The cavalry has arrived!
MoveOn To Call On Obama To Develop Exit Strategy For Afghanistan
In its first direct pressure on President Obama over a major war-and-peace issue, MoveOn will call on the president today to develop an exit strategy for Afghanistan, a MoveOn official confirms to me.
MoveOn will blast an email to its massive list later today calling for members to write to the White House and demand "a clear exit strategy," the official confirms.
Indeed, MoveOn has already sent the email to some of its members. (If you are a MoveOn member and didn't see the email, don't panic - MoveOn typically starts its engagement by sending an email to part of its massive list.)
Sargent publishes the email here.
Pro-war advocates both inside and outside the administration - including John McCain and Joe Lieberman - are calling for a big escalation. The general in charge of Afghanistan is expected to request tens of thousands more troops, and that may just be the beginning. They're cranking up the pressure for an immediate surge.
But other powerful voices are urging caution: Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have raised real concerns about the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan without a clear strategy, as have Democrats in Congress. And a majority of Americans oppose increasing troop levels.
Can you write to the White House and tell them we need a clear exit strategy--not tens of thousands more US troops stuck in a quagmire? You can send the President a message by clicking below:
This is a huge deal, not just, of course, because many more people will now be writing to the President in opposition to escalation and in favor of an exit strategy. (Although that also is very important - have you written President Obama yet?) But also because 1) this is a clear signal to Democrats in Congress who don't support escalation that now is the time to say so publicly, in particular, by calling for an "exit strategy" and 2) this is a clear signal to the political people in the White House that they have public backing for resisting the Pentagon/neocon pressure demanding military escalation and more troops.
The move is significant, because the major liberal groups had, until now, largely refrained from pressuring Obama on Afghanistan, partly to give the new president breathing room to tackle major domestic challenges, partly to preserve good relations with the new administration, and partly because public opinion wasn't exercised about the war.
But a host of new factors -- the sudden media focus on Afghanistan, the public's swing against the war, the administration's internal debate over a a troop increase, and pressure from conservatives for an escalation -- means MoveOn must now engage the issue, even if it means exerting direct pressure on the President.
MoveOn is right. Come out, come out, anti-war liberals. The time to speak out is now, while the White House is publicly uncommitted. As journalist Andrea Mitchell said regarding President Obama's response to the McChrystal report,
So, you have to ask, would you prefer to have a president who doesn't shift strategy when he gets this kind of 'ground truth' from the commanders?
Follow Robert Naiman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naiman