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article imageBipartisan criticism greets Obama move to extend Afghan presence

By Michael Krebs     Nov 25, 2013 in World
With members of Afghanistan's grand assembly pushing for a timely signature of the bilateral security agreement with the U.S. - effectively extending the war more than 10 years out - American senators are pushing for bipartisan approval.
Last week, the Obama administration struck a deal with Afghanistan to extend the U.S. troop presence under the bilateral security agreement through 2024. However, the measure is attracting criticism among Republicans and Democrats alike.
"Barry, what happened? I thought we were getting out of Afghanistan," HBO's Bill Maher said, as Real Clear Politics reported. "Well, the news this week is that we've struck a security deal to keep troops there till 2024. I know. But Obama said he made a promise to the Afghans. He said, 'If you like the war you have, you can keep it. Period.' But, really, 11 more years in Afghanistan? It's easier to get away from Tom Cruise."
The arrangement to extend American troop commitments in the longest-running war in U.S. history did not sit well with a number of senators from both political parties. On Wednesday, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) urging Congressional approval as a condition for any American troop presence in Afghanistan past 2014.
"It is long past time to end the longest war in American history and bring our sons and daughters home," Senator Merkley said, according to a press release issued by Senator Paul's office. "The American people deserve to weigh in and Congress should vote before we decide to commit massive resources and thousands of troops to another decade in Afghanistan. These are resources that could be used here at home creating jobs, improving education, and cutting the deficit."
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has proposed to delay the bilateral security agreement until after the Afghan presidential election currently scheduled for this coming April. However, American officials want a deal in place by the end of 2013, and the Afghan grand assembly is criticizing Karzai for pushing a delay, as Voice of America reported.
"After spending over a decade at war in Afghanistan, it is time to transition our troops home," Senator Paul said. "This bipartisan amendment reinforces the fact that the president needs to consult the American people and their representatives in Congress before increasing our troop involvement in Afghanistan."
More about Afghanistan war, Obama, Bill maher, Rand paul, jeff merkley
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