WOT: War On Thinking

Congress will soon vote on whether to spend another $33 billion of our money to escalate a war in Afghanistan that makes us less safe, violates the basic rule of law, kills innocent people, puts our children in debt, empowers the oil industry, and protects the heroin industry. The only decent, legal, or humane thing a member of Congress could do would be to publicly and privately whip his/her colleagues to vote No and defeat the bill. No caucus is engaged in that effort. As far as I know, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the only one making any gestures in that direction. But a block of congress members is working to propose an amendment to the bill that will allow them to support it while (1) appearing to oppose wars, and (2) making the bill even worse. And even Kucinich supports this counterproductive campaign, as do many peace activists.


Last month we saw 65 congress members vote to completely end the war in Afghanistan.  That sent a loud message, but a larger number voting against the funding of an escalation would send a louder message.  If 64 of those members who voted to end the war fail to lobby their colleagues against funding an escalation, how seriously should anyone take their message?  And if they fail to even vote No themselves, but instead vote to fund the escalation of a war they previously voted to end, what use should anyone ever have for them, rhetorically or otherwise?  Or if, in the case of Congressman David Obey, he shepherds the bill to passage after having voted to end the war, and after having sworn he’d oppose any more war funding unless a war tax was established, what use is his rhetoric?  But if we assume good faith, then it should go without saying that someone who wants to end a war entirely does not want to fund it or to fund its escalation.  Or, if you cannot accept that logic because your television has taught you that we end wars by escalating them, then you should still accept the following: It goes without saying that those who want to end a war want that war to someday end.  How could THAT possibly not go without saying?  Easily.  Like this: the bill to fund the escalation could be amended to say that the president has to plan to someday end the war, although he would be free to change his plan.

That’s what Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill H.R. 5015 does, and he apparently plans to propose it as an amendment to the escalation funding bill that he ought to be opposing.  Here’s the language from H.R. 5015:

“(a) Plan With Timetable Required- Not later than January 1, 2011, or 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, whichever is earlier, the President shall submit to Congress a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan, including military and security-related contractors, together with a timetable for the completion of that redeployment and information regarding variables that could alter that timetable.

“(b) Status Updates- Not later than 90 days after the date of the submittal of the plan required by subsection (a), and every 90 days thereafter, the President shall submit to the Congress a report setting forth the current status of the plan for redeploying United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.”

Weak and wobbly, sure, but how does this actually make the bill worse? Here’s how:

(1) It makes this a bill to support instead of oppose, meaning that the House of Representatives then votes unanimously or nearly unanimously to fund the escalation of war, or at least the Democrats do.

Read it all here:

Ending Wars: The Flexible Waiverable Timetable Approach,

David Swanson, April 18, 2010


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    • Edger on April 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    The other guys could be worse, dontcha know!

  1. (Authorization to Use Military Force) in Iraq .. which has been used far beyond its verbiage to justify almost everything the Executive Branch has ever done since the war in Iraq started in terms of turning Congress into a Presidential lapdog.

    The President has to go to Congress for a reason, and under Bush and now Obama this has been turned into a neocon grotesquerie, whereby the President does something and then goes to Congress to pay for it after the fact.  This is not normal operating procedure, and the AUMF needs to be taken away as an excuse, even if it is a bad one.

    And this has all been justified by the neocon rhetoric of endless war with no conditions of victory, no end, and no need to further justify it, until the “war on terror” is over, which we know will NEVER BE OVER.  It’s not like it’s a “long war”, it’s that the entire definition of war has been twisted.

    WAR is not just some non-state-actor blowing up a building somewhere, requiring trillions of dollars and the resources of an entire nation to ensure it can never happen again.  WAR has an identifiable enemy and clear cut military conditions of defeat or victory, or it’s not war at all, it’s just a set of rogue actions that take place beyond the scope of legitimate U.S. law and against international law entirely.

    The problem is that the Democrats, and many self-identified progressives, have bought into this definition of what is going on now in Iraq and Afghanistan as “war”.


    There are illegal military actions and expensive and ill conceived, open ended occupations of questionable or non-existent legality.  Not war.

    • Edger on April 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Ninety-Four Percent of Kandaharis Want Peace Talks, Not War

    Gareth Porter, IPS, April 18, 2010

    WASHINGTON, Apr 18, 2010 (IPS) – An opinion survey of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province funded by the U.S. Army has revealed that 94 percent of respondents support negotiating with the Taliban over military confrontation with the insurgent group and 85 percent regard the Taliban as “our Afghan brothers”.

    The survey, conducted by a private U.S. contractor last December, covered Kandahar City and other districts in the province into which Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is planning to introduce more troops in the biggest operation of the entire war. Those districts include Arghandab, Zhari, rural Kandahar and Panjwayi.

    Afghan interviewers conducted the survey only in areas which were not under Taliban control.

    The decisive rejection of the use of foreign troops against the Taliban by the population in Kandahar casts further doubt on the fundamental premise of the Kandahar campaign, scheduled to begin in June, that the population and tribal elders in those districts would welcome a U.S.-NATO troop presence to expel the Taliban.

    That assumption was dealt a serious blow at a meeting on Apr. 4 at which tribal elders from all over Kandahar told President Hamid Karzai they were not happy with the planned military operation.

    An unclassified report on the opinion survey was published in March by Glevum Associates, a Washington-based “strategic communications” company under contract for the Human Terrain Systems programme in Afghanistan. A link to the report was first provided by the website Danger Room which reported the survey Apr. 16.

    Ninety-one percent of the respondents supported the convening of a “Loya Jirga”, or “grand assembly” of leaders as a way of ending the conflict, with 54 percent “strongly” supporting it, and 37 percent “somewhat” supporting it. That figure appears to reflect support for President Karzai’s proposal for a “peace Jirga” in which the Taliban would be invited to participate.

    The degree to which the population in the districts where McChrystal plans to send troops rejects military confrontation and believes in a peaceful negotiated settlement is suggested by a revealing vignette recounted by Time magazine’s Joe Klein in the Apr. 15 issue.


  2. war is peace…….

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