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Time to end the war in Afghanistan

Since President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, America has spent an estimated $4 billion on the war in Afghanistan.

According to a count from Operation Enduring Freedom, at least six American troops have died in the past two and a half weeks.

The Afghan war has become the longest in U.S. history, and our patience has officially run out.

Like more than 60 percent of the country, we want the war to stop now, not in a few years. We want our troops to come home before the end of 2011, not in 2013 or 2014.

Americans should be outraged at the lives and dollars spent on what appears to have been a shameless bait-and-switch by our leaders. We should be outraged our government has misused authority given it by lawmakers in 2001 for a war originally pitched as a pursuit of those responsible for 9/11.

Instead, our national government has waged war on countries like Iraq (never considered a haven for al-Qaida) and has held a vague don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with Pakistan. We’re officially allies, but it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see Pakistan’s ties to terrorist groups.

Since our war on terror began in November 2001, its impact on national resources has been devastating. We have spent billions of dollars. We have lost nearly 1,600 American lives in Afghanistan. Those numbers don’t even take into account the war in Iraq.

Recently our government was nearly shut down over congressional budget squabbles, yet we spend an estimated $2 billion weekly in Afghanistan on infrastructure projects. Shouldn’t we be outraged?

Americans need to ask ourselves, what have we really gained? Bin Laden is dead, so justice has been served. But terrorism has not ended.

We think Congressman Ron Paul said it well at the first Republican presidential debate on May 5, hosted by Fox News.

Congressman Paul was asked, if he had been running things as president and troops were already out of Afghanistan, wouldn’t that mean Osama bin Laden would be alive today?

His response: “Absolutely not. (Osama bin Laden) wasn’t caught in Afghanistan. Nation-building in Afghanistan and telling those people how to live and getting involved in running their country hardly had anything to do with finding the information where he was being held in a country that we give billions of dollars of foreign aid to, at the same time we are bombing that country.”

“So it’s the policy that is at fault,” he continued. “Not having the troops in Afghanistan wouldn’t have hurt. We went to Afghanistan to get him, and he hasn’t been there. Now that he’s killed, boy, it is a wonderful time for this country now to reassess it, get the troops out of Afghanistan and end that war that hasn’t helped us and hasn’t helped anybody in the Middle East.”

As pressure mounts from the American public to withdraw from Afghanistan, Obama has regurgitated the policy that mandates the start of  troop removal by July of this year. At this point, however, no one in his administration seems to know how many troops will come home in that first wave.

In a recent interview with Katie Couric, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he feels it is too early to tell if bin Laden’s death will accelerate troop withdrawal.

But with bin Laden dead, America’s continued presence in the region, including Iraq, will do nothing but reinforce the belief that the last 10 years were more about nation-building and oil acquisition than protecting Americans from terrorists.

We hope the government has the decency to bring our men and women home now, alive, so we can get on with what is most needed at present: an invigorated focus on domestic issues and a whole lot of restoration.