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article imageOp-Ed: Bipartisan group of U.S. Senators want vote on Afghan deal

By Ken Hanly     Feb 8, 2014 in Politics
Kabul - A group of U.S. Senators both Republican and Democratic are demanding that the U.S. Congress have a vote on the Bilateral Security Agreement(BSA) negotiated with the Afghan government, that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
The Obama administration negotiated the BSA last year and it was subsequently passed by a meeting of Afghan elders (loya jirga) and the Afghan parliament. However, Afghan president Karzai has made further demands on the U.S. and so far has refused to sign. The issue is discussed on the appended video.
As early as November last year a few Senators had asked that Congress vote on the bill, noting that if the Afghan parliament and loya jirga could vote on the issue the U.S. Congress should have a say also. The demand is now gaining some momentum it would seem with a resolution that has bipartisan support.
Senator Jeff Merkley a Democrat from Oregon said; “We are introducing a bipartisan resolution to say before any American soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is committed to stay in Afghanistan after 2014, Congress should vote", Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul also signed on to the resolution.
The resolution does not take any position as to whether the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan or not but as Lee notes that: “..after more than a decade of war, Congress, and more importantly the American people, need to have a voice in this debate, The decision to sacrifice American blood and treasure in this conflict should not be made by the White House and the Pentagon alone.”
Similar measures were introduced last year as amendments but neither managed to pass through Congress.
The resolution notes that the Afghan war had cost more than 2,300 American lives and and $600 billion dollars and suggests that it is time for the Afghans to take responsibility for themselves. Senator Joe Manchin a co-sponsor of the bill said, “This resolution basically says it all: rebuild America, not Afghanistan,” who added that Karzai was no Washington ally. These statements suggest that the resolution actually leans towards removing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The military wants to keep up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Obama has threatened to pull out all troops unless Karzai signs the BSA. Originally the deadline was the end of last year. The Obama move is probably a bluff. The loya jirga and Afghan parliament have already agreed to the BSA so probably Obama can get the new president to be elected in April to sign on.
A CNN/ORC survey, released last December, showed America’s longest war is very unpopular. Support for the Afghan war was just 17 percent. A majority of Americans want U.S. troops out of Afghanistan even before the December 2014 withdrawal deadline.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about US Afghan bilateral security deal, US Senate, Afghan US relations
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