Take action: money for diplomacy and aid, not war
President Obama has asked Congress for $83.4 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In announcing his new plan for Afghanistan, President Obama called for a “dramatic increase” in the civilian effort, and has acknowledged that military force alone cannot stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan. So why does the supplemental include ten times as much money for military as civilian tools like aid?
Every time funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has come before Congress, we have urged representatives and senators to oppose it unless it is going to be used for a fundamentally different approach. That hasn’t changed. If President Obama is going to pursue a new strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress needs to fund a new strategy. Write your representative and senators and urge them to vote no on funding unless they can significantly improve the bill.
While President Obama has made many positive changes to our approach in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are still a number of troubling things that this supplemental funding request supports:
- Keeping a counterproductive residual force of up to 50,000 US troops in Iraq for another 3 years
- Sending an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan without benchmarks, a timeline, or an exit strategy
- $78 billion for continuing a failed military strategy, including F-22 fighter planes, and air strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that cause poverty, refugee problems, and civilian casualties
Since 2001, 94% of $864 billion appropriated in support of the so-called “War on Terror” has gone to the Pentagon, while only 5% has gone to the State Department and USAID. This supplemental request doesn’t look very different. If we are going to shift these priorities, we need to start now. We have heard that some members of Congress are thinking of offering amendments to improve the bill, but we need to raise our voices to make sure that happens.
In the midst of an economic crisis, we need to make sure our tax dollars are invested in proven strategies to make us safer, not the continuation of a failed strategy. The only way President Obama can make these changes is if he feels pressure from the Congress and the public, which is why your voice is so crucial. Congress will try to move this through quickly. Take action today.