US Congresswoman Calls for End to War; Canada’s New Leader Withdraws from Washington’s War in Syria

October 22nd, 2015 - by admin

Hon. Barbara Lee, US House of Representatives & Jason Ditz / & John Paul Tasker / CBC News – 2015-10-22 00:13:17

Americans Want to End the Country’s Longest War.
Why Won’t Congress Listen?

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

In 2001, I cast Congress’s sole vote against the authorization for military force. Obama pledged to stop the Afghanistan war, but its end is nowhere in sight…. Today, it’s time to bring our troops back home.
— Hon. Barbara Lee, US House of Representatives

WASHINGTON (October 20, 2015) — America’s longest war continues to drag on with no end in sight. More than 14 years since the invasion of Afghanistan, our highly capable men and women in uniform have gone above and beyond the call of duty. They have done enough; it’s past time to bring them home.

On 15 October we saw the ramifications of Congress’s blank check for endless war when President Obama announced that thousands of US troops would remain in Afghanistan through the end of his term and into 2017.

This war has already cost our nation so much: 2,350 of our brave servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice, more than 20,000 have been wounded and thousands more bear invisible scars. This war has also taken the lives of thousands of Afghans and soldiers from our coalition partners and NATO allies.

Continuing this war has not made us any safer. Our protracted engagement in Afghanistan undermines our national security by sparking global resentment against the US and spurring unsustainable Pentagon spending. At present, the war’s price tag totals more than $716bn, which continues to prevent much needed investments in critical domestic priorities.

It’s past time to bring our armed forces home to their families and keep our nation’s sacred promise to care for them. The American people agree: a December Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a 56% majority of Americans believe this war has not been worth fighting, a trend that dates back to 2010. Yet despite the strong objections of the American people, this war continues with no end in sight.

In the dark days following the attacks on September 11, I cast Congress’s sole vote against the authorization for military force (AUMF) that started the war in Afghanistan. I voted against the AUMF because it was so broadly written that it empowered any president to wage endless war in any place at any time without congressional oversight.

In addition to starting the longest war in US history, the 2001 AUMF has emboldened presidential administrations to intervene around the world without a debate in Congress.

According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the 2001 AUMF has been used than 30 times to justify military action, troop deployments, drone strikes and indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay. And that count only includes unclassified uses – meaning there could be many other instances where Congress has been left in the dark.

Since that lonely vote in 2001, many members of Congress have realized that the blanket war authorization opened a Pandora’s box. My bill, HR 1303, would repeal the limitless AUMF, end this war on a reasonable timeline and restore Congress’s constitutional responsibility to debate future wars; it has supporters on both sides of the aisle.

As members of Congress, we take an oath to protect and uphold the US constitution. Yet, for too long, Congress has abdicated its vital role to authorize and supervise our nation’s military actions. The American people deserve a vote, through their congressional representatives, on matters of war and peace.

While Afghanistan and the region still face significant challenges, history has shown that there is no effective military solution. As John Isaacs, a senior fellow at Council for a Livable World, wrote: “More troops, more time, more money, more casualties will simply not bring the war to a close.”

Only an inclusive political solution can bring peace, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan and the region. The future of Afghanistan must be in the hands of the Afghan people. It’s time to bring America’s longest war to a close.

We Must Stop Endless War

Last week, President Obama announced that US troops will remain in Afghanistan for years to come. After more than 14 years of war, there is still no end in sight. This is unacceptable.

I stand by my vote against the AUMF that started this endless war. In addition to the monetary toll and the tragic loss of lives, this blank check for war has allowed the presidential intervention around the world without debate in Congress.

Congress has allowed our role as the authorizers of war to be usurped. It is our job to debate and supervise military action. The American people deserve a voice and a vote.

I’m working to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and the region through political solutions. You can join the movement.

Contribute now to support the fight to stop endless war.

Canada to Withdraw Jets From ISIS War
Jason Ditz /

(October 20, 2015) — Fresh off of his victory in the Canadian elections, Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has confirmed speaking with President Obama and informing him that he would be going through with a campaign promise to withdraw warplanes from the US-led war against ISIS.

