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To The Villagers, Debating The Afghan War Is "Venting"
Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 9th, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

I keep running into decent liberals who are great on every issue and who still hate Bush and Cheney for attacking Iraq but who almost blindly defend the Pentagon/Obama war agenda in Afghanistan. They’re making a big mistake on many levels. The only outcome in Afghanistan, short of utterly destroying it– something not even the Soviets seriously contemplated– is leaving that hellhole to work out– or not– its own prehistoric problems. Here in the U.S., Afghan policy is destined to wreck Obama’s presidency and help turn that which so recently looked so promising into a runner-up with Bush as the worst presidency in American history. And, as with all wars, the mass media is the cheering squad.

In a condescending article in today’s Washington Post, Perry Bacon dismisses an attempt to make Congress live up to its constitutional obligations in regard to war as “venting.” Isn’t that funny and snarky? I bet Perry Bacon doesn’t have a relative on duty or shipping out to the great metropolis of Marja– a scattered collection of rural mud-baked family compounds far from any real roads and as far as you can get from the 21st Century on this planet (unless you count the modern weapons). “Liberals in the House,” he writes with contempt, “who have spent much of the past year complaining that other congressional Democrats and the White House are insufficiently progressive, will get a chance this week to vent about one of their biggest concerns: the war in Afghanistan.” I wonder if Bacon is aware that the move to bring Afghan policy under constitutional purview is a bipartisan goal and that some very unlikely Republicans– so beyond Ron Paul– are as disturbed by the pointless and bloody occupation of Afghanistan as are the progressives he loathes. I doubt it. More likely he’s tuned into the same cookie cutter Establishment Republicans Beltway journalists always count as “serious.” Like the clownish Miami Republican who serves as the GOP’s ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose response to the debate is summarized in a talking points memo she sent out to her fellow Republicans this week:

That’s what passes for “serious” to the Villagers, who are already denigrating the debate Kucinich and 16 co-sponsors are forcing on House leadership tomorrow. They’re demanding Congress pass a law that would bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Hoyer and Pelosi have grudgingly granted them 3 hours of debate.

The resolution will invoke the 1973 War Powers Act, which Congress passed in protest of the escalation of the Vietnam War by a series of presidents without formal congressional authorization. It requires congressional approval for a president to put troops in a military conflict for more than 90 days. Congress passed a resolution authorizing military force in Afghanistan in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and some congressional scholars doubt Congress can invoke the act now to force changes to President Obama’s war policy.

Whether or not it would have any legal force if enacted, the resolution has almost no chance of being approved in the House, where nearly all Republicans and many Democrats support maintaining or increasing troop levels.

…”We haven’t had a real debate,” Kucinich said in explaining why he was pushing the resolution. “We want to light the fire of the American peace movement.” (And, he added, “get out of there!”)

Democratic leaders support bringing the measure to a vote to give antiwar lawmakers an opportunity to register their frustration with Obama’s decision to increase troop levels by 30,000 before Congress approves the funding for the surge.

The administration has requested $33 billion to boost the U.S. force in Afghanistan from about 70,000 to 100,000, a request that could be debated and approved by Congress as soon as next month. A $96.7 billion funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drew 60 “no” votes in the House last year, 51 of them from Democrats.

“There are many members in the caucus who are eager to have a vote soon on Afghanistan,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said when Kucinich proposed the measure. “This may satisfy that need.”

The vote will be a measure of the depth of opposition to Obama’s war policy, because it is not tied to troop funding, which lawmakers in both parties are loath to vote against.

Reading deeper into Ros-Lehtinen’s instructions for Republican “talkers,” one has to wonder if someone in the White House didn’t help her get them together!

• It is rarely a good strategy to advise retreat during a war, but it is strange indeed to do so when the war is being won.
• The new strategy in Afghanistan being implemented by General McChrystal is already producing dramatic successes, including the capture of key Taliban leaders, the routing of Taliban forces, and the liberation of key areas of the country.
• A winning strategy should be supported, not undermined.
• This resolution is an effort to snatch a shameful defeat from the hard-won jaws of victory.  In recent months, working with the Government of Pakistan, U.S. and NATO efforts have helped lead to:
• the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second in command of the Taliban and the director of the Taliban council; 
• the capture of Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the leader of the Taliban’s Peshawar Regional Military Council; 
• the capture of Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban shadow governor of Kunduz; 
• the killing of Mullah Mir Mohammed, the Taliban shadow governor of Baghlan province;
• the capture of Mohammed Younis, the former Taliban shadow governor of Zabul province;
• the killing of Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, a top Pakistani Taliban commander;
• the capture of Agha Jan Mohtasim, the former Finance Minister during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the son-in-law of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar; and
• the reported killing of Baitullah Mehsud, a senior Pakistani Taliban leader.

 • This resolution would provide the Taliban leaders and fighters with a shield against U.S. forces they otherwise cannot stop.
• This legislatively mandated retreat would dramatically undermine the safety of the American people because the revived Taliban would quickly turn Afghanistan into a protected base of operations for al Qaeda and other enemies of the United States.
• In their hiding places in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban leaders and fighters are closely following our debates here even as they plan their next assaults on us and our forces. 
• They are strengthened and encouraged by every word spoken in favor of this resolution.
• Anything less than absolute repudiation of this resolution will provide aid and comfort to the Taliban.
• This House would far better serve the American people by focusing its energy and attention on reviving the economy, creating jobs, cutting the deficit, and strengthening our defenses against attack than to undermine the security of our nations through resolutions such as this one.

I wonder how Ros-Lehtinen and her zombie squad of “talkers” would answer this ad from a veterans’ group pointing out the relationship between the energy policies she supports and the war policies she supports:

And who are the Members of Congress trying to end this war– for real? Well, there were 32 courageous Democrats who voted against Obama’s supplemental war funding last June. And these are the members who immediately signed on to Kucinich’s resolution that will be debated tomorrow: John Conyers (D-MI); Ron Paul (R-TX); José Serrano (D-NY); Bob Filner (D-CA); Lynn Woolsey (D-CA); Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC); Danny Davis (D-IL); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Michael Capuano (D-MA); Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Timothy Johnson (R-IL); Yvette Clarke (D-NY); Eric Massa (D-NY); Alan Grayson (D-FL); and Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Eric Massa will be sorely missed from this debate.

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