If there were ever a time when the peace movement should be able to have an impact on U.S. foreign policy, that time should be now. If there were ever a time for extraordinary effort to achieve such an impact, that time is now.
The war in Afghanistan is in its ninth year. McChrystal's proposal could continue it for another ten years, at a likely cost of a trillion dollars, and many more lives of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians. The contradiction between domestic needs and endless war was never more apparent. Congress fights over whether we can "afford" to provide every American with quality health care, but every health care reform proposal on the table will likely cost less than McChrystal's endless war. A recent CNN poll says 6 in 10 Americans oppose sending more troops.
Democratic leaders in Congress are deeply skeptical: as far back as June, Rep. Murtha and Rep. Obey voted for Rep. McGovern's amendment demanding an exit strategy, and that was before the Afghan election fiasco, when international forces failed at their key objective of providing security, and before McChrystal demanded a 60% increase in U.S. forces, on top of the 50% increase approved earlier this year. Our troops are "exhausted," Murtha says.
Top Administration officials share the skepticism. Vice- President Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and Afghan scholar Barnett Rubin, an advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke, have all been arguing against a troop increase: the political people on the grounds that the American people and Congress won't support it; Biden on the grounds that it would be a diversion from Pakistan; Rubin on the grounds that it would be counterproductive to reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Elite opinion is closely divided. This is a jump ball. It could go either way. And a decision by Nobel Laureate Obama to send 40,000 more U.S. troops is likely to severely constrain U.S. policy, abroad and at home, for many years.
Such a time calls for extraordinary efforts to mobilize public opinion to move policy.
National peace advocacy organizations, including Peace Action, Just Foreign Policy, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and Voters for Peace, are launching such an extraordinary effort. At the joint website noescalation.org, we're posting the phone numbers of every Congressional office, and what is known so far about where they stand on the proposal to send 40,000 more U.S. troops. We're asking Americans to call Congressional offices and search the media for information on where each Member of Congress stands. And we're asking for that information to be reported back to the website noescalation.org.
The more Members of Congress take a clear stand against military escalation, the more likely President Obama is to reject McChrystal's request. Some Members of Congress are saying, "we're waiting to see what the President decides." But that nonsense is an obvious dodge. The time to affect the President's decision is obviously before he makes it, not afterwards. Of course some Members of Congress are going to avoid taking a position if they can. Our job is to smoke them out.
Call now. The Norwegians are counting on you.
Supplementary Note by Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg
Robert Naiman underscores the importance of getting members of Congress to speak out NOW against escalating the US military presence in Afghanistan, instead of waiting on the President. At present the strongest vehicle for expressing Congressional dissent is HR 3699, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, which would prohibit the use of funds to increase the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan. It presently has a list of 23 co-sponsors: To see the list: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3699.
If you have not already done so, please call the Washington offices of your member of Congress expressing opposition to the proposed troop buildup and asking them to co-sponsor HR 3699. Be sure to inquire where that member of Congress stands on the issue of expanding the war. Any interesting results please post on the website: http://NoEscalation.org and to email@example.com (for Historians Against the War).
To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the fourth biweekly mailing of links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics.Suggestions for inclusion are welcome: they can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the workinggroup for this project are listed below.
Here are some notes of possible interest to members and friends of Historians Against the War:
1.A number of well-known antiwar activists have signed onto a statement being circulated by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, calling for an end to US military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan.The statement and a partial list of signers are at http://www.cpdweb.org/stmts/1014/stmt.shtml.
2."John Marciano, a retired historian now living in Santa Monica (and a longtime HAW member), is interested in helping to start an informal discussion group in the Los Angeles area. He can be reached at email@example.com."
3.Middle East historian Irene Gendzier, who has been a featured speaker at several HAW events, wrote to ask us to pass along a link to the web site www.israeli-occupation.org, which she finds valuable.
4.The following is a legislative update from Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg of the HAW Steering Committee:
Congress has nearly completed its work on the 2010 Defense budget with a total of approximately $636 billion in expenditures. This includes $128.2 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite numerous statements from members of Congress, expressing concern about US policy in Afghanistan, only one Senator (Russ Feingold) and a handful of representative in the House have voted against the money. This is a clear and troubling sign of how reluctant antiwar Democrats have become now that President Obama is in the White House.
At present the clearest expressions of Congressional dissent is a new bill HR 3966, introduced by Barbara Lee which would prohibit the use of funds to increase the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan. It presently has a list of 22 co-sponsors: To see the list: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3699
It would be very helpful if historians called the Washington offices of your member of Congress expressing support for HR 3699. If that member has not agreed to be a co-sponsor, it would also be useful to ask why they have not done so. Any interesting results please forward to firstname.lastname@example.org
To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the third biweekly mailing of links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics.Suggestions for inclusion are welcome: they can be sent to email@example.com. Members of the workinggroup for this project are listed below.
Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg
"Are We the Martians of the Twenty-First Century?"
[haw-info] An Appeal to HAW Members and Supporters
HAW Members and Supporters,
The crisis in Afghanistan is deepening, militaristic circles are calling for the deployment of more US troops, and opposition at home and abroad is growing. HAW stands with this opposition, and is deeply concerned about the effects of an expanded war on the peoples of Afghanistan and the region, and on the struggle for reform at home.
Because of this, we are asking that:
1. If you haven't done so, sign the new HAW Statement, expressing your substantial agreement with its content, and thereby become a full HAW member;
2. Considering making a donation to HAW, so that we can build a treasury for the continuing struggle.
Donations may be made online through Paypal, or be mailed to Historians Against the War, c/o Van Gosse, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003. Those donating $40 or more will receive a free copy of HAW's most recent pamphlet, "The Bush-Cheney Years," based on our roundtable at last January's AHA.