Saying our main missions in Afghanistan have been accomplished, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is calling on President Obama to bring the troops home sooner than planned. Harkin, a Democrat, is among more than two-dozen senators who’ve signed a letter to the president, urging him to shift policy and order a full-scale withdrawal as soon as next month.
Harkin says, “We wanted to say that to begin a sizeable, we didn’t actually put numbers on it, but a sizeable and sustained drawdown of troops towards removing all combat troops from Afghanistan.” Harkin’s name is listed first on the letter to Obama, along with 23 other Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent.
Harkin says the current plan for dismantling the U.S. military machine in Afghanistan is too slow and is costing millions of dollars a day. “They’re going to take a few troops out this summer, then we’ll go along at a level for a while and then maybe we’ll take out some more later on and then we’ll level off,” Harkin says. “What we’re trying to say in the letter is a sizeable withdrawal this summer and a continued withdrawal every month there after until we have no combat troops left in Afghanistan.”
The current plan has the U.S. pulling out the last troops by 2014. There are now some 100,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan, including 2,800 members of the Iowa National Guard. Harkin says the troops all need to come home, as quickly as is reasonably possible.
Harkin says, “The withdrawal should be consistent with determination by our military leaders that we can do so without exposing our troops to any military action or harm.” The letter says U.S. objectives in Afghanistan “have been largely met, including the removal of the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the disruption of terrorist networks allied with al Qaeda and those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States.”
Harkin says, “The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits.”