ILL. SENATE TAKES STAND AGAINST AFGHANISTAN WAR
By Christopher Wills
May 12, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Senate has jumped into the deep water of foreign policy by passing a resolution that criticizes President Barack Obama's plan to step up military efforts in Afghanistan.
The resolution calls for the United States to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan rather than send more, as Obama plans to do.
"The people of the United States have indicated that this war has gone on long enough," says the resolution, which passed last week. "The Senate believes that it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Afghanistan."
This puts state senators at odds with Obama, who once served in the Illinois Senate, and with public opinion.
Polls show strong support for Obama's plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan despite some frustration with the length of the war, which was launched in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The resolution says America's focus in Afghanistan should be on capturing Osama bin Laden.
The resolution is purely advisory. It passed by voice vote, meaning the positions of individual state senators were not recorded.
Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, said he sponsored the resolution because he feels the war is eating up money that could be spent on domestic services while driving down the price of heroin.
"What are we getting? We're getting cheap heroin. We're getting massive numbers of addictions," Hendon said Tuesday.
The Senate approved a resolution in 2007 calling for an end to the war in Iraq. Hendon said he told his fellow Democrats that if they were willing to speak out on foreign policy then, they should speak out now, even though the new president is a friend and Democrat.
"I love Barack just like all of us love Barack down here, but he's wrong. He's wrong," Hendon said.
Patti Schuh, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said that because the resolution praises the service of troops who have served in Afghanistan, most GOP senators didn't feel it necessary to formally object to it.
But many felt the resolution was unnecessary, she said, and one Republican criticized the idea of Illinois weighing in on foreign policy when the measure came to the Senate floor.
"To some, it's just plain silly. What does the Illinois Senate have to do with escalation of troops in Afghanistan?" Schuh said.
The resolution is SR129.
SR0129 LRB096 11744 DRJ 22876 r
2 WHEREAS, The war in Afghanistan and the use of the United
3 States Armed Forces was necessary at the time following the
4 attacks on 9/11; and
5 WHEREAS, Our troops have performed magnificently and
6 heroically in their pursuit of terrorists; and
7 WHEREAS, United States Armed Forces have helped secure the
8 new government in Afghanistan; and
9 WHEREAS, The people of the United States have indicated
10 that this war has gone on long enough; and
11 WHEREAS, Many American service personnel have lost their
12 lives, and many more have been wounded, in Afghanistan, and the
13 American people will always honor their sacrifices and honor
14 their families; and
15 WHEREAS, Billions of dollars have been appropriated by
16 Congress to fund military operations and reconstruction in
17 Afghanistan, and Illinois residents' share now exceeds $2.1
18 billion; those funds could be going to much-needed
19 infrastructure, education, and capital programs; therefore, be
SR0129 - 2 - LRB096 11744 DRJ 22876 r
1 RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-SIXTH GENERAL
2 ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that the State of Illinois,
3 on behalf of its citizens, salutes and supports the dedicated
4 service of the members of the United States Armed Forces,
5 including members of the Illinois National Guard; and be it
7 RESOLVED, That on behalf of the citizens of Illinois, the
8 Senate believes that it is not in the national interest of the
9 United States to deepen its military involvement in
10 Afghanistan, particularly by escalating the United States
11 military force presence in Afghanistan, that the 17,000 U.S.
12 troops in Afghanistan should be recalled from there, and that
13 we should concentrate on capturing Osama bin Laden; and be it
15 RESOLVED, That the primary objective of United States
16 strategy in Afghanistan should be to have the Afghani political
17 leaders make the political compromises necessary to end the
18 violence in Afghanistan; and be it further
19 RESOLVED, That greater concerted regional and
20 international support would assist the Afghanis in achieving a
21 political solution and national reconciliation; and be it
SR0129 - 3 - LRB096 11744 DRJ 22876 r
1 RESOLVED, That the United States should engage nations in
2 the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally
3 sponsored peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan;
4 and be it further
5 RESOLVED, That the United States should transfer, under an
6 appropriately expedited timeline, responsibility for internal
7 security and halting sectarian violence in Afghanistan to the
8 Government of Afghanistan and Afghani Security Forces from
9 American military personnel; and be it further
10 RESOLVED, That the Department of Defense and the Veterans
11 Administration must provide the highest quality of care to our
12 American heroes wounded and injured in Afghanistan; and be it
14 RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution shall be
15 sent to President Barack Obama, the members of the Illinois
16 Congressional delegation, the Speaker of the United States
17 House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the United
18 States House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of
19 the United States Senate, and the Minority Leader of the United
20 States Senate.