Rangel Pushes Against Inertia Of War

Last week saw the end to the end of U.S. “combat operations” in Iraq, although tens of thousands of American soldiers remain in Iraq, and they’re cleared to engage in combat. Still, there has been a drawdown of military forces in Iraq. Now, U.S. Representative Charles Rangel is looking for the same in Afghanistan.

Rangel comments,

“Even as President Obama withdraws our soldiers and Marines from Iraq, 30,000 additional troops are being deployed to Afghanistan to join an estimated 68,000 U.S. service members already on the ground. Going on eight years, the Afghan War is now the nation’s longest military conflict, where nearly 1,270 troops have died. 2010 has proven so far to be the bloodiest year of that conflict as the main opponent, the Taliban, attempts to demonstrate its strength in the midst of the U.S. buildup.

The White House has projected the beginning of a drawdown of troops from Afghanistan in August 2011. There is no telling how long complete withdrawal will actually take in the absence of a bilateral agreement to end combat operations by a certain date. In my view, the war in Afghanistan must also be brought to an end as soon as possible under a specified withdrawal date.

In Congress, I recently voted against providing additional funding to support both wars, where taxpayers have already spent over $1 trillion. I believe all additional expenditures should be for one purpose: to safely bring every single one of our brave and exhausted troops home.

Many soldiers, rightfully, will return full of honor and pride. Many will also come home with painful vestiges of war: amputations, grave head injuries and emotional scars, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. Many have served multiple tours, some as many as six, placing unbelievable burdens on themselves and their families they left behind.

Whether you agree with these wars or not, the questions remain: How much pain and suffering is enough, and when will it end?”

Among the questions that remain have to do with how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in the first place. Those questions have been largely swept under the rug, with secrecy about the war planning prevailing even with President Obama in place.

In 2009, legislation was introduced to bring the facts out into the light. H.R. 104 would create a commission to investigate a bipartisan commission ‘on presidential war powers and civil liberties’. Congressman Rangel did not endorse the bill.

If he really wants questions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be answered, why didn’t Rangel co-sponsor H.R. 104? Is Rangel content merely seeking answers about the wars’ ends?

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