The war in Afghanistan reaches a watershed moment this year when American service members will deploy to fight a war that began before they were born. Now, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is pressing Congress to approve a bi-partisan bill ending the nation’s longest war.
With Osama bin Laden dead and Al-Qaeda nearly eliminated, Paul says it’s time to declare victory and leave Afghanistan.
The Bowling Green Republican is co-sponsoring legislation with Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico that would bring all American service members home from Afghanistan.
The American Forces Going Home After Noble (AFGHAN) Service Act includes a one-year timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces and provides $2,500 bonuses to the nearly three million soldiers who served in War on Terrorism since Oct. 2001. What he calls a “peace dividend” would cost an estimated $7.8 billion.
In a conference call with national media on Tuesday, Sen. Paul said the nearly 18-year-old conflict has cost the U.S. $2 trillion and the lives of 2,300 service members.
“I’m very upfront with the soldiers in my state. I have two military bases," Paul stated. "They nod their head in agreement when I tell them, ‘Look, I just can’t send you or members of my family back into these wars if there’s not a military solution.'"
Sen. Paul says while there’s broad public support for ending the war in Afghanistan, there’s less willingness in Congress. Many of Paul's Senate GOP colleagues want to keep a sizable force in Afghanistan, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who has called a complete withdrawal from the country “precipitous.”
"He was the leader of the amendment that chastised the president last week for even considering leaving Afghanistan," commented Paul. "I just think we're on opposite sides of this."
McConnell has raised concerns about terrorists regrouping and posing a threat to the U.S.
Sen. Paul doesn’t expect the bill to get a vote anytime soon, but says the goal of introducing it is to build support among Republicans and Democrats.