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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 6 May 2011 - 5:20pm
Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the floodgates opened in Washington this week for reconsideration of U.S. plans to continue the open-ended war in Afghanistan.
Now Representatives Jim McGovern and Walter Jones have introduced the "Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act," bipartisan legislation that would require the President present to Congress a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a clear end date for the war. It would require the President to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the progress of troop withdrawal, as well as the human and financial costs of continuing the war. The President would also have to report how much money U.S. taxpayers would save if the war were brought to an end in six months, instead of five, ten, or twenty years.
Other Members of Congress have spoken out this week against indefinite continuation of the war, including Senators Dick Durbin , Richard Lugar, and Robert Menendez; (jointly) Representatives Lee, Ellison, Grijalva, Woolsey, and Waters; Representative Barney Frank; and Representative Cliff Stearns.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 2 May 2011 - 11:52am
We got our man. Wave the flag, kiss a nurse, and start packing the equipment. It's time to plan to bring all our boys and girls home from Afghanistan. When the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks rolls around, let the world see that we are on a clear path to bringing home our troops from Afghanistan and handing back sovereignty to the Afghan people.
With more Sherlock Holmes than Rambo, and judging from press accounts, not much role for the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence tracked Osama bin Laden to a safe house in a well-appointed suburb of Pakistan's capital and a small U.S. force raided the compound. Press reports say Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight in the compound and that his body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Islamic tradition that expects a burial within 24 hours.
Success typically has many authors, and I don't doubt the ability of some to argue that our occupation of Afghanistan has contributed to this result. Perhaps it will turn out that some prisoner captured in Afghanistan by U.S. forces contributed a key piece of information that helped investigators find bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
And of course it will be argued, correctly, that Osama bin Laden's death is not necessarily the end of al Qaeda nor of groups inspired by al Qaeda; indeed, that there will be an incentive now for al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired groups to retaliate and to prove that they can still carry out actions against the United States.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 21 April 2011 - 12:50pm
If you've ever spent quality time trying to move an agenda through Congress, you know that moving an agenda isn't just about lobbying individual Members. You need a "champion" for your issue. The champion introduces your bill. The champion recruits other offices to sign up. The champion introduces an amendment that carries the same idea as the bill and lobbies other Members to vote for it. The champion circulates letters to other offices. The champion raises the profile of your issue in the media.
When Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold lost his bid for re-election, advocates working to end the war in Afghanistan lost their champion in the Senate. It was Feingold's office that introduced the bill, introduced the amendment, circulated the letter, led the lobbying of other offices, led the charge in the media.
Now California Senator Barbara Boxer has re-introduced Feingold's bill requiring the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan - a timetable with an end date. So far, Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown have signed on as co-sponsors of Senator Boxer's bill.
The re-introduction of this bill is extremely timely and important, for two reasons.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 December 2010 - 2:07pm
Since E.D. Hirsch failed in his noble jihad to enforce Cultural Literacy, I can't assume readers are familiar with the scene in Annie Hall in which Woody Allen stops a movie line bloviator from pontificating about Marshall McLuhan by producing the actual Marshall McLuhan from behind a movie poster to tell the pontificator off. So here is a clip:
Allen concludes the scene by saying to the camera, "Boy, if life were only like this."
But the funny thing is, sometimes life is just like that, and in the past week we have been presented with a spectacular, world-historical example.
A standard bloviator talking point in the last few weeks against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange has been: the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables is nothing like the Pentagon Papers case which exposed the US government's fundamental lying to the public about the Vietnam War, and Julian Assange and alleged leaker Bradley Manning are nothing like Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. This Manichean division between "good" and "bad" leakers has been recited with great earnestness: "Four legs good, two legs baaaad!"
A striking example was noted by Sam Husseini on December 5 , citing an appearance by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin on CBS' "Face the Nation":