Capitol Words a project of the Sunlight Foundation

  • and

Accelerate The Timetable: Bring The Troops Home Before 2014

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, since the House last convened in late September, about 30 more Americans have given their lives in the war in Afghanistan. The total number of fatalities has now passed 2,000. And as of October 7, we've been at war in Afghanistan for a staggering 11 years. There are more than 2,000 families that will have an empty chair this Thanksgiving, more than 2,000 families with a void that can't possibly be filled--husbands and wives who will have to go on without their life partner, children missing a parent, parents who are suffering the terrible grief of losing a child.

The human cost has become too steep for our Nation to bear. We can't ask our troops and their families to endure any more sacrifice for a military occupation--now more than a decade old--which has not accomplished its goals and is undermining our national security as well.

And of course, the fiscal burden is one that rests on the shoulders of every single taxpaying American. The Afghanistan pricetag would be high even for a successful, well-executed policy that was actually making America stronger. But to waste the people's money to the tune of $10 billion a month on this failure is a national scandal.

To every one of my colleagues who has spoken on this floor about excessive government spending, it's time to look at the cost of foreign wars before we start cutting domestic programs that our very own people need to survive.

It's not just progressives like me who believe we need a change in policy, Mr. Speaker. There is a clear consensus among the American people. They agree that this military occupation is bad for America, bad for Afghanistan, and bad for the cause of peace and stability around the world. I think it was pretty telling that, during the recent campaign, even the Republican candidate for President ended up supporting a withdrawal of troops by 2014. But in my opinion, that's not nearly soon enough.

Now that the Presidential campaign is over, we must accelerate that timetable and end this war as soon as is safely possible because every remaining day that we have troops on the ground is another day that gives strength to the very extremists that we're trying to defeat.

The time has come to invest in Afghanistan the right way, with humanitarian aid and civilian support rather than military force. It's time for a SMART Security approach that puts development and diplomacy first--not just in Afghanistan but throughout the developing world and in other nations where terrorism poses a threat. It's not only the right thing to do, Mr. Speaker; it's the most cost-effective way as well. It's pennies on the dollar to invest in humanitarian support for nations rather than military involvement.

On Sunday, many of us took part in Veterans Day parades back in our home districts. In doing so, we heard expressed that our Nation is so grateful for the service of these men and women, those who left their families and their communities to serve their country. I bow to no one in my respect for our veterans and those currently deployed overseas. But I believe the best way for us to support them right now and the best way to honor American values is to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.