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Congress Needs to Hear From Us Today on Afghanistan

This week Congress is set to authorize $550 billion in defense spending and, with it, an additional $130 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Congress, the military industrial complex is once again running up the score: the House Armed Services Committee wants to shower the Pentagon with even more federal dollars than George W. Bush ever requested. And the flood gates of federal dollars are once again wide open for a war without end in Afghanistan.

But there is some good news. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) is trying to squeeze a bit of common sense into the bill with an amendment that calls on the Administration to develop what President Obama told a national television audience we need: an exit strategy from Afghanistan. Unable to get this proposal included in the Supplemental Defense Appropriation bill a few weeks ago, Rep. McGovern has since introduced it as a bill that has already attracted 89 Congressional co-sponsors. Now he intends to propose it as an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee bill when it makes its way to the floor of the House tomorrow.

But Rep. McGovern needs our help.

Call your Representative today at (202) 224-3121 and:

1. urge her/him to co-sponsor Rep. McGovern's Afghanistan Exit Strategy bill H.R. 2404, and
2. vote for Rep. McGovern's amendment to the Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 2647).


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I realize how hard it may seem for Congressional Democrats to require the Obama administration to develop an exit strategy as a condition for continued funding. After all, this is our guy, right? The last thing our guy needs is a Democratic Congress second guessing, making demands, and putting conditions on the war.

But this is exactly what we and the administration need precisely because he is our guy.

Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, we want and need President Obama to succeed. The very real prospect of the United States embedded in an endless war in Afghanistan would undermine everything this administration is trying to do while imperiling the very Congressional Democrats President Obama needs to move his agenda.

Continuing our military presence in Afghanistan without an exit strategy is a bad idea for many reasons. As I've noted before, the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan unites our opponents within the country and region and makes cooperation by key regional players like Iran, Russia and China far less likely with the prospect of tens of thousands of US troops on their border. As for those with the most at stake - Afghan people - over 80% oppose an escalation of American troops in their country.

Despite the heated rhetoric you're hearing from the right-wing echo chamber, exit strategies are an important and useful part of military planning. President Obama knows this, and that's why he has gone on the record to say that we need one for the US military in Afghanistan.

The Win Without War coalition has been working closely with Congressman McGovern and other Congressional allies on this important amendment. Coalition member organizations have stepped up:, USAction/ and Peace Action all sent alerts last week to their membership asking them to call Members of Congress in support of this bill. With your help today, we can easily push the number of co-sponsors from 89 to over 100. Call your Member of Congress, ask if she/he is a co-sponsor and if she/he intends to vote for the McGovern amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on Wednesday. If not, why not? And, if so, can she/he take an active role to encourage their colleagues to support it as well.

There is not a lot of good news in the Defense Authorization bill. Let's do something about that today before the votes are cast in Congress tomorrow.

Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews

Tom Andrewsis the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law SchoolA former Member of Congress from the first Congressional District of Maine, he was a co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Tom served as National Director of Win Without War, and President of United to End Genocide. He has worked with political organizers and human rights advocates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Yemen and Ukraine, among others. He has a Washington DC-based consulting practice.

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