(How to contact Rep. Kucinich about this below.)
The anti-war movement is making enormous progress. We are now sitting in their offices regularly, either in the districts or in Washington. We are camping out in DC, and generally smoking out their true positions on the war and highlighting it to constituents. The task of the anti-war movement now is to counter three favored tactics for prolonging the war, in a high-profile manner. One of these tactics is the refrain: "I opposed the surge but now that the troops are there, we have to support them. We can't let them run out of bullets."
This betrays either a foolish misunderstanding of the manner in which military operations are executed, or is an outright insult to the public's intelligence. It was used by a blustering Rep. David Obey on Marine mom Tina Richards in a Capitol Hill encounter now famous on Youtube. Operations are planned in advance to include all logistical supplies and equipment, and a general who approves a battle plan...
which does not commit sufficient materiel is likely to find himself before a court martial. Battle plans are "front-loaded." They are not supplied after the fact. We don't send troops into battle and then cross our fingers that Congress will come through with the money for enough bullets.
In order to clarify what Congress already knows, that troop withdrawal advocated by peace activists, by definition, refers to orderly withdrawal, we can ask members to sponsor and pass, in lieu of the president's expected request for further war funding, the following "Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act." This way we avoid the well-honed and disingenuous implication that peace activists do not support the troops.
The Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act includes a component for the rapid stabilization of Afghanistan, by addressing the economic roots of the renewed insurgency. Until 2005 Afghanistan was relatively peaceful, as the vast majority of Afghans waited in extreme hunger, poverty, and deprivation for jobs designed to rebuild their country. Then they got tired of waiting.
Another favorite response used by pro-war Democrats in the war coalition is "I want to support the president, and give him a chance." Our response to this is easy: If you want to support the president, don't let him become another LBJ. LBJ was a president who was broken by the Vietnam War. His ambitious and promising War on Poverty, which even many conservatives at the time considered well thought-out, was dashed upon the rock of Vietnam. Johnson, who of all presidents had the enormous political and persuasive talents to push the program through, is now not remembered for his good works in life, but for the holocaust he caused in Vietnam. It is a tragedy of lost promise and wasted talents of epic proportions, and the parallel with President Obama could not be clearer.
Of course, if you want to cut to the chase you might say simply, congressman, we elect you to represent us, your district, not to "support the president." Let's remember who pays your salary.
The third favorite tactic in Congress for prolonging the war is the lipstick on the pig gambit. Congress attaches open-ended war spending bill (the pig) to something admirable, like continuing unemployment benefits (the lipstick.) Besides being so laughably transparent it barely merits a response beyond ridicule, is also easily remedied. Split the bill into two bills. We must tutor Congress: When you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig. We need a clever campaign for this one. Let's dump old lipstick containers and a toy pig on their desks with a note that says (take a picture!) "Don't put lipstick on the war-bill pig. A 'yes' vote is a vote for the pig, not the lipstick."
Keep meeting with them and their staffers in their district or DC offices and corner them on camcorder and for the record. They owe their constituents a clear and reasoned position on the wars, not claptrap like "we can't let them run out of armored vests," as Obey actually said to Tina Richards. Ask the hard questions, then report. Report to sites like PDAmerica.org and AfterDowningStreet.org who are keeping track of congress members' positions. Don't forget to send a press release to your local newpapers, and call the editor to ask if he/she has any questions. Remember, the politician's best friend is their ability to hide, to slick-up and muddy an issue.
Let's take hold of the debate and control it, rather than them control us with smoke-blowing. When they see they aren't fooling anyone anymore, and people are holding them responsible for those coffins coming into Dover and the fact that there is no money for healthcare or jobs, it becomes a different ballgame. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, one of the good guys, is mounting a heroic campaign to bring home troops from Afghanistan by December 31, 2010. However, the language of his resolution is very simple, and only mandates that troops be withdrawn by this date. Suggestion: If the resolution fails as a result of the expected attack that "we can't give the enemy a timeline for when we will abandon Afghanistan, all he'll do is wait," then one possible strategy is to follow up immediately with "The Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act." This will show how we are not abandoning Afghanistan, still insisting on withdrawal, and supporting the troops all at the same time.
The Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act
Whereas, We support the troops at all times, and demand an end to the war in Afghanistan;
Whereas, The United States has a national interest in a stable and secure Afghanistan;
Whereas, No national security interest can be secured by the conduct of an open-ended, drawn-out war,
Whereas, Our commanders have stated that jobs for fighting-age Afghan males, as an alternative to joining the insurgency, are a vital part of bringing stability to Afghanistan;
Whereas, H.E. Ehsan Zia, former Minister of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development for Afghanistan, a vital and effective ministry, has called to the attention of Congress a critical shortfall in funding for the highly acclaimed National Solidarity Program, which works with over 22,000 village councils in administering effective job development in Afghanistan, guided and owned by Afghans, relating to basic infrastructure,
Whereas, The American people can no longer sustain the enormous cost of a war which is draining our treasury and costing the lives of America's finest, our troops,
And Whereas, We must use these funds now spent on the wars for our national priorities, including health care, jobs, and deficit reduction, not foreign adventures,
We hereby enact this Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act, which appropriates $14 billion for the orderly withdrawal of US troops, to be fully-supplied as the withdrawal proceeds. $5 billion of this amount shall be appropriated for stabilization through a robust job-creation plan administered by the National Solidarity Program (NSP), paying a wage of between $7 to $10 per day. Troops shall begin to be withdrawn at the rate of one battalion per week beginning in June of 2010, as job creation proceeds under NSP administration. United States troops will complete their withdrawal by December 31, 2010."
Please tell Rep. Dennis Kucinich that you will support The Orderly Withdrawal and Stabilization for Afghanistan Act if he introduces it, or if another colleague does so. His Chief of Staff can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org (Jaron Bourke). Also email this post to your own congressperson and 2 senators here. Hold a Brown Bag Lunch Vigil in their district offices, and present them with the Orderly Withdrawal proposal.