Liberal Members Seek Bipartisan Panel to Review Afghan Policy

Posted August 17, 2010 at 5:45pm

House liberals are pressing President Barack Obama to launch a bipartisan panel to review U.S. policy toward Afghanistan — and come up with a strategy for ending the war.

“As America heads inexorably towards its tenth year of war in Afghanistan, it is clear that the end of this, America’s longest war, is nowhere in sight,” reads a letter sent to Obama on Friday by leading liberals, including Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairmen Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) and Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (Calif.). Other signatories include Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Mike Honda (Calif.), George Miller (Calif.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Jim Moran (Va.) and Sam Farr (Calif.).

“We write to echo calls from national security, military and development experts … for the establishment of a bipartisan Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. policy in these countries,” the letter states.

Much like the Iraq Study Group launched in 2006, the purpose of the Afghanistan panel would be to assess benefits, costs and affordability of engagement in the region. The lawmakers say a “critical component” of the review should be to develop an alternative strategy “for concluding the U.S. war in Afghanistan.”

Liberals’ renewed push for a change of direction in Afghanistan comes as Defense Secretary Robert Gates is mulling the possibility of retiring in 2011.

In an interview published Monday, Gates told Foreign Policy magazine that it would make sense for him to leave in 2011 because it would give him time to oversee the major offensive under way in Afghanistan but step down before the 2012 presidential elections.