Got a Minute? Congressman McGovern & 80% of Afghans Need You

Tom Andrews

Just now, the House of Representatives finished debate on
Congressman McGovern's amendment to the Defense Authorization bill
calling for an exit strategy for the war in Afghanistan. With voting on
all amendments scheduled for later today, Congressman McGovern and the
80% of Afghans who oppose an escalation of foreign troops in their
country need your help. Call your Member of Congress at (202)
224-3121 and ask them to support the McGovern/Jones/Lee/Pingree
amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, H.R. 2647.

There is no doubt that opponents of Congressman Jim McGovern's
(D-MA) amendment to the House Defense bill are taking his call for a
military exit strategy for U.S. troops from Afghanistan quite
seriously. They brought out their big guns from both sides of the
political aisle just now on the House floor to try and defeat it.

The arguments of the Chairmen and ranking members of both the House
Armed Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committees were almost
verbatim what the venerable old Hall of the House had heard time and
time again when it came to the question of exiting Iraq and Vietnam.
This morning, however, Congressman McGovern was able to quote the
president of the United States as a supporter of what the amendment
called for - a military exit strategy from Afghanistan. The president
told a national television audience on the news program 60 Minutes that
the war in Afghanistan, indeed, needed such a strategy.

The question, of course, is why the administration and the leadership
of both sides of the political aisle are so set against an amendment
that does what the president himself has said is required in that war
torn country. Why are they investing time, energy and political capital
to defeat it? Why have Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Holbrook been
meeting and phoning Members of Congress to express their opposition?

I think it might be because Congressman McGovern is right. On the
merits, this amendment should pass. As Congressman McGovern told those
colleagues of his who happen to have been paying attention to the
debate just now, there is no military solution in Afghanistan, only a
political one. Our troops deserve to know what their military mission
is and what is being envisioned for the end of their mission. Those
with responsibility for public policy decisions in Afghanistan have got
to be willing and able to negotiate the political compromises that will
be necessary to end this war. Those who have a responsibility for our
soldiers need to be able and willing to tell them what the beginning,
middle and end of their military mission is.

It turns out that 80% of the people of Afghanistan are opposed to an
escalation of foreign troops in their country. At the very least, those
with the most at stake - the people of Afghanistan and the troops that
we continue to send there - deserve to know what Congressman McGovern
is insisting the Pentagon tell them - what our exit plan is.

The House will vote on the McGovern amendment this afternoon. The odds
of it prevailing over the objections of the Pentagon and both
Democratic and Republican leadership are long. Now
is the time for all of us to let our Representatives know that they
should support this amendment. I hope you'll call (202) 224-3121 and
urge her/him to support the McGovern/Jones/Lee/Pingree this afternoon.

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