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Amid Shutdown, Divided Government Agrees on One Thing: War

Bipartisan agreement exempts military operations; Critics outraged that failed wars not up for debate

As the U.S. government shutdown continues, both political parties agree that, while programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will be halted, military operations and drone attacks overseas should continue unabated.

This is prompting outrage from critics who wonder when the nation will have a real conversation about the failure—and the expense—of U.S. foreign policy.

"It is emblematic of the problem that we face that Republicans and Democrats are having a face-off about government shutdown, but they both agree to exempt the military," Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy told Common Dreams. "There is not any discussion about that. Everyone agrees that the partial government shutdown exempts the military, exempts war, and now we are going to fight about everything else."

On Tuesday, just one minute into the federal shutdown, Obama released a statement to the U.S. military in which he vowed to continue funding for their ongoing operations. “Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status. The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency," he declared. "Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue.”

Additionally, the U.S. military will continue its covert drone attacks the shutdown, with The New York Times reporting "there is no doubt that drones operated by the Air Force, at least, will continue to fly"

The president's statement followed bipartisan agreement, before the partial federal shutdown, that the military should be exempted, including a passage of a bill in the House and Senate stipulating military pay would not be impacted.

For many, the failures of U.S. democracy that led to federal closure underscore the irony of launching wars to bring democracy to other countries.

"The U.S. government is deservingly mocked for struggling to maintain democracy in its own country, but what's more disturbing is that they are still engaged in foreign military operations around the globe," Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice, told Common Dreams. "The fate of other nations and their citizens should not be determined by this failed bureaucracy."

"The government has lost the faith of the people when they ignore human needs at home yet continue to spend our money on military actions abroad," Maggie Martin of Iraq Veterans Against the War told Common Dreams.

"That they are calling Afghanistan an essential operation while they are cutting and eliminating vital services in areas domestically is a matter of concern," Stephen Zunes, leading US Middle East Policy scholar, told Common Dreams. "The war in Afghanistan is not an essential service."


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