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I’m not convinced that there is any light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not convinced that this war is coming to an end.

And I do not believe we should continue sacrificing the dedication and blood of our servicemen and women for a deeply flawed and corrupt government that is simply not “fixable.”  Oh, we can change the names, the programs, the projects – but it’s simply more of the same problems – over and over again.

James P. McGovern (MA)
H.R. 5856, the FY 2013 Defense Appropriations Act
“Strike the Last Word” – 5-Minutes on Afghanistan
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This year marks the 12th consecutive appropriations season that the United States has been fighting and funding the war in Afghanistan.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are still deep in war in Afghanistan.  The threat of nuclear weapons in Iran, drone strikes in Pakistan, the nightmare of mass murder in Syria garner the attention of the news media.  But we currently have more than 90,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and about 110,000 contractors.

Some of these troops are slated to come home over this summer, but many more – approximately 88,000 – will remain.  And the exact number of troops that will remain in Afghanistan as the U.S. and allies transition to local security forces through 2013 and 2014 is still unclear.  

Neither the Pentagon nor the Administration has publicly laid out post-2014 plans, but they are clearly leaving open the possibility of a significant military presence.

This is the reality we face as we open debate on this bill.  

Mr. Chairman, I’m not convinced that there is any light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not convinced that this war is coming to an end.

And I do not believe we should continue sacrificing the dedication and blood of our servicemen and women for a deeply flawed and corrupt government that is simply not “fixable.”  Oh, we can change the names, the programs, the projects – but it’s simply more of the same problems – over and over again.

It’s regrettable that this war is not more of a priority in public debate.   And it is unconscionable that debating this war is not a top priority for this Congress. The Majority wouldn’t even let us have a full debate and vote on an amendment during the defense authorizations bill to make sure the commitments made by the Administration to draw down our troops over the next two years are kept.

Congress is deeply complicit in maintaining and continuing the war.

We’ve allocated $634 billion for military operations in Afghanistan since 2001, including the $85.6 billion in this bill.  

We’re not just spending those billions, Mr. Chairman – we’re borrowing them.  Every single penny for the war in Afghanistan has been borrowed, put on the national credit card, exploded our deficit and our debt.  Every.  Single.  Penny.

Each week of war in 2012 costs about $2 billion.  If the Pentagon’s “enduring presence” means thousands of troops remaining in Afghanistan after 2014 for who knows how long, then we are looking at a trillion dollar war.

Meanwhile, we’re cutting funds for our schools, preparing to slash billions of dollars from the safety net that’s supposed to keep our own people out of poverty; watching our roads, bridges, water systems and infrastructure decay; and we’re told there’s no money to invest in health care and scientific research.

And for what, Mr. Chairman, for what?  Show me where our military might has put a permanent end to instability, violence or corruption?  

Even though the media isn’t focused on it, the violence in Afghanistan goes on.  The U.S. death toll for Operation Enduring Freedom is over two thousand – 1,919 of those deaths happened in Afghanistan.  

Members of the Afghan military and security forces continue to turn their guns on our troops and murder them.  

According to the Pentagon, 154 Active Duty soldiers committed suicide in the first 159 days of this year – that’s almost one per day.  And as for our veterans, the VA estimates that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes.

How long will we ask our troops and their families to pay this price?  Because they’re the only ones paying for this war, Mr. Chairman, the only ones.

I don’t believe we should abandon the people of Afghanistan.  But I do believe we must end this war, sooner rather than later.

And I’m not convinced we’re anywhere close to an end.  And it’s the fault of Congress.  We approve the money – and we remain silent – year after year.

We need to stop.  We aren’t supporting our troops. We’re committing them to suffer life-long trauma from too many deployments, for too long a time, over too many years.

For a war without end.  For a war that always needs just a little more time – and just a few billion dollars more.

Enough is enough.  I urge my colleagues to support amendments over the next 3 days to reduce the funding for this war, bring it to an end, and honor the sacrifice of our troops by bringing them and our tax dollars back home.

Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM PT: UPDATE: Check out highlights from all 15 members who spoke on Afghanistan:


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Comment Preferences

  •  Smack right on! We are spending (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, DRo, EdMass

    huge amounts, soldiers are coming back injured for life for this never ending war.

    Does this get full debate in Congress. No, debate has been blocked.

    Does this get discussed here at Dailykos?  No, its all Mitt, all the time!  

    Poll after poll show the majority is ready for this to end, stat.

    Good job, Congressman.

    Kossacks who care and want to do SOMETHING  add your voice, here
    :
    Congress Set to Waste 57 Percent of Our Taxes

    http://act.rootsaction.org/...

    How did Supreme Court decision ACA help the 23 million still uncovered? Ask the 18,000 Doctors of PNHP -- they're not waiting, FORWARD now to pass H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act .

    by divineorder on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:44:35 PM PDT

  •  Good Luck with this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, divineorder

    to rile the DKos to action and support.

    My experience here

    Afghanistan 2014 - my a$$

    14 comments, 6 recs, 71 views...

    I'd vote for you if I could.

    Please don't stop.

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:56:05 PM PDT

    •  Turkana used to rile em up. Miss that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EdMass

      Kos  wrote this back in January ,

      Leon Panetta: U.S. to end Afghanistan combat role by mid-2013
      in which he tallies up the dead and points to a light at the end of the tunnel but says more soldiers will die by then.

      Polls show Americans not too happy.

      Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch:

      July 17, 2012, 1:41 p.m. EDT
      Americans Question Gains of War in Afghanistan
      WASHINGTON, Jul 17, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- The United States granted Afghanistan special status as an official non-NATO ally this past weekend, adding Afghanistan to a select group that includes Israel, Japan, and Pakistan. Presumably, this move in part attempts to assuage Afghan government concerns over the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from their country in 2014. According to American public opinion, however, there are no regrets about bringing the troops home. In fact, results from the recent Chicago Council Survey find that nearly seven in ten Americans think the war in Afghanistan has not been worth the cost.

      Two in three Americans believe war in Afghanistan not worth fighting

      More than twice as many Americans (67%) say that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting than say that it has been (32%). Majorities across the political spectrum agree that the costs outweigh the benefits, though Republicans are more likely to say the war has been worth it (41%) and Independents are least likely to say so (22%).

      This finding is on par with an identically worded question in an April 2012 ABC News/Washington Post poll and a striking reversal from the ABC February 2007 poll when a majority (57%) thought that the fighting in Afghanistan was worth the costs.

      After more than a decade, a majority think Afghan war has not made U.S. safer

      snip

      There's even more interesting stats in the full deal.

      We must retask that money and rebuild here. Stat.

      How did Supreme Court decision ACA help the 23 million still uncovered? Ask the 18,000 Doctors of PNHP -- they're not waiting, FORWARD now to pass H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act .

      by divineorder on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:55:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Relax (0+ / 0-)

        they're an "ally" now.  They'll muster their resources and armaments and global capability and come to our defense....

        umm, crap.

        Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

        by EdMass on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:04:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Congressman. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey

    I wish we had more like you.  Thanks for speaking out.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:03:12 PM PDT

  •  WHAT threat of nuclear weapons in Iran, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, divineorder

    Congressman?

    Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

    by JesseCW on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:33:51 PM PDT

  •  Afghanistan War, the loneliest diaries to write (0+ / 0-)

    here on dkos. So few comments, so few recs.

    Have we all given up and accepted this war without end, without goals, without direction?

    Is the Anti-war "movement" silenced?

    Neither the Pentagon nor the Administration has publicly laid out post-2014 plans, but they are clearly leaving open the possibility of a significant military presence.

    This is the reality

    90,000 troops and over 113,000 private contractors still there......11 years now, 11 long, long years.

    Daniel Ellsberg, “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.”

    by allenjo on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 07:21:16 AM PDT

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