Lindsey Graham

Keep Your Promise: A Left-Right Coalition to Help Veterans and Cut the Debt

 There is wide political agreement that we need to do more to support our veterans and their families. A recent spectacular demonstration was the 326-90 vote in the House and 95-3 vote in the Senate to repeal the military pension cuts to veterans and active service members that were in the Ryan-Murray budget deal. A key question in the current federal budget environment is how we are going to pay for increased veterans' benefits, given broad Republican resistance to raising revenue or increasing the deficit.

An obvious answer is this: Cut unnecessary Pentagon spending and split the savings between helping veterans and reducing government debt. This should appeal to Democrats and Republicans who want to help veterans and to Democrats and Republicans who are willing to cut unnecessary Pentagon spending to reduce government debt. It should also appeal to organizations representing veterans.

Some people are under the impression that cutting unnecessary Pentagon spending is a non-starter with all Republicans, or almost all of them. But in the recent past, there has been a substantial group of Republicans in the House who were willing to vote to cut the Pentagon budget.

Keep America at Peace: Keep the Pentagon Sequester

Folks who think that (at the very least) we should be allowed to experience a few years of peace before launching the next military adventure are on the cusp of a major victory in Washington. All we have to do to win this historic victory is maintain the "sequester" cuts to the Pentagon budget that are already planned in existing law. And if we win the next round -- if we avoid any kind of "grand bargain" one more time -- we will likely win forever, because the Pentagon cuts will be an accomplished fact, and when everyone sees that the Earth is still spinning on its axis, we'll all realize that cutting the Pentagon budget is no big deal. The Pentagon will be smaller, the sun will come up in the morning, and life will go on.

Call Your Senators This Week And Tell Them: Don't Iraq Iran!

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, it seems that a majority of the Senate hasn't learned its lesson: S. Res. 65, AIPAC/Lindsey Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill, now has 65 co-sponsors. [1] Even Senators who opposed the Iraq war, such as Sens. Boxer and Durbin, have signed on to the bill.

But allies are popping up in unexpected places. The New York Times recently came out in support of negotiations—and slammed S. Res. 65. [2]

We've defeated AIPAC before—and with enough pressure, we can do it again. Over 20,000 Just Foreign Policy members have emailed their Senators on S. Res. 65. But AIPAC supporters have been working hard as well. That's why we need to scale up our opposition.

This week, Just Foreign Policy is joining with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the National Iranian American Council, and Peace Action West for a national call-in to the Senate opposing Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill. Could you follow up your email with a phone call to your Senator? Here's what you do:

  1. Check to see if your Senator has co-sponsored the bill here:
    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/sres65-call-in
  2. Call the Capital Switchboard using this toll-free number provided by FCNL: 1-855-68-NO WAR (1-855-686-6927)
  3. Ask to be connected to your Senator's office.
  4. When you are connected to your Senator's office:
    1. If your Senator hasn't co-sponsored the bill, thank them for staying off, and urge them to resist pressure to sign the bill, noting that the bill
      1. tries to "pre-approve" US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran; and
      2. tries to move up the "red line" for war

Senator Rand Paul Calls the Question on War with Iran

Before we have a war with Iran, shouldn't the Senate and the House have at least one debate and vote on it? Isn't that what the Constitution demands? Isn't that what is demanded by the War Powers Resolution (which, despite its name, is binding law)?

If you agree to the principle that Congress should debate and vote on a war with Iran before any such war takes place (which also happens to be the Constitution and the law), when do you think a good time would be for the Senate and the House to start taking up the question? Should we wait until after there is further escalation? Should we wait until after some real or invented Persian Gulf of Tonkin incident, when Members of Congress can be steamrolled by cable news and right-wing talk radio? Or should we start having the debate now, when rational argument still has a chance, so that Members of Congress will be forced to choose sides between American generals, who oppose war with Iran, and the Israeli Prime Minister, who wants war with Iran?

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks we should have the debate right now.

On Tuesday, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to oppose unanimous consent of a new Iran sanctions bill so he could introduce an amendment that would ensure that nothing in the act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran or Syria, and affirm that any use of military force must be authorized by Congress.

Bacevich: Vietnam vs. Munich, and Creating an "Iraq/Afghanistan Syndrome"

Campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008, Senator Barack Obama said: "I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place."

But as Andrew Bacevich notes in his new book, "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," as President, Barack Obama has done the opposite: he has promoted and acted on behalf of the mindset that leads to war.

Most prominently, President Obama has so far missed every major exit ramp for starting to get out of Afghanistan, instead escalating militarily and "doubling down" on "counterinsurgency" in Afghanistan - Vietnam 2.0 - even as the war has become increasingly unpopular in the United States - as it has been in Afghanistan and in the rest of the world. The majority of Americans, three-quarters of Democrats, and three-fifths of House Democrats want President Obama to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. But the White House so far refuses to even publicly discuss such a move, even as it claims to support "Afghan-led reconciliation" with leaders of the Afghan Taliban, which, if real, almost certainly would require a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, a key demand of Afghan insurgents.

This is all the more striking as the Administration celebrates the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq, because the centerpiece of the present relationship between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government is an agreement stipulating the total withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country by the end of 2011. That which is now the centerpiece of U.S. relations with Iraq is still mostly taboo for discussion among the "national security elite" regarding Afghanistan: a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces.