Congress will soon vote on whether to spend another $33 billion of our money to escalate a war in Afghanistan that makes us less safe, violates the basic rule of law, kills innocent people, puts our children in debt, empowers the oil industry, and protects the heroin industry. The only decent, legal, or humane thing a member of Congress could do would be to publicly and privately whip his/her colleagues to vote No and defeat the bill. No caucus is engaged in that effort. As far as I know, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the only one making any gestures in that direction. But a block of congress members is working to propose an amendment to the bill that will allow them to support it while (1) appearing to oppose wars, and (2) making the bill even worse. And even Kucinich supports this counterproductive campaign, as do many peace activists.
Last month we saw 65 congress members vote to completely end the war in Afghanistan. That sent a loud message, but a larger number voting against the funding of an escalation would send a louder message. If 64 of those members who voted to end the war fail to lobby their colleagues against funding an escalation, how seriously should anyone take their message? And if they fail to even vote No themselves, but instead vote to fund the escalation of a war they previously voted to end, what use should anyone ever have for them, rhetorically or otherwise? Or if, in the case of Congressman David Obey, he shepherds the bill to passage after having voted to end the war, and after having sworn he’d oppose any more war funding unless a war tax was established, what use is his rhetoric? But if we assume good faith, then it should go without saying that someone who wants to end a war entirely does not want to fund it or to fund its escalation. Or, if you cannot accept that logic because your television has taught you that we end wars by escalating them, then you should still accept the following: It goes without saying that those who want to end a war want that war to someday end. How could THAT possibly not go without saying? Easily. Like this: the bill to fund the escalation could be amended to say that the president has to plan to someday end the war, although he would be free to change his plan.
That’s what Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill H.R. 5015 does, and he apparently plans to propose it as an amendment to the escalation funding bill that he ought to be opposing. Here’s the language from H.R. 5015:
“(a) Plan With Timetable Required- Not later than January 1, 2011, or 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, whichever is earlier, the President shall submit to Congress a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan, including military and security-related contractors, together with a timetable for the completion of that redeployment and information regarding variables that could alter that timetable.
“(b) Status Updates- Not later than 90 days after the date of the submittal of the plan required by subsection (a), and every 90 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the Congress a report setting forth the current status of the plan for redeploying United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.”
Weak and wobbly, sure, but how does this actually make the bill worse? Here’s how:
(1) It makes this a bill to support instead of oppose, meaning that the House of Representatives then votes unanimously or nearly unanimously to fund the escalation of war, or at least the Democrats do.
Read it all here:
Ending Wars: The Flexible Waiverable Timetable Approach,
David Swanson, April 18, 2010