Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for an end to war in Afghanistan on Monday during his inaugural speech as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“We need to stand for a new world order in federal spending,” Villaraigosa said. “It’s time to bring our investments back home. We can’t be building roads and bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar, and not Baltimore and Kansas City!”
The nation’s mayors must have been listening, because they used the closing hours of the U.S. Conference of Mayors 79th Annual Meeting to pass a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to “speed up the ending” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. Conference of Mayors has weighed in on foreign policy. “In 1971, the US Conference of Mayors proudly went on record calling for a withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam,” according to Villaraigosa.
Recent polls show a majority of Americans favor withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Last month’s killing of Osama bin Laden came nearly ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that sparked the war. With bin Laden gone, many voters are eager to see the billions of dollars being spent overseas reinvested back home. Villaraigosa reflected that mood in his inaugural address.
“We can’t keep squeezing non-discretionary, non-defense spending and make the investments we need as a nation to compete,” he warned. “Not when we spend $2.1 million on defense every single minute. Not after nearly $1.2 trillion spent and over 6,000 lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The White House is starting to get the message. Today, President Obama is expected to unveil a new plan to begin bringing the troops home from Afghanistan.
Antonio Villaraigosa at Los Angeles 107th annual golden dragon parade. Photo credit: Jim Winstead