Americans of all ideological persuasions are fed up with the Afghanistan War. We're fed up with a $5.7 billion-per-month military campaign that's gone nowhere over the past 12 months. We're fed up with being told we'll have to do without vital public services because of the sorry state of our national finances, while at the same time our politicians are spending $2 billion a year to police a dusty Afghan town called Marjah. But most of all, we're tired of the song-and-dance from officials who think they can spin a year full of ugly setbacks as "progress." We know better.
We're so fed up, in fact, that over the past week, with the help of Brave New Foundation's Rethink Afghanistan campaign, several hundred ordinary Americans pooled their resources in an online fundraising drive and picked three everyday people to star in the first-ever anti-Afghanistan-War TV ad. The ad has run all this week in Washington, D.C. on CNN to get make sure politicians know we want our troops brought home--because it's time.
For months, public opinion polls have been very clear on Americans' opposition to the Afghanistan War. This past week, Gallup's latest poll showed that 72 percent of Americans want Congress to act this year to speed up troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. This support cuts across ideological lines, with strong majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents wanting Congress to rein in the war. And yet, somehow, President Obama and Congress persist in requesting and approving funds to keep this war going long past a time period acceptable to most of their constituents.
What will it take to get policy-makers' attention to the fact that the war isn't making us safer and isn't worth the cost? The worst year for U.S. troop deaths ever so far in the war? Check. The worst year for civilian casualties? Check. The highest annual cost of the war so far? Check. We could throw in 9 percent unemployment at home, an economic crisis, and deficit hysteria at home as well. There's simply no justification for continuing to spend almost $6 billion a month on a futile, brutal war while cutting programs that keep people from freezing in the winter.
Take, for example, one of the hardest hit cities in the new economy: Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit metropolitan area has an unemployment rate of more than 11 percent. But this year alone, taxpayers in Detroit will pay $180.4 million for the war. WIth that same amount of money, Detroit could have hired 2,523 elementary school teachers, 3,435 firefighters, or 2,815 cops for a year. Our communities here in the U.S. are suffering in a terrible economic vise. When do we stop wasting money on this futile war and start getting serious about getting American back on its feet?
Some Members of Congress, thankfully, do hear the voices of their constituents. Today, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a bipartisan set of cosponsors introduced the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, a bill designed to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. And, many of these elected officials spent the week working to restrict funding for war during the debate over the continuing resolution to fund the government. They face an uphill fight in a Capitol awash with war industry lobbying dollars, but every time they take a vote, they're building on the last roll call, expanding the number of people willing to stand up and say, "enough."
That's why we helped run the first-ever anti-Afghanistan-War ad on TV in Washington, D.C. this week: to support the efforts of public servants willing to cast the tough votes, and to tell our politicians we want our troops brought home--because it's time.
UPDATE: Several Members of Congress have posted blog pieces today at The Huffington Post on this issue. Take a look:
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