Democratic lawmakers sign pledge to end 'forever wars'

news

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A coalition of Democratic lawmakers is backing a veteran activist organization's efforts to end the "forever wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other global hot spots, and finally bring U.S. troops home.

Common Defense, a grassroots group comprised of veterans and military families that stood up after the 2016 election, has secured sponsorship from lawmakers and presidential hopefuls such as Sen. Bernie Sanders.


"American troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years, the longest war in American history," said Sanders, an independent lawmaker from Vermont.

"Our troops have been in Iraq since 2003, and in Syria since 2015, and many other places," he told Military.com in a statement. "The American people do not want endless war. It is long past time for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over the use of force, to responsibly end these interventions and bring our troops home. It is time to end the Forever War."

Sanders joins several other lawmakers sponsoring the effort to end America's involvement in the global war on terror, including Sen.Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Reps. Ilhan Omar D-Minn., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ro Khanna D-Calif.

The initiative mirrors President Donald Trump's vision to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and instead focus on counterterrorism and peace negotiations with a smaller footprint in the region.

In his State of the Union address last month, Trump highlighted the need to pull out of Afghanistan. "Great nations do not fight endless wars," he said.

assets.rbl.ms

After Trump announced a complete withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria in December, Pentagon officials confirmed last month that a small presence of roughly 400 troops would stay in the country to assist with security and prevent an Islamic State resurgence.

Alexander McCoy, political director for Common Defense, told Military.com on Monday he agrees with the president's thinking, but not at the expense of perpetuating other conflicts around the world.

"Trump has realized something too many elected representatives have not, that the American people are overwhelmingly tired of these wars, their spiraling human and monetary cost, and the utter lack of a strategy or purpose behind them," he said.

But "Trump has pretended to wind down the wars while simultaneously escalating conflicts around the globe and threatening to suck us into new ones with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. We need a speedy, but responsible end to the Forever War," said McCoy, a former sergeant who served in the Marine Corpsfor six years and deployed as an embassy guard to Saudi Arabia, Honduras and Germany.

McCoy said U.S. leaders should not be orchestrating plans "for how to keep the conflicts going" in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Somalia and Thailand.

"They should instead spend their time developing plans for a controlled transition. That does not mean indefinite special forces operations, or privatizing the wars using military contractors," he said.

Via Twitter on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez said she agrees with more limited engagement, and that invading countries such as Afghanistan was a mistake.

"All of Congress was wrong, including both GOP & Dem Party, and led my generation into a disastrous [and] wrong war that virtually all would come to regret," she said in response to questions from CNN's Jake Tapper.

"I think that our decision to enter unlimited engagement in Afghanistan, particularly through the [Authorization for the Use of Military Force] + Congress' abdication of power + decision-making w/ passage of the AUMF, was a mistake. Other options: targeting the network itself, limited engagement, non-intervention," Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The AUMF, passed in 2001, gives the president authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons," according to the law.

Lawmakers have attempted repeatedly to modernize and replace the 2001 war authorization.

After sponsoring Common Defense's pledge, Warren said in a press release that it's time Congress resumes negotiations to approve the proper authorities before America gets involved in other conflicts going forward.

"We can keep America safe and secure without letting an imperial presidency stretch the Constitution beyond recognition to justify endless wars while Congress takes a backseat," she wrote. "It's time to seriously review the country's military commitments overseas, and that includes bringing U.S. troops home."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

This article originally appeared on Military.com

More articles from Military.com:

SEE ALSO: Sen. Rand Paul wants to end the war in Afghanistan with a 'victory bonus' for all GWOT vets

U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Sunday accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of "aggressively" shadowing a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II plane over international airspace, in yet another sign of the increasing hostility between the two nations.

The encounter between the U.S. and Venezuelan planes occurred on Friday, the same day that the Trump administration announced it was sanctioning four top officials in Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency.

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

Joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises scheduled for next month are going ahead, a top Seoul official said Saturday, despite a threat by North Korea to boycott working-level talks with Washington and possibly restart nuclear and longer-range missile tests.

Read More Show Less

Video footage aired on Iranian state television on Saturday shows masked commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Read More Show Less

(Reuters) - A former National Security Agency contractor was sentenced in Maryland to nine years in prison on Friday for stealing huge amounts of classified material from U.S. intelligence agencies over two decades though officials never found proof he shared it with anyone.

Read More Show Less
nsa

ASPEN -- The Pentagon is recruiting a new cadre of computer geeks to address a threat that the military's top intelligence officer says keeps him up at night.

Read More Show Less