Sunday, March 22, 2009

Forums Planned on Afghanistan

Congressional Progressive Caucus Holding Forums on Afghanistan/Pakistan

In a move to awaken Congress to the need for debate on the Afghanistan/Pakistan war, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will hold six forums beginning this week and ending in May.

The forums are a response to calls from Tom Hayden, Brave New Foundation, Peace Action West, southern California clergy, and other anti-war groups.

According to Hayden, who met twice with CPC co-chair Raul Grijalva, “Congressional opposition to these wars has not begun to stir, perhaps because of confusion, deference to the Obama administration, or pre-occupation with the economy. Therefore this is a preliminary attempt to ‘get Afghanistan right’ before it becomes yet another trillion-dollar quagmire.” [for information and new video material on Afghanistan/Pakistan, contact Axel Woolfolk and Leighton Woodhouse at BNF, emailaxel@gmail.com],lwoodhouse@bravenewfoundation.org, and the campaign websight rethinkafghanistan.com

The forums, while an important stimulus to Congressional discussion, are problematic in several ways:

1. They are heavily laden with representatives of the national security establishment, with certain exceptions like William Polk, a historian and critic of the Iraq War.
2. There are no participants from the anti-war movement, whose expertise is anchored in having been right in the past.
3. There is no panel on exit strategies from the two wars.
4. There is no discussion of how Congress can and should play an oversight role in obtaining accurate budget figures, casualty numbers, information on mass detentions, and holding the Obama administration accountable for measurable progress.

“Local anti-war groups should gear up to oppose President Obama’s forthcoming plans for escalating these wars, and request that their Congressional representatives participate in shaping these initial CPC forums in a more progressive direction”, Hayden suggested.

The CPC can be reached through executive director William Goold at bill.goold@mail.house.gov, or through Glenn Miller in Rep. Grijalva’s office, at glenn.miller@mail.house.gov

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