Peace groups and members of Congress are crafting creative ideas to counter a Commander-in-Chief who misled us into a catastrophic conflict and now proposes to escalate the war in Iraq.
As the President prepares to escalate (aka “surge”) the war in Iraq, the new Democratic Congress and peace activists across the nation are searching for the most effective ways to respond to the continuing Madness of King George. Here is a look at what some legislators, former and current military personnel, and peace groups are doing to end a war that has stretched the military to the breaking point, and sacrificed more than three thousand American men and women to what columnist Paul Krugman calls “the quagmire of the vanities.”
•Representative John Murtha has already taken a strong stand in announcing that he will oppose funding for any escalation as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Murtha told Arianna Huffington that “he wants to ‘fence the funding,’ denying the president the resources to escalate the war, instead using the money to take care of the soldiers as we bring them home from Iraq….”
Murtha’s stance is critical since the rightwing will wrongly spin (as they have post-Vietnam) that opposition to funding a war is tantamount to not supporting the troops. How best to counter the rightwing political blame game will require hard work and courage in the coming weeks and months.
•In addition to Murtha’s stance, Representatives such as James McGovern and Dennis Kucinich–now a Presidential candidate–are also focused on using the power of the purse to end this debacle. Kucinich called for the withholding of funds for future troop deployments after the people spoke against the war so clearly on Election Day, and McGovern introduced the End the War in Iraq Act last session “to prohibit the use of funds to deploy United States Armed Forces to Iraq.” While many–especially the still delusional neocons–will try to paint this legislation as anti-military, it isn’t. It calls for using those funds “for the safe and orderly withdrawal of the Armed Forces from Iraq.”
Although Rep. McGovern’s bill only had 19 co-sponsors (including Rep. Kucinich) at the end of Congress’ last session, more Democrats may be moved to take a stand when the next supplemental funding bill comes up as early as February – especially as they hear from their constituents and peace activists.
•In the Senate, according to the New York Times, Senator Edward Kennedy will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would require the President to obtain new authorization from Congress prior to sending any more troops to Iraq. Kennedy urged a quick vote, saying, “The importance of this legislation is that it will apply now before we could get the escalation.” He cited Congressional intervention in both Vietnam and Lebanon in calling for his colleagues to take action to stop any escalation in Iraq. One clear ally of Sen. Kennedy’s is Sen. Russ Feingold – who, along with Sen. John Kerry, introduced legislation during the last session of Congress for a withdrawal to be completed by July of this year. Feingold told The Times: “My concern now is that too many Democrats are going to want to play it safe on this issue and not take the strong stand that American people demand.”