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Bipartisan Letter to Obama RE: July withdrawal date from Afghanistan

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Please use the organizational letter below with your congressional contacts to urge them to sign the congressional letter (copy and current signers at bottom of piece). The deadline is Noon, next Wednesday, March 16, 2011. You may also want to thank those who have already signed.

Dear Congressional Staffer:

The undersigned 30 organizations and coalitions representing 23.7 million supporters request that Representative XXXXX join 54 Members of Congress by co-signing the below bipartisan letter to President Obama supporting his plan to start bringing troops home from Afghanistan this July.

Pasted below is the text of the letter and current co-signers.  To become a co-signer of this letter, please contact Scott Exner with Congresswoman Barbara Lee at 5-2661 by Noon, next Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

Please let Paul Kawika Martin of Peace Action (pmartin@peace-action.org, 951-217-7285) know how Representative XXXXX plans to act on this request.

Sincerely,

Paul Kawika Martin
Policy & Political Director
Peace Action

Matthew Hoh
Director
Afghanistan Study Group

Robert Greenwald
Director
Brave New Foundation / Rethink Afghanistan

William C. Goodfellow
Executive Director
Center for International Policy

Medea Benjamin
Cofounder
CODEPINK: Women for Peace

John Isaacs
Executive Director
Council for a Livable World

Michael Kieschnick
Chief Executive Officer
CREDO

Carolyn Scarr
Program Coordinator
Ecumenical Peace Institute

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Fellowship of Reconciliation

Jonathan W. Evans
Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation

James E. Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Carleen Pickard
Associate Director
Global Exchange

Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy

Marie Dennis
Director
Maryknoll Office for Globle Conerns

Justin Ruben
Executive Director
MoveOn.org Political Action

Terry O'Neill
President
National Organization for Women

Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Steve Clemons
Senior Fellow & Founder, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation*

David Krieger
President
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Dave Robinson
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Tom Hayden
Peace and Justice Resource Center

Peter Wilk, M.D.
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)

Tim Carpenter
Director
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)

Jean Stokan
Director, Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Dr. Lisa Schirch
Director
3D Security Initiative

Rusti Eisenberg & Gael Murphy
Legislative Coordinators
United for Peace and Justice

Michael Eisenscher
National Coordinator
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

Susan Shaer
Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions

Nancy Munger
Co-President
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section

Tom Andrews
National Director
Win Without War (a coalition of 40 national organizations)

*For identification purposes only

TEXT OF CONGRESSIONAL LETTER:

Support the President’s July Deadline for Drawdown in Afghanistan

March ____, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you to express our utmost support for your planned drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beginning no later than July of this year. We, the undersigned members of Congress, believe the forthcoming reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan must be significant and sizeable, and executed in an orderly fashion.

Our nation’s economic and national security interests are not served by a policy of open-ended war in Afghanistan. At a time of severe economic distress, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States more than $100 billion per year, excluding the long-term costs of care for returning military servicemembers. At the same time, military and intelligence officials agree that Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is diminished and that there will not be a military solution to resolve the current situation. It is simply unsustainable for our nation to maintain a costly, military-first strategy in Afghanistan.

A significant redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 will send a clear signal that the United States does not seek a permanent presence in Afghanistan. This transition will provide incentive for internal stakeholders to improve upon the political status quo, reduce corruption, and take meaningful steps toward the establishment of an effective, trustworthy, and inclusive governance structure. A meaningful start to withdrawal will also empower U.S. diplomatic engagement with regional and global stakeholders who share a common interest in the long-term stability of Afghanistan.

The majority of the American people overwhelmingly support a rapid shift toward withdrawal in Afghanistan. In fact, a Gallup Poll released on February 2, 2011 indicated that 72% of Americans favor action this year to "speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.” Let us be clear. The redeployment of a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July will not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people.

Mr. President, as you work to finally bring an end to the war in Iraq by the end of this year, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that our nation’s military engagement in Afghanistan does not become the status quo. It is time to focus on securing a future of economic opportunity and prosperity for the American people and move swiftly to end to America’s longest war in Afghanistan.

Mr. President, we look forward to working with you to make that goal a reality.

Sincerely,

Representatives:
Baldwin
Bass
Capuano
Clarke (NY)
Cohen
Conyers
Costello
Davis (IL)
Duncan (TN)
Ellison
Farr
Filner
Frank
Fudge
Garamendi
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Hastings
Hinchey
Holt
Honda
Jackson Jr.
Jackson Lee
Johnson (IL)
Jones
Lee
Lewis
Lofgren
Lujan
Maloney
Markey
Matsui
McDermott
McGovern
Michaud
Miller (CA)
Moore
Moran
Murphy (CT)
Olver
Paul
Payne
Pingree
Polis
Rush
Schakowsky
Serrano
Slaughter
Speier
Stark
Towns
Waters
Welch
Woolsey