US lawmakers seek sizeable troop cut
"Instead of continuing to be embroiled in ancient local and regional conflicts in Afghanistan, we must accelerate the transfer of responsibility for Afghanistan's development to the Afghan people and their government," they said.
In a letter sent to Obama on Wednesday, the senators said: "We should maintain our capacity to eliminate any new terrorist threats, continue to train the Afghan National Security Forces and maintain our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts."
However, they added, those objectives did not require the presence of over 100,000 American troops engaged in intensive combat operations in the war-torn country.
The senators said endemic corruption in Afghanistan diverted resources intended to build roads, schools and clinics, and some of the funds ended up in the hands of the insurgents.
"Appointments of provincial and local officials on the basis of personal alliances and graft lead to deep mistrust by the Afghan population. While it is a laudable objective to attempt to build new civic institutions in Afghanistan, this goal does not justify the loss of American lives or the investment of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars," they wrote.
Quoting US intelligence officials, the public representatives said Al Qaeda no longer had a large presence in Afghanistan, and as the strike against Osama bin Laden demonstrated, America had the capacity to confront terrorists.
"The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits. It is time for the US to shift course in Afghanistan. We urge you to follow through on the pledge you made to the American people to begin the redeployment of US forces from Afghanistan this summer, and to do so in a manner that is sizable and sustained…" they wrote.
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