Friday, July 02, 2010

The Afghanistan War is unpopular, and getting more so

This was evidenced by an important vote this week in the House of Representatives, as longtime peace activist Tom Hayden explains in House Stands Firm on Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable The Nation 07/02/2010:

One hundred sixty-two House members, including a large majority of Democrats, sent a significant antiwar message to President Obama last night, forcing the White House to depend for Afghanistan war support on the Republicans who want to unseat the Democrats and Obama himself in upcoming elections.

Despite claims by punditry that the antiwar movement has disappeared, stalwart Representative Barbara Lee gained 100 votes for her amendment rejecting $33 billion for 30,000 new troops already being sent to Afghanistan. Seven of her votes were Republicans. The measure would have redirected the $33 billion to expenses incurred in redeploying the troops out of Afghanistan.

More significant numerically, there were 162 votes cast for Representative Jim McGovern’s amendment, co-authored by representatives David Obey and Walter Jones, which articulated a game plan for ending the war. Only a year ago, the same measure was introduced as a general and non-binding resolution. This time the proposal required, as a condition of funding, an exit proposal including a withdrawal timetable, by next spring, before the president's announced plan to "begin" withdrawals in July. Further, in response to rising pressure to delay withdrawals, the McGovern proposal would require another Congressional vote if the administration succumbed to pressure from Republicans and the military to delay the beginning departure date.

Among Democrats, the vote for McGovern was 153-98, with nine Republican supporters. Significantly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who this week predicted a strong Democratic push for a "substantial drawdown" by next year, voted with McGovern. [my emphasis]
This is important. Of the Democrats voting on the latter measure, 61% opposed continuation of the Afghanistan War. Obama really has achieved his dream of bipartisanship on this war: he can only continue it with the support of Republicans who know that its unpopularity will damage Democrats' electoral prospects by de-motivating their base voters to go to the polls.

For some perceptive observations on the significance of even a failing vote like this, see Dibgy, Scaring the bejezuz out of 'em Hullabaloo 07/02/2010.

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"It is the logic of our times
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