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Congressional Insiders Poll: A Faster Pullout from Afghanistan? Congressional Insiders Poll: A Faster Pullout from Afghanistan?

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Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll: A Faster Pullout from Afghanistan?

Plus: What's on your constituents' minds?

In light of the successful military action that killed Osama bin Laden, should the U.S. accelerate the timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan?

Democrats (31 votes)

Yes: 74%
No: 23%
Not necessarily (volunteered): 3%

 

Yes
“If there was ever a time to leave, it is now. Getting bin Laden was the reason we went in.”

“The attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden are what took us to Afghanistan in the first place. Now, given his death, we have an opportunity to draw down our presence and ultimately transform the way in which we are waging this war. Bin Laden’s death reminds us that when tackling threats to U.S. security by actors who are increasingly agile, mobile, and amorphous, a heavy military, air, and naval footprint is not only ineffective in dealing with guerrilla-like warfare but also financially unsustainable.”

“The Pakistani mission demonstrated that actionable intelligence, not a standing army, proved successful in leveling America’s enemies. Our military is worn out. Does anybody in Washington care?”

 

“The biggest budget leak is federal spending in [the Defense Department]. We need to cut, cut, cut DOD.”

“There is no reason to be there. This is as good a time as any to declare victory and leave.”

“But we should be getting out of Afghanistan anyway.”

“The fact he was in Pakistan proves again that our reason for being in Afghanistan—i.e., getting al-Qaida—is no longer relevant.”

 

“Still depends what the Taliban does, [but] if possible, yes.”

“We should get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later. This is a war we cannot win.”

No
“The president should stick with the plan and draw down U.S. troops.”

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“We are on track to begin our drawdown later this year and complete it by the end of 2014, when Afghanistan will have in place a combined trained and equipped army and police security [force] of approximately 350,000.”

Not necessarily
“The two are not necessarily related. Osama bin Laden’s death does not change the reality on the ground.”

 

In light of the successful military action that killed Osama bin Laden, should the U.S. accelerate the timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan?

Republicans (31 votes)

Yes: 7%
No: 90%
Too soon to tell (volunteered): 3 %

Yes
“We went into Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaida and bring their leaders to justice. That has now been largely accomplished. Occupying Afghanistan on a long-term basis never was, nor should be, our objective.”

No
“It would be a mistake to jeopardize the progress we’ve made and cede Afghanistan back to al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

“Getting Osama offers an opening both on and off the battlefield. We should seize it and push forward. Quitting after you deal your enemy a setback is the equivalent of taking your foot off his throat once you have him on the ground.”

“While the world is better off without Osama, his hatred lives on in his followers, and we must remain ever vigilant on their next move.”

“The mission and movements must be determined by the commanders on the ground.”

“We should continue to stick to the current timeline, carefully monitoring whether certain benchmarks are met.”

“This is a historic victory, but it should not be factored into a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

“Osama bin Laden is only one man, and his death does not help transition Afghanistan’s defense to the Afghan army. The president’s timetable is aggressive; he should stick with it.”

Too soon to tell
“Too soon to tell how much operational impact killing bin Laden will have on al-Qaida in Afghanistan.”

 

What issue is most on your constituents’ minds these days?

Democrats (31 votes)

Gas prices: 32%
Libya: 0%
Medicare: 13%
National debt: 10%
Unemployment: 42%
Overall economy (volunteered): 3%

Gas prices
“Nothing in Washington compares to state issues in California. All eyes are on Sacramento, not Washington.”

Unemployment
“Shockingly, it’s not the president’s birth certificate. As hard as it is to believe, most people are really concerned more about real issues, like whether they or their neighbors have a job.”

“Unemployment still ranks as the issue most on people’s minds. There is an understanding that full employment will help shrink the debt, make gas more affordable to more people, and increase the revenues flowing into Medicare. Also, Libya is seen more as a speed bump, not as a permanent roadblock to a broader recovery.”

This article appears in the May 7, 2011 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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