Sep 03, 2009
In an op-ed
Tuesday in the Washington Post, prominent conservative
columnist George Will called for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from
Might George Will's op-ed encourage more Republicans in Congress to
speak up in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops - or in opposition to the
increase that is now being planned?
When we get our troops out of Afghanistan will depend to a significant
degree on what Republican Members of Congress are willing to say and
do. Indeed, Republican support will be "vital" for continuing the war
and occupation of Afghanistan, the New York Times points out
noting that Obama's reliance on Republican votes for the war means
Republicans could pull the plug at any time.
This summer, the House of Representatives took what was in effect a
"no confidence" vote on Afghanistan policy: it voted down, 138-278,
Representative Jim McGovern's amendment requiring the Pentagon to
present Congress with an exit strategy.
The majority of House Democrats supported McGovern's amendment. Among
Democrats, the vote was 131-114, or 57% to 43%. But Republicans were
overwhelmingly opposed. Only seven Republicans voted yes; 164
Republicans voted no; in percentage terms, 4% yes and 96% no.
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth - as there should
be - about Democrats not representing their constituents on the war.
But the story on the Republican side is worse, and changing U.S.
policy will require turning that around as well.
The Washington Postreported
on August 20 that "A majority of Americans now see the war in
Afghanistan as not worth fighting, and just a quarter say more U.S.
troops should be sent to the country. " Seven in 10 Democrats said the
war was not worth fighting, while seven in 10 Republicans said that it
These numbers allow us to make a crude comparison between Democratic
and Republican voters and Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
Suppose that Democrats and Republicans in Congress had voted on the
McGovern amendment according to the numbers in the Washington
Post poll: seventy percent of Democrats had voted in favor, and
seventy percent of Republicans had voted against. Then the McGovern
Amendment would have passed, 223-193, or 54%-46%, with 172 Democratic
votes and 51 Republican votes. Forty more Democrats would have voted
yes, but 44 more Republicans would also have voted yes.
Or, to put it another way: suppose the number of Republicans voting
against the war is fixed. How many Democrats have to switch in order
for the McGovern amendment to pass? Seventy Democrats would have to
change from no to yes; 82% of the Democrats in the House would have to
vote no on the war. That is, if the number of Republican votes were
fixed, then passing something like the McGovern amendment would
require that House Democrats be significantly more opposed to the war
than Democrats are in general.
That seems like a pretty tall order. So, we need some more Republicans
to vote against the war.
Are you represented by a Republican in Congress, in the House or the
Senate? Ordinarily you might not consider that a gift, but today it is
a blessing, because you now have an opportunity to take an action to
end the war tailored for Republicans: send George
Will's op-ed to your Republican representative. If no Republicans
represent you, send it
anyway - whether we like it or not, Democrats in Congress are
influenced by Republican opinion.
And send George Will's piece to your Republican friends. There's no
law of the universe that says Republicans have to support war and
occupation without end in Afghanistan. Many Republicans opposed the
U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia in the Clinton Adminstration. Come out,
come out, anti-war Republicans. We need you now.
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