- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A group of liberal House Democrats on Wednesday blasted President Obama’s decision to halt the U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan, demanding a “political solution” rather than prolonging American’s longest war.

“Lasting troop presence in Afghanistan causes resentment of the United States in the region and drains resources that could be better spent meeting critical needs at home,” leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement. “It is time to bring our troops home and forge the political solutions needed for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

“A political solution is the only way forward in Afghanistan,” they said. “We fully support U.S. efforts to facilitate inclusive and democratic institutions in Afghanistan that are free from corruption and meet the needs and goals of its people. But after nearly fourteen years, the deaths of 2,201 service members, and a total price tag of five trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we do not support extending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama announced Tuesday that he would keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2016, rather than cut the deployment in half as he previously planned.

The blowback from some of Mr. Obama’s staunchest supporters in the House — including caucus co-chairmen Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota — coincided with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressing a joint session of Congress.

Mr. Ghani thanked Americans for their “tremendous sacrifices” and “generous support” in helping Afghanistan battle Islamic terrorism.

Still, the progressives said that it was time for Mr. Ghani to go it alone.

Afghanistan needs the strong leadership of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah — not a prolonged U.S. military presence,” said the lawmakers.

“President Obama should reconsider his commitment to allow U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan through 2016. Before an agreement keeping 9,800 Americans away from their families goes into effect, the Progressive Caucus believes the American people, through their representatives in Congress, should have a say in a continued troop presence in Afghanistan,” they said.

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