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Bay Area Congressional Delegation Renews Calls For Quicker Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Publication Date: 
March 14, 2012
Contra Costa Times
Josh Richman

Professor Allan Weiner spoke with Josh Richman of the Contra Costa Times on the amount of authority the President of the United States has when it comes to controlling the deployment of the military."

As the Obama administration continues grinding toward a withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, one group from Congress is renewing its long-standing call for a quicker exit: the Bay Area delegation.

Last month's burning of Qurans by U.S. troops and Sunday's massacre of 16 Afghan civilians -- including nine children -- in Kandahar Province reportedly by a rogue U.S. Army staff sergeant have only made a bad situation worse, they say.


Allen Weiner, co-director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation, said the president has "a tremendous amount of authority to control the deployment of the military" once Congress has authorized it, although Congress still holds the purse strings.

Yet even if lawmakers who want a faster withdrawal can't muster enough votes to have their way with the budget, he said, the broader question is "at what point does it become a huge problem for the president politically to be waging a war if it doesn't seem to have the support either of the American Congress or the American public ... especially in an election year."

Weiner noted there have been "some significant successes" both in military terms and in improving Afghanistan's political atmosphere. It's hard to remain engaged from a distance, he said.

"This is a terrible, terrible string of events and it may be as we have more and more troops engaged in more and more deployments ... the risk of these kinds of incidents accelerates," Weiner said. "But if we weren't there, there would be no negotiations -- the Taliban would fight and win, and we'd be back to where we were in 2001."