By David Swanson
Even congress members who voted against the war supplemental in June 2009 are refusing to say they’ll vote against an escalation supplemental in the coming days. Some of them, in fact, such as Jerrold Nadler and Chellie Pingree have told me that they will vote No if it’s a stand-alone vote, but might very well vote yes if lots of other stuff is packed into the same bill.
Morally, this is like a cop telling you that murder will be allowed if you also do some good community service.
Strategically, this is like playing poker with your hand turned around to display all your cards.
Pingree says the war makes us all less safe, but she won’t commit to not voting to fund it.
Here’s what Pingree’s office just sent me: “Congresswoman Pingree has urged leadership to give Members a clean vote on a supplemental—and in that situation she would definitely vote against additional funding for the war in Afghanistan.”
Here’s her statement of regret upon voting YES this week for a massive military and war bill in the Armed Services Committee (a standard bill, not the supplemental which is separate):
HON. CHELLIE PINGREE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st District of Maine
Statement for the Record, National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2011, HR 5136
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your continued efforts to provide the members of our armed forces with the resources and equipment they need to defend the country. The important work of this committee cannot be overstated, it is essential to the national security of the United States.
As long as the men and women in the armed forces are in harms way, we have an obligation to provide them with every protection and all the equipment and technology necessary to protect themselves and the United States. I am encouraged that this legislation goes a long way in accomplishing that goal. However, I am extremely disappointed that the committee chose to authorize an additional $33.1 billion for the President’s FY10 budget request for the surge in Afghanistan as well as $159.3 billion for FY11 overseas contingency operations, the majority of which will no doubt be spent in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The escalation of the war in Afghanistan has not improved the situation there, and is in fact making matters much worse by providing a recruiting tool for those who seek to do our military harm. The people of Afghanistan view the U.S. Military as an occupying force, which makes them more sympathetic to the Taliban and its goals of killing American troops. President Obama’s decision, with this committee’s support of continued military operations and additional U.S. forces in Afghanistan can only lead to the loss of more American lives. We are pursuing a failed strategy at a tremendous cost to the American people. The loss of one American serviceman or woman is simply too high a cost for a mission that does not strengthen our national security.
Beyond the enormous costs of the loss of human life, I must also stress the skyrocketing financial costs associated with continuing this war. Maine’s taxpayers alone have contributed more than $2.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During these difficult economic times, and with a total cost of $1.05 trillion and counting for both wars, our priorities must be reducing the deficit and investing in job creation — not fighting a war that puts the lives of our young men and women on the line and does nothing to make us safer here at home or abroad.
The men and women of the military have performed selflessly and heroically in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have done everything we have asked of them and more. I will continue to advocate for the equipment and resources they need to protect this country. After nine years and two wars, it is time to truly support our troops and bring them home, safely and quickly from both Afghanistan and Iraq. We should not be spending money on military operations that in the long run do not strengthen our national security.
Oh, if only talk were expensive and actions spoke more quietly than words!