If there were ever a time when the peace movement should be able to
have an impact on U.S. foreign policy, that time should be now. If
there were ever a time for extraordinary effort to achieve such an
impact, that time is now.
The war in Afghanistan is in its ninth year. McChrystal's proposal
could continue it for another ten years, at a likely cost of a
trillion dollars, and many more lives of U.S. soldiers and Afghan
civilians. The contradiction between domestic needs and endless war
was never more apparent. Congress fights over whether we can "afford"
to provide every American with quality health care, but every health
care reform proposal on the table will likely cost less than
McChrystal's endless war. A recent
CNN poll says 6 in 10 Americans oppose sending more
Democratic leaders in Congress are deeply skeptical: as far back as
June, Rep. Murtha and Rep. Obey voted for Rep. McGovern's amendment
demanding an exit strategy, and that was before the Afghan election
fiasco, when international forces failed at their key objective of
providing security, and before McChrystal demanded a 60% increase in
U.S. forces, on top of the 50% increase approved earlier this year. Our
troops are "exhausted," Murtha says.
Top Administration officials share the skepticism. Vice-President Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and Afghan scholar Barnett Rubin, an advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke, have all been arguing against a troop increase: the political people on the grounds that the American people and Congress won't support it; Biden on the grounds that it would be a diversion from Pakistan; Rubin on the grounds that it would be counterproductive to reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Elite opinion is closely divided. This is a jump ball. It could go either way. And a decision by Nobel Laureate Obama to send 40,000 more U.S. troops is likely to severely constrain U.S. policy, abroad and at home, for many years.
Such a time calls for extraordinary efforts to mobilize public opinion to move policy.
National peace advocacy organizations, including Peace Action, Just Foreign Policy, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and Voters for Peace, are launching such an extraordinary effort. At the joint website noescalation.org, we're posting the phone numbers of every Congressional office, and what is known so far about where they stand on the proposal to send 40,000 more U.S. troops. We're asking Americans to call Congressional offices and search the media for information on where each Member of Congress stands. And we're asking for that information to be reported back to the website noescalation.org.
The more Members of Congress take a clear stand against military escalation, the more likely President Obama is to reject McChrystal's request. Some Members of Congress are saying, "we're waiting to see what the President decides." But that nonsense is an obvious dodge. The time to affect the President's decision is obviously before he makes it, not afterwards. Of course some Members of Congress are going to avoid taking a position if they can. Our job is to smoke them out.
Call now. The Norwegians are counting on you.