Farah Stockman / The Globe Staff & Voters for Peace – 2009-05-15 22:33:27
Veterans Boost McGovern Bill
Calling for Afghanistan Exit Strategy
Farah Stockman / The Globe Staff
WASHINGTON (ay 14, 2009) — Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts, who has launched the only effort in the US House to oppose President Obama’s plans for the Afghan war, received an unexpected boost of support yesterday from a group of Afghan and Iraqi war veterans, who raced around Capitol Hill lobbying for his bill.
Congress is expected today to approve swiftly the $94.2 billion war-funding bill, which would support the 21,000 additional combat troops and military trainers Obama plans to deploy. But McGovern’s bill, which the Democrat will file today, would require the Pentagon to come up with an exit strategy by the end of the year.
The veterans, who are part of a small but growing group of Americans who oppose the Afghan war, traveled to Washington this week, shadowed by the Brave New Foundation, a nonprofit film company based in California that produces social justice documentaries and has launched a campaign called Rethink Afghanistan.
Realizing that it could not stop the supplemental measure, the group focused instead on getting more support for McGovern’s bill.
“Without an exit strategy, then the mission is doomed to fail,” said Jake Diliberto, who fought in Afghanistan in 2001 as a Marine. Rick Reyes, a former Marine corporal who also served in Afghanistan shortly after the US invasion, said he never thought he would lobby Congress. But by midafternoon, he had met with representatives from 20 offices. The group planned to meet with 100 more. “So far the response has been positive, but you never know how they will vote,” said Reyes, who believes the operations in Afghanistan have made the United States less safe.
Still, many members of Congress are reluctant to question a war that is directly linked to an attack on the United States, not to mention a popular president.
Representative Raul M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the Progressive Congressional Caucus and shares skepticism about the troop increase, told the veterans their message is still a difficult sell. “I think there is a sense that there is no other option,” he said. Sixty members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors of McGovern’s bill.
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More Troops and Mercenaries
Will Not Bring Peace
Voters for Peace
Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved $97 billion dollars in additional funding for wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, including more funding for the unmanned drones and air strikes that are killing civilians. Sixty members of the House of Representatives voted against the funding and 76 members co-sponsored a bill urging an exit strategy from Afghanistan.
We know that more troops and mercenaries will not bring peace and stability to Afghanistan or Pakistan. Unfortunately for each of the last four year the United States has increased the number of troops, the number of aerial bombings, the number of drone attacks and the result is that violence is getting worse and both Afghanistan and Pakistan are less stable.
I am asking you to take action by contacting your representatives in the U.S. Senate. Your calls and emails made a difference in the House. Elected officials are questioning the wisdom of the Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. The House set some conditions on the war funding that we support, including:
• Re-affirming the ban on permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq;
• Banning permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan; and
• Supporting President Obama’s due dates for withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011 (which is not fast enough for us).
President Obama’s supplemental devotes only 5% of the Iraq and Afghanistan funds to civilian peace building and 95% to military action. This is the wrong direction and it is going to take the voices of many Americans to change course.
Next week your senators will be considering the war funding supplemental. Please take action to urge your senators to oppose the war supplemental. If your senators aren’t willing to vote against new war funding, they should be challenged to reaffirm that the United States will not build permanent bases in Afghanistan or Iraq, to demand an end to the air war, and to insist that Obama articulate an exit strategy from Afghanistan.
• Urge your senators to vote no on more funding for the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq wars. Write a letter today urging them to vote against more funding for war and to insist that Congress demand a new policy in Afghanistan that would bring peace, not a continuation of war. Click here to send a letter now.
• Join the discussions and actions on military spending at ProsperityAgenda.US
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