President Obama is expected to make a decision regarding his Afghanistan strategy after Thanksgiving. Before doing so, he would be wise to consider an alternative which has, until now, been excluded from the systematic review of the gravest decision a president must make. That alternative is laid out clearly in a just-released letter to President Obama from the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Afghanistan Taskforce.
Through careful consultation with a wide array of experts, including those who testified at a series of forums on Afghanistan earlier this year, the Taskforce has developed a smart, alternative approach that would be more effective in providing for both US and Afghanistan security, and far less costly in treasure and lives.
In the letter, Taskforce Chair Michael Honda, along with CPC co-chairs, Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Lynn Woolsey, and CPC members, Representatives Barbara Lee and James McGovern, outline their strategy and request a meeting.
The legislators write that their "perspectives have manifested…via Congressional Progressive Caucus Member-led legislation" including: a timeline for eventual troop withdrawal, prohibiting funds for additional troop surges, reorienting the mission so that 80 percent of US resources are devoted to economic and political development and 20 percent towards security, and prioritizing diplomacy and development over the use of force.
"We now have an opportunity to realign our defense development and diplomatic engagement to ensure political, economic, and social security for a nation deeply impoverished," the letter closes. "This new tack, if taken today, can transform the conflict while remaining consistent with America’s strategic interests."