Despite this public outcry to end America’s longest war, also reflected in other polls, our military leaders are actually extending the timetable for withdrawal—a 2011 deadline has become 2014, and there is speculation it could go well beyond that.
Congress must act now to reverse course in Afghanistan, and with nine bipartisan colleagues, I have introduced a bill today that would do that by requiring that the U.S. negotiate a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with the government of Afghanistan.
SOFAs may sound like exotic diplomatic tools, but the United States is currently party to more than 100 of them. These agreements spell out the terms of the U.S. troop presence in a host country, and it is irresponsible that after eight years we do not have one with Afghanistan.
In our SOFA with Iraq, a deadline has been established for the withdrawal of United States troops by a date certain.
A SOFA with Afghanistan should do the same.
My bipartisan bill, The U.S.-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Act, would require the president to negotiate and enter into a bilateral status of forces agreement with the Government of Afghanistan no later than 90 days after its enactment.
The SOFA would:
• Establish that the temporary presence of United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan is at the request and invitation of the sovereign Government of Afghanistan.
• Prohibit permanent bases.
• Provide a date, no later than 1 year after the agreement is entered into with the Government of Afghanistan, for the complete, safe, and orderly redeployment from Afghanistan of all members of the United States Armed Forces, Department of Defense civilian employees, and contractors working for the Department of Defense.
A SOFA with Afghanistan would end the persistent waffling on dates for American troop withdrawals and give the American people what they want—a speedier, more certain end to this disastrous conflict.
The original co-sponsors of the bill are: Republicans John Duncan,
Walter Jones, Ron Paul and Democrats Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, Raul
Grijalva, Mike Honda, Jim McGovern, Maxine Waters.