Tuesday, July 6, 2010

War funding is no longer automatic (Tom Hayden in The Nation)

Reps. Barbara Lee, Jerrold Nadler, Maxine Waters and John Conyers discussed 'Opposition to War Funding' at a Capitol Hill press conference, 07/01/10. Getty Images

Some indication the White House is listening?

House Dems Stand Firm on Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable
By Tom Hayden

One hundred sixty-two House members, including a large majority of Democrats, sent a significant antiwar message to President Obama (July 1st) forcing the White House to depend for Afghanistan war support on the Republicans who want to unseat the Democrats and Obama himself in upcoming elections.

Despite claims by punditry that the antiwar movement has disappeared, stalwart Representative Barbara Lee gained 100 votes for her amendment rejecting $33 billion for 30,000 new troops already being sent to Afghanistan. Seven of her votes were Republicans. The measure would have redirected the $33 billion to expenses incurred in redeploying the troops out of Afghanistan.

More significant numerically, there were 162 votes cast for Representative Jim McGovern’s amendment, co-authored by representatives David Obey and Walter Jones, which articulated a game plan for ending the war. Only a year ago, the same measure was introduced as a general and non-binding resolution. This time the proposal required, as a condition of funding, an exit proposal including a withdrawal timetable, by next spring, before the president’s announced plan to "begin" withdrawals in July. Further, in response to rising pressure to delay withdrawals, the McGovern proposal would require another Congressional vote if the administration succumbed to pressure from Republicans and the military to delay the beginning departure date.

Among Democrats, the vote for McGovern was 153-98, with nine Republican supporters. Significantly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who this week predicted a strong Democratic push for a “substantial drawdown” by next year, voted with McGovern.

Beltway-based peace groups were surprised by the outcome. "All in all, we did better than I expected," blogged Paul Kawika-Martin of Peace Action as the televised vote rolled across the CSPAN screen.

Though the war will escalate as a result of the final vote, the opponents sent a powerful message to the president and newly confirmed Gen. David Petraeus that antiwar pressure will only increase in the period ahead, adding important pressure for the July 2011 deadline to be maintained and clarified by a timeline for completion, as originally proposed by Senator Russ Feingold.

The message is sure to reinforce the belief in the Karzai administration, the Pakistan government and among NATO allies that time is running out, thus giving an impetus for accelerating talks with the Taliban.

The escalating offensive in southern Afghanistan will continue apace, with uncertain results.

The Taliban may misread the message from Congress, however, and overplay their hand. Their strength lies in southern Pashtun communities in southern Afghanistan and Pakistan, suggesting that their future lies in a negotiated power-sharing arrangement with the northern tribes and warlords they fought in the civil war nearly a decade ago. The McGovern proposal foreshadows a scenario of peace diplomacy that stabilizes a deeply divided country.


Tom Hayden Bio (See The Nation Magazine)

Senator Tom Hayden, the Nation Institute's Carey McWilliams Fellow, has played an active role in American politics and history for over three decades, beginning with the student, civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s.

"Tom Hayden changed America," wrote Nicholas Lemann, national correspondent for The Atlantic, of Hayden's role in the 1960s. Richard Goodwin, former speechwriter for John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, said that Hayden, "without even knowing it, inspired the Great Society."

Hayden was elected to the California State Legislature in 1982, where he served for ten years in the Assembly before being elected to the State Senate in 1992, where he served eight years.

Hayden has been described as "the conscience of the Senate" by columnist Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee, and as "the liberal rebel" by George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times. "He has carved out a key watchdog role," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

He is author of over 175 measures ranging from reform of money in politics, worker safety, school decentralization, small business tax relief, domestic violence, lessening gang violence in the inner city, stopping student fee increases at universities, protecting endangered species like salmon, overhauling three strikes, you're out laws, and a measure signed into law that will assist Holocaust survivors in receiving recognition and compensation for having been exploited as slave labor during the Nazi era.

Hayden is the author of eleven books, including his autobiography, Reunion; a book on the spirituality and the environment, Lost Gospel of the Earth; a collection of essays on the aftermath of the Irish potato famine, Irish Hunger (Roberts Rhinehart) and a book on his Irish background, Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America (Verso); Radical Nomad, a biography of C. Wright Mills (Paradigm Publishers); and, most recently, Ending the War in Iraq (2007). A collection of his work, Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader was published this year .

1 comment:

  1. From Alan Grayson Representative in Florida, USA ... Plz support him

    We're making progress toward peace.

    Late last week, Congressional leaders refused to offer the House an up-or-down vote on $33 billion more for war. Why? Because they knew that they wouldn't get it.

    So instead, they engaged in arcane procedural maneuvering, resorting to a "self-executing rule" festooned with impenetrable amendments. When they have to go that low, you know something weird is happening.

    Or something beautiful. And something beautiful is happening - despite the procedural legerdemain, 168 members of Congress voted in favor of an amendment to require "a plan by April 4, 2011 on the safe orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.s. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment."

    In other words, there are now 168 votes for peace. More than ever before.

    50 more votes, and we're done.

    So keep watching your inbox, and answer the call. You might have to send an e-mail, sign a petition, or make a telephone call. Whatever it might be, make your voice heard, and this war will end.

    We can do it.


    Alan Grayson

    P.S. Here is a Roll Call of Honor, the ten Members of Congress who voted against the "self-executing rule," and in favor of all three amendments to end the war:


    And me.