Congress is going to vote as soon as Thursday on a $94 billion supplemental funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we need to act fast.
Despite President Obama’s promise of a civilian surge, the supplemental has ten times as much funding for military tools as civilian ones. And as usual there are few strings attached. Tell your representative to support an Afghanistan exit strategy and oppose another blank check.
Rep Jim McGovern (D-MA) is planning to introduce a bill that will require the Defense Department to present an exit strategy to Congress by the end of the year. He wants to offer the bill as an amendment to the supplemental so the entire House will have a chance to vote on this critical issue, but he will only be able to do that if he can demonstrate strong support. In a few short days of organizing, Peace Action West and other groups across the country have managed to get more than 40 representatives cosponsoring the bill. Can we get to 50? 100? That depends on you.
The military strategy continues to have a destabilizing effect in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After a US airstrike killed as many as 100 civilians last week, Afghans protested, throwing rocks and calling for US troops to withdraw. Refugees fleeing fighting between the Pakistani army and the Taliban have been so desperate that some have had to leave their children behind in the midst of violence and confusion. Is this making America safer?
Some people argue that we need to give President Obama’s strategy a chance to work. However, it’s already clear that the military strategy has failed, and many more Afghans, Pakistanis and Americans will face displacement, injury, poverty and death in the meantime. We need to act now.
When I was in Washington, DC, earlier this month meeting with congressional staff, it was clear that many members of Congress are struggling with what to do about Afghanistan and are uneasy with the current approach. We can push them over the edge and make them advocates of nonmilitary solutions, just like we were able to do with the war in Iraq. But that will only happen if your voices are loud and persistent.