Despite Disappointing House Vote, A Turning Point on Afghanistan War?

July 29, 2010

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 308-114 to fund the continued escalation of the failed US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. First off, thanks to all who lobbied their Member of Congress to vote against continuing to squander our tax dollars on this war, when we have such pressing economic needs here at home.

While this is of course a major disappointment, there was no realistic expectation the House would not vote to continue the war, and we did pick up some new war opponents in both parties. Veteran peace activist Tom Hayden’s article in The Nation is worth a read in this regard.

My sense, shared by many in the peace movement, is public, Congressional and even media support for the war is waning. The WikiLeaks posting of 92,000 documents related to the war just a few days before the vote may, in the long run, help end the war, as long as the substance of the documents, which show what a disaster the war effort has been, with no end in sight, is the focus rather than the leaks and the illegality of them. See Hannah Gurman’s article in Foreign Policy in Focus on this important issue.

Peace Action is helping to build powerful new alliances with economic justice and human needs groups to challenge not just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, but the whole gargantuan military budget robbing us of the resources we need to invest in building our economy, funding human needs and saving the environment.

On October 2, peace activists will rally and march in Washington, DC with unions, civil rights and human needs groups under the banner One Nation Working Together. A week later, around the ninth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan (it’s our longest war), Peace Action will help organize a global day of action to end the war in Afghanistan with partners in NATO and other countries.

More on these and other opportunities  soon!


“92,000 reasons to get out of Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pick one”

July 27, 2010

Dear [[supporter.First_Name]],

Rep. Kucinich put it bluntly last week when he said there are, “92,000 reasons to get out of Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pick one.” He was referring to the latest WikiLeaks controversy which resulted in one of the largest releases of confidential U.S. military documents in history.

Today, the House is voting on the war funding supplemental and we need your support to sway as many Representatives as we can our way. Reps. Kucinich and Paul have also introduced legislation, House Concurrent Resolution 301, calling for all U.S. troops to withdraw from their covert operations in Pakistan. We need your immediate support on these two pieces of legislation before the final votes later today. Call this number provided by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, 1-888-493-5443, to give your Representative your reason for ending the war in Afghanistan.

Realistically, this will not be the vote which will see our troops finally leave Afghanistan. But it’s a critical opportunity to turn outrage into political power and to build the capital we will need to finally achieve withdrawal. Just as the leaking of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg proved to be a turning point in the Vietnam War, the brave actions of Bradley Manning may be what it takes to end this one.

The atmosphere in Congress is shifting; call 1-888-493-5443 right now to take advantage of it. Ask your Representative to vote against the Supplemental and to vote in support of House Concurrent Resolution 301 to remove U.S. troops from Pakistan. When you’ve finished making your calls, please report back on them on our Peace Blog.

Sincerely,

Kevin M. Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


Ask your Senators to Pass the New START

July 9, 2010

Hearings on START, a treaty between the United States and Russia, are currently underway, and it is critical that Senators hear from their constituents, expressing strong support for its ratification.  is expected to come up for ratification before the Senate’s August recess. The new treaty limits the U.S. and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed delivery vehicles.  The treaty has broad based support from diplomats and high-ranking officials from past administrations. Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker as well as Secretary of State Clinton have all endorsed New START at hearings held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Even Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense is in support of the treaty stating that it “The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America’s military leadership.”

The treaty is a modest but critical step towards the goal of nuclear weapons, and despite the broad support it has, there will be strong opposition from Republicans seeking to deny President Obama and Democrats another legislative victory. Please send a message to your two Senators and urge them to pass New START.


House Stands Firm on Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable

July 3, 2010
Thanks to Tom for giving Peace Action a shout out:
Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)

House Stands Firm on Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable

Tom Hayden | July 2, 2010

One hundred sixty-two House members, including a large majority of Democrats, sent a significant antiwar message to President Obama last night, forcing the White House to depend for Afghanistan war support on the Republicans who want to unseat the Democrats and Obama himself in upcoming elections.

Despite claims by punditry that the antiwar movement has disappeared, stalwart Representative Barbara Lee gained 100 votes for her amendment rejecting $33 billion for 30,000 new troops already being sent to Afghanistan. Seven of her votes were Republicans. The measure would have redirected the $33 billion to expenses incurred in redeploying the troops out of Afghanistan.

More significant numerically, there were 162 votes cast for Representative Jim McGovern’s amendment, co-authored by representatives David Obey and Walter Jones, which articulated a game plan for ending the war. Only a year ago, the same measure was introduced as a general and non-binding resolution. This time the proposal required, as a condition of funding, an exit proposal including a withdrawal timetable, by next spring, before the president’s announced plan to “begin” withdrawals in July. Further, in response to rising pressure to delay withdrawals, the McGovern proposal would require another Congressional vote if the administration succumbed to pressure from Republicans and the military to delay the beginning departure date.

Among Democrats, the vote for McGovern was 153-98, with nine Republican supporters. Significantly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who this week predicted a strong Democratic push for a “substantial drawdown” by next year, voted with McGovern.

Beltway-based peace groups were surprised by the outcome. “All in all, we did better than I expected,” blogged Paul Kawika-Martin of Peace Action as the televised vote rolled across the CSPAN screen.

Though the war will escalate as a result of the final vote, the opponents sent a powerful message to the president and newly confirmed Gen. David Petraeus that antiwar pressure will only increase in the period ahead, adding important pressure for the July 2011 deadline to be maintained and clarified by a timeline for completion, as originally proposed by Senator Russ Feingold.

The message is sure to reinforce the belief in the Karzai administration, the Pakistan government and among NATO allies that time is running out, thus giving an impetus for accelerating talks with the Taliban.

The escalating offensive in southern Afghanistan will continue apace, with uncertain results.

The Taliban may misread the message from Congress, however, and overplay their hand. Their strength lies in southern Pashtun communities in southern Afghanistan and Pakistan, suggesting that their future lies in a negotiated power-sharing arrangment with the northern tribes and warlords they fought in the civil war nearly a decade ago. The McGovern proposal foreshadows a scenario of peace diplomacy that stabilizes a deeply divided country.


Source URL: http://www.thenation.com/article/36993/house-stands-firm-afghanistan-withdrawal-timetable

Afghanistan amendments being voted on in the House tonight.

July 1, 2010

Three amendments will be voted tonight in the House:

1.  The McGovern (D-MA)-Obey (D-WI)-Jones (R-NC) amendment would have required the president to present Congress with 1) a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011 and 2) a plan by April 4, 2011 on the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment.  The amendment also requires Congress to vote by July 2011 if it wants to allow the obligation and expenditure of funds for Afghanistan in a manner that is not consistent with the president’s announced policy of December 2009 to begin to drawdown troops by July 2011.   The amendment also requires quarterly reports to Congress on the status of the plan submitted to Congress and strengthens and expands oversight of private contractors in Afghanistan to deal more effectively with corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.  Last, the amendment clarifies that no part of the amendment shall limit the president’s ability to attack al Qaeda, gather and share intelligence with allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or modify U.S. military strategy on-the-ground over the period of redeployment.

Full text here:

McGovern Obey amendment_xml

2.

The amendment offered by Barbara Lee (D-CA) would have limited would limit funds for military operations in Afghanistan for only force protection and to begin the redeployment of all troops and military contractors.

Full text here:

Amendment 4 (HR 4899)

3.  The third amendment would simply strike all Afghanistan military funding from the bill


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