Christmas Eve is a time to gather with friends and family to reflect on the good things in life. It's a time to share our joys and our hopes for peace on earth and good will towards all.
This year Christmas Eve has a sad and ironic twist to it however.
As we begin our deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, this Christmas Eve will also mark the 3,000th day of the war in Afghanistan and the 30th anniversary of the initial Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Thus far, this war has already cost the American taxpayer a minimum of $300,000,000,000 according to the Congressional Research Service (and that's just the funding that's "on budget").
Sadly, the fact that we're spending about $101 million per day in this war is the good news. The financial cost of this war is nothing compared to the fact that 937 American troops have been killed, and 4,434 have been wounded (and that's not counting the thousands more that will carry the memories of this war for their entire lives).
Exactly 50 days ago from Christmas Eve, because of all of these reasons, I took to the floor of the House and formalized my call for an end to this war of occupation and attrition.
As a 24-year retired military officer and former special assistant to the then Supreme Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark, I am deeply troubled by the fact that we have yet to even define victory. Having recently witnessed an election where Hamid Karzai "won" despite having about 1/3 of his ballots thrown out for election fraud, I also know that we cannot continue engaging in nation building by partnering with one of the most corrupt narco-governments in the world. Additionally, being on the House Armed Services Committee and having listened to the testimony of General Stanley McChrystal, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, there is nothing that convinces me that we can force Democracy on a tribal people through continued military occupation or escalation.
History has shown us what happens when military forces try to occupy Afghanistan, and we can learn a lot from the Russian invasion which began on December 24th, 1979.
Our friends at the Brave New Foundation have been working on an ongoing project called ReThink Afghanistan and today, they released a great piece on the lessons we can learn from the Russian invasion. I HIGHLY recommend watching this video and sharing it with your friends and family:
So what can we do?
Last week, I signed onto a letter with several members of Congress to demand a Congressional debate followed by an up or down vote in the House on the escalation. It has been eight years since Congress has had any sort of meaningful debate on this critical issue and the public deserves to know where their member of Congress stands.
This is where you can help
If you agree that the American people deserve an up or down vote on the escalation in Afghanistan, then I urge you to call your member of Congress and Senators to tell them to support an Up or Down vote on this issue.
Nothing gets the attention of a member of Congress quite like returning from the holidays to discover 500 voicemails demanding action.
You can find your Congressman or Congresswoman by visiting house.gov.
You can find your Senators by visiting senate.gov.
Let's declare that enough is enough on this 3,000th day of the war in Afghanistan. It's time to bring our troops home.
P.S. Don't forget to recommend this post and send an email to your friends and family to recruit their help.