If One Phone Call Could End the War

If you could end the war in Afghanistan by making one phone call, would you make that call? Would you press 10 buttons to stop the wanton destruction of the lives of American soldiers and Afghan civilians?

I suspect that the majority of the literate adult population in the United States, if faced with that choice, would press 10 buttons to end the war.

Unfortunately, there isn't one phone call that will end the war. But there is a plausible chain of consequence that connects a phone call made to Congress today to ending the war in the foreseeable future.

In the next few days the House of Representatives is expected to debate and vote on a "privileged resolution" - H.Con.Res. 248 - introduced by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich that would establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

No reasonable person would take an even bet they couldn't afford to lose that this resolution will become law as introduced. But as Rocky Balboa could have told you when preparing for his first fight against Apollo Creed, that wouldn't be the right standard for measuring victory. The debate and vote on the Kucinich Resolution will be the opening round for the coming fight - if indeed it will deserve to be called a fight - over the Pentagon's $33 billion war supplemental to pay for the current military escalation. If the Kucinich Resolution is squished like a little bug, the prospects for a meaningful fight on the war supplemental will decrease. If the Kucinich Resolution makes a strong showing, Members of Congress will be encouraged to oppose the war supplemental and to try to attach real conditions to it, like a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. Congressional advocacy of a timetable for withdrawal was a key cause of the current drawdown from Iraq, and it's reasonable to expect that Congressional advocacy of a timetable for withdrawal would shorten the war in Afghanistan.

Last summer, the majority of House Democrats voted for an amendment introduced by Representative McGovern that would have required the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy from Afghanistan by the end of the year. That was a vote of no confidence from House Democrats in the Pentagon's plans for military escalation.

The political goal of the recent military assault on the militarily insignificant Afghan village of Marjah was to put House Democrats back to sleep so they would pass the war supplemental without trying to attach meaningful conditions. Forget about the last seven and half years of endless war, forget about the planned cuts in domestic job creation, education and other public services to fuel the Pentagon war machine as far as we can see. The Marjah assault didn't seem to disturb Congress very much - U.S. press reports only brifely noted the killing of a handful of U.S. soldiers and a few dozen Afghan civilians - so now the Pentagon expects Congress to fork over more money for military escalation without asking when it ends, and to go play in its domestic policy sandbox where it can decide which domestic programs it wants to cut.

Once the war supplemental is passed without conditions, then the Pentagon can launch its offensive on Kandahar, which will inevitably kill far more U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians than the assault on little Marjah, perhaps leading to some Congressional hand-wringing. But with the war supplemental passed, Congress would have given up its main leverage to change U.S. policy for another six months.

There is a way to break this cycle, and that's for Members of Congress to speak up now. But Members of Congress will only speak up if they hear from their constituents, and that's why it's important for literate American adults to call Congress today and urge their Representatives to support the Kucinich Resolution. The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.

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