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Rethink Afghanistan: Gone ’til November?

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Yesterday we talked about HR 5015, the McGovern bill requiring an exit strategy from Afghanistan. Remember, an exit strategy is easy to do because our strategy is basically a flaming pile of junk anyway, so why not wrap it up? And it’s free because it costs nothing. A phone call, what is that? Five minutes? Four? You’re just asking your rep to co-sponsor a bill (they give them numbers like 5015 to make it easy). And it’s not like you have to explain quantum mechanics, the war in Afghanistan is so obviously awful, you’re pretty much talking in short hand (they’re familiar with the issue). Just requiring a timeline seems like the simplest, least offensive policy ever, right? Actually, David Swanson disagrees:

It’s not that we need 20 more cosponsors of the nonbinding timetable for Afghanistan. The lesson [of Iraq] is that we must tell members of the House of Representatives that they can vote against war funding or we will vote against them.

No way. Now I realize this is probably frustration, I’m as pissed off as anyone about the Iraq extension, but it’s no reason to drop everything and go all extremist. Cutting off funding is important, no doubt there, but there are still lots of other opportunities to accomplish something in Afghanistan besides furiously threatening your member of congress over one issue, the funding. And there’s certainly a lot more to do than just that one, single act of voting. This timeline is not only easy to support, but it’s also a very important step toward ending the war. Missing this opportunity would just be foolish. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Midterms: Jobs vs. Wars in California

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Do you know someone in California? Have they seen this?

California’s economy is in a tailspin. One in 5 Californians is out of work. Over three quarters of a million have lost their homes. Desperately needed social services have been cut to the bone. Yet residents of our state continue to pay for a senseless war in Afghanistan that’s not making us safer – a war that has cost California taxpayers nearly $38 billion already.

OK, hold on a minute. $38 billion for war? Just from California? Take a look at California’s financial situation:

Jaws dropped from coast to coast at the size of [California's] $26.3 billion shortfall, a quarter of the general fund. Even more astounding was state leaders’ difficulty in reaching a budget deal—not just this year, but year after year. With its repeated use of borrowing and IOUs, the Golden State has become the poster child for fiscal irresponsibility.

That’s right, their apocalyptic budget crisis is actually much less than they’re spending on the war in Afghanistan. $26 billion for the budget vs $38 billion for war. And what do they actually get for that money? It’s not like it’s way better to live in California thanks to the war. In fact, it’s actually getting much, much worse. Read the rest of this entry →

Feeling The Heat From Afghanistan Part 2: Lame Duck Incumbents

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Part 1 – 2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

Last week we talked about politicians on both sides of the aisle suffering for their support of the war. In particular we looked at Democratic staple Jane Harman’s bloody primary battle with a challenger whose position on the war is merely moderate and mainstream. You wouldn’t normally expect a convention fight over a boring centrist compromise like a withdrawal time line and transition to a peace mission, but this is the political climate we’re dealing with right now. Constituents across the country are standing up and demanding to be heard, exactly as our political system is intended to function, and any representative who thinks they can ignore it is in for a terrible year. As I said in part 1, it’s no longer safe to support the war in Afghanistan.

But what about the dreaded lame duck incumbents who won’t be running again, the members of congress who aren’t really under any obligation to listen to their constituents? After all, they don’t have need any more re-election funds, campaign volunteers, none of that. With important votes like the supplemental budget still facing this congress, are these lame ducks able to run out the clock and support the war? Nope. Even the lame ducks are being brutalized by the war in Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Stop the presses, we might have some good news on the war in Afghanistan. Savor it:

Washington, D.C. – In a letter sent to President Barack Obama today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) urged him to set a flexible timetable for removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counterterrorism strategy for the region.  The bipartisan group of legislators suggested that “rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda’s global network."

What, only a letter urging something? It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a positive sign that both parties are realizing the futility of Afghanistan. And they’re not turning against the war on their own, they’re listening to the American people. At a time when the CIA is writing memos on the best way to subvert democracies, it’s a good sign that at least our democracy is still working.

Last month, the anti-war movement got its 3 hour debate on H.Con.Res 248, and while the resolution itself ultimately failed, it did serve as a shot across the bow of the House leadership. While some may claim the movement is irrelevant, it proved we could still get even our wildest fantasies, like an immediate and complete withdrawal, all the way to the House floor for debate. Have the Repeal Obamacare folks done anything close to that? Nope, but it helps us keep this in perspective when we talk about which movements actually have real momentum and power, and which ones are just shameless partisan pandering. The movement to end the US conflict in Afghanistan does have momentum, and as we’ll see, it’s affecting both parties. Read the rest of this entry →