By David Swanson
We’ve all heard the line. “That would make us look weak on national security.” That line is supposed to be based on public opinion, not just the opinions of media corporations and pundits working for Pentagon-funded think tanks. That line is supposed to have something to do with the general American public. But it does not.
Take a look at this survey from last spring by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (University of Maryland): http://tinyurl.com/8jzp5
According to this data, the largest cut by far that most Americans would make in federal discretionary spending is in the military budget, which they would cut by nearly a third. In particular, majorities favor reducing spending on the capacity for conducting large-scale nuclear and conventional wars. Next on the list of cuts after the “defense” budget? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most Americans believe that spending on economic and humanitarian aid is much higher than it is, and yet they want it increased significantly. Most Americans favor multilateral approaches to security.
On issues where public opinion diverges this far from common media depictions of public opinion, it is rare to find elected officials acting on behalf of real majorities (rather than taking their advice from strategists with election win-loss records of 0 and 43).
But on this issue, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, a Democrat and Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, is leading the way. There are 53 co-sponsors of her H. CON. RES. 158, also known as a “Sensible, Multilateral American Response to Terrorism (SMART) security platform for the 21st century.”
Woolsey is not aiming for machismo here, but for intelligence. “Our Iraq policy hasn’t just been immoral,” she wrote in an op-ed, “it’s been incompetent. There is a better way to ensure national security than the brawn-over-brains approach.”
Woolsey is not simply advocating a “Get tough on al Qaeda instead of Iraq” policy of the sort you hear from so many Democrats eager to ignore their base and pursue their opponents’. As we saw this week, when Bush gets tough on al Qaeda it’s by bombing civilians, and should he ever manage to kill Osama bin Laden, some of his political opponents will be left with nothing further to say. Woolsey, on the contrary, has proposed a serious alternative.
The SMART bill has five sections, aimed at creating a security strategy that
(1) prevents future acts of terrorism by strengthening international institutions and respect for the rule of law;
(2) reduces the threat and stops the spread of weapons of mass destruction and reduces the proliferation of conventional weapons;
(3) addresses root causes of terrorism and violent conflict;
(4) shifts United States budget priorities to more effectively meet the security needs of the United States; and
(5) pursues to the fullest extent alternatives to war
This op-ed by Congresswoman Woolsey about this security plan might just restore in you some hope for our country and world: http://woolseyforpeace.org/?q=node/45
Woolsey is launching a new website this week at http://woolseyforpeace.org The purpose of the site is to raise funds for her reelection campaign. There is a lot of money behind a challenge to her seat, and for her to keep it, she may need the support of everyone around the country who opposes the current war.
If we do want to end the war, we’d be smart to keep Lynn in Washington and to thank her for her leadership. Lynn Woolsey voted against the Iraq war. She also
–Led 15 Members of Congress in writing a letter to President Bush on Jan. 12, 2005, calling for the troops to be brought home.
–Was the first Member of Congress to call for U.S. troops to return from Iraq, when she introduced H.Con.Res. 35 on Jan. 26, 2005.
–Led the first debate on troop withdrawal on the House floor on May 25, 2005, introducing an amendment that garnered 128 votes, including 5 Republican votes.
–In June, was an original co-sponsor of H.J.Res. 55, the first legislation to set a timeline on troop withdrawal from Iraq.
–Hosted an informal bi-partisan hearing on exit strategies and reconstruction, on Sept. 15, 2005, and then spoke at rally in front of White House.
–Traveled to Iraq in October as part of a Congressional delegation to meet with U.S. Armed Forces.
–Wrote a letter to President Bush on Nov. 10, 2005, signed by 61 Congress Members, requesting a change in U.S. policy in Iraq.
–Since April 20, 2004, has given more than 120 speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives calling for an end to the war.
–Signed on this month as a co-sponsor of Congressman John Conyers’ bills to censure Bush and Cheney and to create a select committee to investigate grounds for impeachment.