COALITION LETTER TO PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: REGARDING THE 2009 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS
May 12, 2009
Dear Progressive Caucus Member:
The undersigned organizations and concerned individuals have worked closely with the Progressive Caucus to prevent and to end the Iraq War. We appreciate your leadership on this issue and your continued efforts to ensure the removal of all U.S. troops from the country. We are also grateful for all that the Caucus, collectively and individually, has already done to speak out against the widening war in Afghanistan, which contradicts both our national security and our national values.
At this critical moment, your continued leadership to help reverse the downward spiral of the security situation in Afghanistan is urgently required. We urge you to oppose the expansion of the war in Afghanistan; require the Obama administration to present and implement an exit strategy; and to press for a greater investment in Afghan-led development efforts and regional diplomacy to stabilize the country.
We also urge you to press for an immediate end to U.S. air raids that continue to kill and maim Afghan civilians and destroy Afghan property. What is euphemistically termed 'collateral damage' not only takes civilian lives but also inflames Afghans' hostility to the U.S. and wins new supporters for the Taliban. According to the U.N. Assistance Mission, U.S. strikes produced 64% of all civilian deaths caused by the U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces in 2008. Just this week, 'collateral damage' from U.S. air strikes took another 100 innocent lives, according to Afghan officials.
Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, National Security Advisor Jones, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen, and even President Obama himself, have each acknowledged that the internal conflict in Afghanistan cannot finally be won by military means. They have publicly agreed that it will have to be won -- if it can -- by dramatic improvements in the economy, the political system, government services, and the courts.
The President's FY 2009 supplemental funding request would clearly widen the war in Afghanistan. We urge Congress to restructure the package to focus funding on the expanded diplomacy, development assistance, and international cooperation that are key to ending these conflicts and promoting a stable peace in the wider region. To defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country, the U.S. must enable the Afghan people to develop public services and an effective justice system essential to create political stability and support for the government; to develop agricultural alternatives to drug crops; and to root out corruption.
Given these objectives, the ratio of military to non-military funding in the Administration's $83.4 billion supplemental budget makes little sense. More than 90% of the funds allocated for Afghanistan in the supplemental is for an escalation of war-fighting by U.S. military units. It would widen -- not wind down -- the war there. That contradicts the Administration's own admission about how the 'war' will be won or lost.
President Obama has agreed that the U.S. must convince Afghans we have "no interest or aspiration to be there over the long term." Yet our troop escalation, increased operational tempo, and expansion of large bases suggests just the opposite.
In light of these concerns, we believe that the Congress should restructure the supplemental spending in several critical ways:
* Require the administration to set a date certain for withdrawal.
* Prohibit any further Predator and other missile strikes and aerial bombing likely to result in civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
* Approve the $7.1 billion in funding for the international affairs budget, including: $3.7 billion for humanitarian aid, development initiatives, and diplomatic support in Afghanistan.
* Oppose all new funding for combat in Afghanistan and, at a minimum, dramatically change the proportion of funds for war-fighting compared to those for development, stabilization, and diplomatic cooperation.
Now is the time to reverse direction in Afghanistan so that the U.S., as President Obama envisioned, "forge a hard-earned peace" there.
United For Peace and Justice
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Progressive Democrats of America
U.S. Labor Against the War
Green Party of the U.S.
Voters For Peace
9th(MA) Coalition for Peace
After Downing Street
Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian and Universalists' Social Justice Committee
Brooklyn For Peace
Cape Codders For Peace & Justice
Central Colorado Coalition on the Iraq War
Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War (NYC)
Colombia Support Network
Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
Community Alliance of Lane County
Center For Social Action, Manhattanville College
De Kalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice
Democratic World Federalists
Dorchester People for Peace (Boston, Massachusetts)
End the War Coalition - Phoenix
Fox Valley Peace Coalition
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Gold Star Families for Peace & MFSO
Grandmothers Against the War (SF/Bay Area)
H.S. Power & Light - Latino Faith Initiative - Colorado
IUCC Advocates for Peace and Justice
Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War
Kansas Progressive Caucus
Lafayette Area Peace Coalition
LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
MFSO Bergen County
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice
North Suburban Peace Initiative
Oak Park Coalition for Truth and justice
Office of the Americas Organization
Orlando Peace and Justice
Palisadans for Peace
Peace & Justice Center (Vermont)
Peace Action New York State
Peace Action Wisconsin
Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois
Peace NO War Network
Peace Action Montgomery
Philipstown for Democracy - Garrison, NY
Progressive Librarians Guild
Rock River Peace & Justice Group, Wisconsin
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
School of the Americas Watch
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Somerville/Medford (MA) United for Justice with Peace
Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War
St. Louis Instead of War Coalition
Students for Peace and Justice
Teaneck Peace and Justice Coalition
The Flames of Discontent
TN PeaceRoots Alliance
Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Focus on Iraq
United for Justice with Peace
United for Peace of Pierce County (Tacoma, WA)
US Peace Council
Veterans For Peace Chapter 021 New Jersey
Veterans For Peace Chapter 021 New Jersey
Washington Peace Center
Watertown (MA) Citizens for Environmental Safety
West Michigan Climate Action Network
Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation
WILPF - Santa Cruz
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
Women in Black Phoenix