oppose the war.
President Obama’s announced plan has U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The American people, and now the U.S. Senate want them home sooner. As we watch the last U.S. troops leaving Iraq, there are still nearly 100,000 remaining in Afghanistan. Nearly 2,000 have died, and the cost is now nearly $500 billion.
After a decade, it’s time to bring also them home.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners.