Tom Hayden / The Peace and Justice Resource Center – 2014-12-04 23:13:32
Expanding the Long War
Tom Hayden / The Peace and Justice Resource Center
(December 3, 2014) — At the risk of sounding extreme, there is a sense in which a kind of peaceful military coup is underway in the United States. Republicans led by John McCain are back in control of the Senate’s military committees.
Secretary Hagel, no friend of escalating wars, has been forced from his Pentagon office. Planned cuts in military spending are on hold. The generals are all but demanding a deployment of US ground troops. American combat in Afghanistan is being extended for another year.
The CIA still prevents the Senate intelligence committee from releasing its report on the CIA, a case of the dog muzzling the watchdog. It’s all within the borders of the constitution, while the new war itself is not.
There is no counterweight so far from Congress, the mainstream media or the informed public, frozen in fear of the Islamic State, trapped on the staircase of escalation if only to avoid defeat.
Talk about reset! It’s as if the 2008 and 2012 elections never happened. Curiously, the peace movement, now wallowing in weakness, is being blamed for all this. It is said that we forced Obama into a premature withdrawal from Iraq, that America should never end a war until we win it.
Let’s set the record straight. The peace movement generally warned that this Long War could not be won, could not be afforded, and could only end in permanent quagmire, especially if it left Assad in power in Damascus while abandoning the Sunnis of Iraq to their fate under the Shiite regime we installed.
That said, the peace movement has to do everything possible to extricate the president from the worsening mess. How can this be done? By trying to contain the pressures for escalation and preparing American public opinion for cutting our losses.
And by continuing to place the blame on the neo-conservatives, the hawks, the Republican diehards, and the contractors, for the “politics of blame” is central to the history of the Cold War and the War on Terror. If Obama just walks away, which he won’t, he will be impeached.
The public debate about this crisis may escalate as soon as this week if Congress takes up the question of authorizing the new wars. Though there is a powerful wish on the part of some in Congress to simply blame Obama for everything and begin fund-raising for 2016, there is a counter-pressure from others who wish to either officially green-light the killing or impose restraints on the power of executive war-making.
Sen. Rand Paul, for example, wants to shed his former isolationist image and authorize an all-out bloodbath. Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Adam Schiff want to protect the role of Congress, authorize some sort of limited war and require another authorization vote before 2016.
Wars — and reputations — are won or lost from these obscure beginnings, so attention must be paid.
For example, peace activists are better at maximizing their impact when they can besiege a local congressional office with leaflets, petitions and bodies. It’s harder to “lobby” against the CIA’s secret wars in faraway countries. A bigger reason for paying attention is the fact that presidential campaigns have been known to be launched (Howard Dean, Barack Obama) or crash on the question of authorizations (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry).
The first step is the petition [see below] demanding that Congress debate the war as demanded by the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Members of Congress need to be put on the record, their votes recorded before their constituencies, so they cannot slither away.
If they do authorize destruction instead of diplomacy, there must be absolute restraints placed on the administration’s policy to prevent the slippery slope towards more escalation; the most important conditions being a flat prohibition of American combat troops and a timetable before another authorization vote is required during the 2016 election period.
The peace movement needs to reassemble itself into a long peace movement against the long war.
Petition Congress to End the Escalation in Iraq & Syria
Petition published by Tom Hayden / GoPetition.com
ACTION: Sign Petition Here.
Petition Background (Preamble):
Congress must use its constitutional powers under the War Powers Resolution to place limits on the unauthorized US military intervention in Iraq and Syria. By executive order alone, our government is plunging into a deepening sectarian war. Congressional debate can shed light on this new war, and a Congressional vote can allow American citizens to hold our elected representatives accountable in 2016.
While pledging “no US ground troops”, the administration has dispatched 3,000 American troops as advisers and to provide close air support in combat zones, where they will come under fire. The bombing campaign cost $580 million through mid-October, and the president is asking for a down payment of $5 billion for a war projected to last three years.
Starting with serious public debate, a new peace movement is needed to stop the drift towards quagmire.
Led by a handful of dissenters, Congressional opposition was critical in ending the Vietnam War, and in bringing the most recent Iraq War to a formal ending. The checks and balances which were imposed by Congress on the powers of the presidency and intelligence agencies in the 1970s have fallen away.
Since the presidentsays there is no military solution, the Congress should vote no against another war in the Middle East. Should Congress vote in favor, crucial amendments are need to prevent another open-ended war. The “enemy” must be narrowly defined. The pledge of “no American ground troops” must be codified.
A sunset must be placed on the authorization so that Congress is compelled to vote again before 2016. Independent reporting on taxpayer costs and civilian casualties must be assured. A political settlement that protects disenfranchised and oppressed Sunnis from the US-sponsored Shiite regime inBaghdad must be assured.
Many Americans rightly oppose the shocking religious extremism of the Islamic State and embrace our military action. Forgotten in the rush to war is the fact that we have been at this abyss before. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 preceded the growth of Al Qaeda there. ISIS became its malignant offshoot in Sunni regions repressed by our client state in Baghdad.
Is this not a case where the military medicineworsens the disease? The last Iraq War led to long-terms costs in thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars wasted which should have been spent on the environment, education and jobs. We simply cannot afford to repeat the past.
We call for a full debate on whether to authorize the widening new war in Iraq and Syria. A congressional vote will allow citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable now and in 2016.
Since President Obama already says there is no military solution and the war will last at least three years, we urge a No vote.
If the new war is authorized, the following conditions must be debated and voted on:
1. A narrow definition of “the enemy” — the Islamic State — no loophole to a wider war as occurred in the war-on-terrorism, where an open-ended mandate led to wars and quagmires in many countries;
2. Keep the presidential pledge that there will be no American ground troops; already that promise has changed to no “combat” troops;
3. A sunset provision ending the war authorization in one year, thus requiring another Congressional approval before 2016;
4. An independent reporting mechanism for all casualties, civilian casualties, direct and indirect taxpayer costs, and measurements of progress;
5. A primary emphasis on diplomacy aimed at power-sharing among disenfranchised communities and a prohibition against funding sectarian war.
Wars are easy for politicians to approve. But history shows that lives and resources are needlessly lost, and careers ruined, when they become quagmires.
The Petition Congress to End the Escalation in Iraq & Syria petition to United States’ Congress was written by Tom Hayden and is in the category Politics at GoPetition. Contact author here