Obama Squeezed by MoveOn.org on Afghanistan

By Gorman Gorman

Sep 25, 2009 2:09pm

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports:

MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group which battled former President Bush on Iraq, is now calling on President Obama to develop an exit strategy for Afghanistan.

"U.S. policy in Afghanistan has reached a pivotal moment," reads MoveOn's email to its members. "Can you write to the White House and tell them we need a clear exit strategy — not tens of thousands more US troops stuck in a quagmire?"
The move is significant because up until now the major liberal groups had kept quiet on Afghanistan, wanting to give the new president time to stabilize a military intervention which has been going on since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

MoveOn's decision to engage a president that it helped elect could increase pressure on President Obama not to go along with calls for a stepped up troop presence in Afghanistan.

The email, which is reproduced below, calls on Obama to listen to people like Vice President Biden and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who are urging "caution" rather than to "pro-war advocates" inside and outside of the administration.

MoveOn's entry into the debate over Afghanistan comes at the end of a week which began with the Washington Post reporting that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, has prepared an assessment stating that more troops are needed or else the mission will fail.

Republicans, including potential presidential candidates Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, have been urging the president this week to move forward with a planned troop build-up.

"This is not time for Hamlet in the White House," said Romney in Monday remarks to the conservative Foreign Policy Initiative.

"He picked his team," Romney added. "This team is unanimous. They have developed a strategy consistent with his principles. How in the world can he at this stage be saying what he is saying?" See below for the full text of MoveOn's email: ###

Dear MoveOn member,
U.S. policy in Afghanistan has reached a pivotal moment. President Obama is poised to make a critical decision about the Afghanistan war in the next few weeks. And there's a big debate happening right now about what to do. Pro-war advocates both inside and outside the administration—including John McCain and Joe Lieberman—are calling for a big escalation.2 The general in charge of Afghanistan is expected to request tens of thousands more troops, and that may just be the beginning.3 They're cranking up the pressure for an immediate surge. But other powerful voices are urging caution: Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have raised real concerns about the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan without a clear strategy4, as have Democrats in Congress.5 And a majority of Americans oppose increasing troop levels.6 Can you write to the White House and tell them we need a clear exit strategy—not tens of thousands more US troops stuck in a quagmire? You can send the President a message by clicking below: http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51843&id=&t=1 Some administration officials are arguing for a smaller, nimbler approach with a narrow focus on the threat from al-Qaeda. But cheerleaders for the war refuse to acknowledge that there could be any viable strategy other than more and more troops. So they're trotting out the same tired old lines and questioning the motives of those who disagree with them.7

They figure they can cut off any debate about our ultimate goals in Afghanistan and the region. But President Obama has consistently shown a willingness to stand up for his more thoughtful approach to foreign policy, and that's what he needs to do here, too.

The hawks are making their position heard. Now, the majority of Americans—those of us who are for as quick and as responsible an end to the war as possible—need to make our voices heard, too.

Can you write to the President now?

-Daniel, Lenore, Kat, Marika, and the rest of the team ###

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