The United States House of Representatives approved a war funding bill yesterday that contains no restrictions on the rapidly escalating Afghanistan War. The bill was passed by a vote 368-60. Only 51 Democrats voted against the bill, despite their frequent rhetorical opposition to the wars.
According to an analysis by the Associated Press, $84.5 billion of the $96.7 billion goes directly to military efforts. Only a paltry $10 billion is allotted for foreign aid. Instead, the bill focuses on the flawed military approach to fighting terrorism.
No amendments to the bill were allowed by the Democratic leadership in the House. This meant that Jim McGovern’s amendment requiring the Obama administration to develop an “exit strategy” for Afghanistan was not considered. In response, McGovern has introduced the measure as a standalone bill. It already has 74 cosponsors.
Before the vote, the measure was opposed by anti-war groups such as Code Pink, who said:
The supplemental, without an exit strategy, clearly recycles failed Bush administration policies. It will continue to fuel the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, increasing their numbers (as outlined by many military strategists and think tanks). It will also lead to more civilian deaths — a United Nations report released earlier this year found the Afghan civilian death toll nearly doubled in 2008 under U.S. presence, with the U.S. responsible for almost half the deaths. In addition, increased American troop presence to 68,000 by year’s end will further alienate Afghans who increasingly view the U.S. as an occupying force. The number of Afghan people who believe the U.S. has performed well dropped this year to 32 percent from 68 percent in 2005, military scholar Anthony Cordesman told a Congressional hearing.
Unfortunately, more liberal groups such as MoveOn.org that had for years opposed the Iraq War to varying degrees, said nothing about the supplemental–instead choosing to ignore the vote. While critiques are to be made about MoveOn and related groups when it comes to anti-war organizing, their unwillingness to challenge the Obama administration is contributing to the sense that the fight against the wars is over, despite the fact that daily events in Iraq and Afghanistan make it clear that anti-war organizing is very much needed.