[haw-info] "Can the Peace Movement Reach President Obama?"
This message, reprinting an on-line article by Robert Naiman of the group Just Foreign Policy, is sent at the request of several members of the Historians Against the War (HAW) Steering Committee.
NoEscalation.org: Can the Peace Movement Reach President Obama?
By Robert Naiman Common Dreams October 22, 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (for Historians Against the War).