Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the human rights/fair trade group Global Exchange.
With a vote scheduled tonight on the $33 billion supplemental for the Afghan war, members of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus held a press conference today, July 1 to express their opposition to the war funding. The Caucus, chaired by Congressman John Conyers, is an informal group of 21 members dedicated to reorienting US policy towards diplomacy and the swift redeployment of the US military.
Speaking at the press conference were Rep. John Conyers, Bob Filner, Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Sheila Jackson Lee and Mike Honda. Cong. Maxine Waters arrived late and didn’t get a chance to speak.
The congresspeople addressed the hypocrisy of the fiscal conservatives in Congress who are concerned about the out-of-control deficit but support the war supplemental. Cong. Conyers labeled his Out of Afghanistan group the “fiscally-conservative doves” and called on fiscal conservatives of all political stripes to vote against the war supplemental. Cong. Honda complained that the administration said last year would be the last time the war budget was presented as a supplemental, outside the normal budget, but then the administration turned around and requested another supplemental. “Supplementals are always deficit spending and if fiscal conservatives are serious, they must vote against this,” Honda said.
Congressman Filner, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, painted a grim picture of the cost of the war for U.S. soldiers. While the official figures talk about 5,000 dead and 45,000 wounded, he said the true cost was exponentially higher. “Close to one million soldiers have visited VA hospitals for war-related injuries. Hundreds of thousands have brain injuries or PTSD,” he said. “We can’t keep this up. It’s time to bring our children home.”
Congresswoman Chu said that Congress was first told by Secretary Gates that we needed 2,500 more soldiers in Afghanistan, then Admiral Mullen called for 20,000 more, then McChrystal said 30,000 more. “What is the correct number of troops we need in Afghanistan,” she asked. “Zero. More troops just means more trouble.”
Congressman Nadler said we had every right to target bases where people were plotting against to attack us, but not to make war against those countries. “We have no business intervening in an Afghan civil war,” he said. “It’s a fool’s errand. If the Afghan soldiers don’t have the will and motivation to fight the Taliban, we can’t instill that in them. And without the will and motivation, there’s no winning.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee related the war funding to the BP disaster. “We have a crisis of tsunami proportions in our own Gulf with the BP disaster that will require billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars. We need our resources to fight this war at home,” she said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee talked about her amendment to strike war funding from the Supplemental, and the hopes that her amendment will be voted on tonight. The other anti-war amendment is the one presented by Cong. Jim McGovern, which calls for a detailed withdrawal plan and has 100 co-sponsors.
Before the vote tonight, we need an all-out push for more 'no' votes. The following list of “liberal Democrats” must be pressured to vote no: Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Jerry Costello, Barney Frank, Luis Gutierrez, Jay Inslee, Steve Kagen, John Lewis, Edward Markey, Doris Matsui, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal, James Oberstar, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Edolphus Towns, Nydia Velázquez, and Anthony Weiner.
While Afghanistan Caucus members spoke passionately today about ending the war, unfortunately they, and the anti-war movement, don’t have the clout to stop this round of war funding. Even though the majority of Americans now oppose the war, the majority in Congress will probably still vote for it. While we must make every effort possible today to get more anti-war votes, we have to build a stronger movement if we are really serious about ending this war!
January 28th, 2014
In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response ...
January 21st, 2014
My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you ...
December 18th, 2013
This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, 'Roger & Me', has been ...
December 14th, 2013
[View the story "Michael Moore Tweets on Eve of Newtown Anniversay" on Storify]
November 9th, 2013
Click here for this week's full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The day has arrived. For ...
September 10th, 2013
[View the story "John Kerry's Accidental Diplomacy" on Storify]
July 30th, 2013
Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. ...
September 11th, 2010
OpenMike 9/11/10 Michael Moore's daily blog I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on ...
December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that ...
May 12th, 2011
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different." – Michael Moore in ...
November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and ...
September 22nd, 2011
I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask ...
December 16th, 2010
Dear Swedish Government: Hi there -- or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your ...
November 2nd, 2010
This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That -- and where to go from ...