MoveOn.org became a meaningful force in American politics when it emerged as a muscular network of activists that was willing to challenge not just Republicans but Democrats when they were wrong about foreign policy.
Democratic leaders in Congress might have been willing to compromise with the Bush administration on Iraq back in 2002. But MoveOn said "no."
And MoveOn was right.
Now, more than ever, we need MoveOn to remain true to its historic mission.
We need MoveOn to be right about Afghanistan.
For that reason, I certainly hope that Justin Ruben, the new MoveOn executive director, was wrong when he told my colleague Ari Melber that he did not think the group would be letting President Obama know he is wrong to be surging more U.S. troops into Afghanistan.
Here's what Ruben said about MoveOn's agenda for the coming months:
And while MoveOn loudly led the battle against the Iraq "surge," Ruben said he not expect ending the war Afghanistan, where Obama is deploying additional troops, to make the priority list. The "overwhelming priority" is still Iraq, Ruben explains, and while his members are concerned about Afghanistan, they tend to 'differ on what ought to be done about it.'
Unless the MoveOn membership has lost touch with its values and its former allies, I am going to bet that they are a lot more concerned about Afghanistan than Ruben thinks.
Here's what Peace Action says:
Yesterday, President Obama announced his decision to send 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, on the grounds that ‘the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention'. Peace Action strongly opposes Obama's recent announcement and urges people to immediately call on Obama to choose diplomacy, not escalation.
More troops won't solve our problems in Afghanistan...
We have seen the disastrous consequences of heading into war without a plan in Iraq. We are still mourning American and Iraqi lives lost, and struggling to rehabilitate our economy while spending billions of dollars on war.
Peace Action calls for the ‘rapid withdrawal' of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and a new commitment to a negotiated diplomatic solution involving all regional players.
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The Obama Administration should:
-- De-escalate troop levels in Afghanistan and to reject the idea that there is a military solution to the region's problems;
-- Immediately stop military activities that indiscriminately impact civilians such as air and drone strikes;
-- Rapidly withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan;
-- Commit to negotiated diplomatic talks involving all major regional players, including major international peace-keeping bodies;
-- Address the real needs of Afghans, which include health-care, clean water, education, and security.
Here's what the new www.stateupcongress.org network -- which has been organized by the group Win Without War and is backed by TrueMajority.org, the Council for a Livable World, Working Assets, Women's Action for New Directions, Faithful America, 2020 Vision, the American Friends Service Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Association and NETWORK (the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby) -- says:
President Obama has announced a plan to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer. In the absence of a clear mission or exit plan, this troop escalation is more likely to fuel anti-American sentiment and the Taliban-led insurgency than provide any meaningful improvement in security.
Here's the Afghanistan assessment of California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the driving force behind the Congressional Out of Iraq Caucus:
We don't want to substitute Afghanistan for Iraq.
Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with the steadiest track record of challenging presidents of both parties when they make wrong moves on the international stage, adds:
After years of a failed foreign policy which distracted us from our top national security priority of defeating al Qaeda and its affiliates, I am encouraged by President Obama's focus on Afghanistan where the 9/11 attacks originated. But we need to make sure we have a strategy in place for Afghanistan that will actually work before we commit thousands more U.S. troops. A military escalation without a strategy to address the complex problems facing Afghanistan and the region could alienate the Afghan people and make it much more difficult to achieve our top national security goal of defeating al Qaeda.
Is MoveOn really out of synch with Peace Action, Win Without War and other major anti-war and religious groups and congressional allies of the peace movement?
Let's hope not.