Despite the increasingly dire news coming out of Afghanistan, Congress has been slow to forcefully question whether we are heading down the wrong path. The military is attempting to demonstrate a shift in momentum with its aggressive offensive in Marjah, but news of civilian casualties and displacements are already undermining their “winning hearts and minds” narrative. It’s difficult to imagine that the confidence of villagers in Afghanistan will grow once the “government in a box” is in place.
Meanwhile, in the midst of an economic crisis, Congress will vote in the coming months on $33 billion to send additional troops to Afghanistan, presumably for more counterproductive operations like Operation Moshtarak. Then they will take up a 2011 budget that asks for another $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) aims to bring attention to this misuse of resources with a resolution to end the war in Afghanistan. In a message to supporters, Kucinich said:
The Democrats took control of the Congress in 2006 with a promise to end the War in Iraq and it’s not enough for this Administration to slow-walk the end of the war, which could continue for years to come. And it’s not enough for a Democratic Administration to escalate a war in Afghanistan at a time when there’s no clear objective and no end in sight of the contribution of blood and treasure, to a region which has never been conquered by any foreign country.
It’s time that we take a stand as citizens. And it’s also time to force Congress to take it’s Constitutional responsibility seriously. Article 1, Section 8 requires that Congress has the war-making power. It is absolutely imperative that Congress be required to assert its responsibility on behalf of the American people. Congress is directly elected by the people. And Congress has to respond and step up to it’s responsibility to decide if we’re going to stay at war in Afghanistan. And so, soon, I will bring to the Floor of the House a Privileged Resolution which will force a vote as to whether or not we stay in Afghanistan.
We need as many opportunities as possible to raise opposition to the current strategy and highlight alternative strategies. The vote on this resolution will happen next week. Click here to urge your representative to vote in favor of the Kucinich resolution and speak on the floor in favor of a better nonmilitary approach.
While we have made significant progress in getting Congress to raise concerns, it is unlikely that this resolution calling for a withdrawal by the end of 2010 will pass. However, it offers an important opportunity to highlight the problems with the military-dominated approach and highlight the alternatives that are neglected in the very narrow congressional and public debate. This is yet another stepping stone in our work to build public and congressional support for a less costly and more effective strategy.
As Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and other experts have pointed out, we can have a better impact on our security and stability and quality of life for Afghans through development, diplomacy, and civilian counterterrorism. Our representatives in Congress have a responsibility to spend our tax dollars on a smarter and less counterproductive strategy and free up resources to invest in human needs here in the US. Write to your representative today.