Canada had previously committed CF-18 fighter jets to the war through March 2016, and while it’s unclear the exact date of Trudeau’s end, the suggestion is that it will be before that date. He did, however, say trainers would stay in Iraq, but not the ground troops involved in combat missions.

Trudeau had made ending the combat mission against ISIS a centerpiece of his campaign, and the Conservatives campaigned heavily against him on this point, including campaign videos using clips of ISIS propaganda videos interspersed with Trudeau’s comments.

Analysts see the election as in large measure a referendum on Canadian foreign policy, with outgoing PM Stephen Harper representing a more aggressive Canadian policy, eagerly participating in US-led adventures the world over, while Trudeau favors a return to a more humanitarian focus.

Revelations in recent months that Canadian warplanes were accused of killing dozens of civilians in Iraq [“Canadian ISIS Airstrike May Have Killed 27 Civilians”], and that the defense ministry had tried to cover those incidents up, likely added to growing opposition to the war, and Trudeau seems to want to make it very clear his promise to end it wasn’t an empty campaign pledge, but a sincere statement of policy.

Justin Trudeau: I’ll End ISIS Combat Mission, Restore Relations with Iran
John Paul Tasker / CBC News

TORONTO (June 23, 2015) — If the Liberal Party claims victory in the next federal election, Justin Trudeau says, his government would end Canada’s bombing mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and restore diplomatic relations with Iran, in a dramatic departure from the path taken by the Harper government on foreign policy.

“We’d move away from the CF-18 [bombing] mission,” Trudeau said in an interview with Terry Milewski on CBC’s Power & Politics. “This government has failed miserably to demonstrate why the best mission for Canada is to participate in a bombing mission,” Trudeau said.

And while Trudeau pledged to pull Canadian fighter jets from the Middle East, he doubled down on his commitment to send more military personnel to help train Iraqi security forces — beyond the 70 or so Canadian special operations personnel who are currently embedded with the Kurdish Peshmerga.

“We would engage Canada’s military in something we’ve demonstrated tremendous ability at in Afghanistan and elsewhere: training up local troops doing the fighting on the ground.” Trudeau refused to say how many more trainers should be deployed.

US President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that he’d send an additional 450 American troops to advise and assist local Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS.

Trudeau ruled out committing combat troops to Iraq, even as the security situation there deteriorates. ISIS now controls more than a quarter of Iraq including Mosul, the country’s second largest city. ISIS fighters recently took Ramadi, a city about 100 kilometres away from the capital of Baghdad.

“I think 10 years ago we learnt through the first Iraq war what happens when Western troops get involved in combat. They don’t necessarily, whether it’s Libya, whether it’s Iraq, it doesn’t lead to the outcomes that people would responsibly like to see,” Trudeau said.

Relations with Iran
Trudeau also said he’d move to normalize relations with Iran. The Harper government abruptly closed the Canadian Embassy in Tehran in 2012 and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

“I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission, as I understand it, there were security concerns that led to the closing of the mission, but I’m fairly certain that there are ways to re-engage,” Trudeau said.

The comments come as negotiators from the so-called P5+1 — the US, the U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany — seek to hammer out a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Trudeau said he was cautiously optimistic that the two sides could come to an agreement before the June 30 deadline.

The negotiations have faced a barrage of criticism from leaders in Israel, who say any deal with Iran over nuclear weapons is tantamount to appeasement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and economically punishing sanctions against Iran must be preserved.

No GST Hike
The Liberal Party leader also ruled out any new taxes on the middle class to fund any new government initiatives — including a hike to the GST. “Middle-class Canadians have struggled enough — we’re not going to be raising taxes for them,” Trudeau said.

The Liberals say they will boost benefits to Canadians with children if they’re elected. Under the Trudeau plan, families with children under 18 and an annual income below $150,000, about 90 per cent of families, would receive more than they do under the current universal child care benefit.

But the Liberal plan would cost $2 billion more than what the Harper government has set aside for child benefits. Trudeau said he could fill that gap by using the $1.7-billion surplus the federal government is expected to post next year and by putting an end to partisan government advertising.

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