Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wrote in The Washington Post on March 4 that the majority of American people support his plan to keep spending taxes on the Karzai regime and army in Kabul. He refuses to set a deadline for American troop withdrawals. The total projected direct and indirect costs for Afghanistan are $1 trillion, funds that could be used to address job creation and budget crises at home.
Many Americans may support the notion of building up the army of a client state like Afghanistan, as we did long ago in South Vietnam. But Sen. Levin’s op-ed piece, co-authored with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI.) fails to acknowledge that a recent Gallup Poll shows that 72 percent of all Americans favor a more rapid pullout of American troops than anything currently proposed by the White House and Pentagon. That number includes 86 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Independents and, for the first time, a majority of Republicans – 61 percent.
Sen. Levin should heed the overwhelming demand of Americans to leave this decade-long war and invest our tax dollars in infrastructure and services like policing and education at home. Diplomacy is the urgent need in Afghanistan, not funding an Afghan army of 378,000 by the end of 2012. That army is likely to fall just as happened in South Vietnam unless there is a negotiated peace settlement that includes power-sharing and international guarantees. But Sen. Levin refused to vote for Senate legislation last year calling for an exit strategy from the Obama administration with an explicit deadline for withdrawal.