By Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) - 07/01/10 12:20 AM EDT
The consequences are grave when Congress cedes its constitutional responsibility to determine whether or not America stays at war. We went to war in Iraq based on lies. More than one million innocent Iraqis have died. We have lost more than 4,000 of our troops. The long-term cost will be close to $3 trillion. Our continued presence in Afghanistan is an unmitigated disaster. Yet Congress continues to appropriate money for the war.
The Afghanistan war is a cesspool of corruption. Billions in U.S. taxpayers’ dollars are stuffed into suitcases and flown out of Kabul. The counterinsurgency strategy is a failure. McChrystal, PetraeU.S.? You can change the name, but it’s more of the same. “Relentless pursuit” is not a strategy.
Meanwhile a third of Karzai’s fellow Afghans live in extreme poverty, with 30 percent of Afghan children working to try to support their families. The Department of Defense announced its involvement in the disposition of over a trillion dollars in mineral assets it “discovered” in Afghanistan; this after Karzai is greeted as a hero in D.C. and given special access to the floor of the United States Senate! Heaviest casualties of our troops are in Helmand and Kandahar province, site of a critical link in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India oil pipeline. Expansion of the war into Pakistan has occurred, with Predator drones killing innocent villagers. “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, as reported in The New York Times.
At least 30,000 Afghan civilians have died. The deaths of innocents fuel the insurgency. Occupations fuel insurgency. Battle for control of resources fuels the insurgency. No wonder our “partner” Karzai is looking for a deal with the Taliban. He knows his golden U.S. gravy train won’t be around forever.
One of Gen. McChrystal’s top aides was quoted as saying “If Americans … started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.” The question is when will Congress finally begin paying attention to this war which is being waged with its consent? When will Congress realize that we have lost more than 1,200 troops too many? That we have spent $300 billion too much? That the deaths of our brave soldiers cannot be justified? That their service is sacred, but the mission is not. That the death of every innocent Afghan citizen is a blot on our national conscience? When will Congress cut off funding? When will the requirements of our failing domestic economy, of unemployment, factory closings, business failures, foreclosures, loss of savings, bankruptcies, failing infrastructure and failing energy policy cause us to look homeward? Or should we cut social and economic programs to balance the budget to pay for the war?
The Constitution, and subsequent court rulings make it very clear that under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the power to end a war. Whether, and when, Congress will finally step up to its responsibility remains to be seen.
Rep. Kucinich serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.