Last weekend marked another grim new milestone for the war in Afghanistan: more than twice as many U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since President Obama took office than in the eight years Bush was President.
There is, quite literally, no end in sight. In 2014 -- three years from now -- there is supposed to be a "transition" to "Afghan lead" on the war. But if the Pentagon has its way, 2014 will not be a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. If the Pentagon has its way, there will still be tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2014, as there were when Obama took office. Indeed, if the Pentagon has its way, there will still be tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2024.
Because a lot of people in Afghanistan don't want U.S. troops in their country, and quite a few of those people have guns and are willing to fight as long as U.S. troops are there, and there is no feasible way for the U.S. to eradicate all these people, that means that if the Pentagon has its way, the war will go on without end.
If we assume that Ron Paul is unlikely to win the Republican primary -- a long shot, by most accounts -- the presidential election next November is not likely to help us much to end the war. Most analysts are predicting that the presidential choice facing voters next November is likely to be between some war (Obama) and even more war (Romney.)
But there is at least one plausible way to stop the Pentagon's plan which is within reach of the multitude: elect 218 people to the House who will vote against it.
In May of this year, 204 Members of the House voted to require the president to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The vote was 204-215. If six people voting had switched from no to yes, the McGovern Amendment would have passed. But to be safe, let's suppose everyone is voting. In a full House, we need to add about eight votes to get to 218.
This will not be an easy goal, but it is a feasible goal. In practice, if we can make the war a Congressional campaign issue, some people will move through conversion rather than election.
If this project were successful, it would be kind of unprecedented in recent history. In 2006 the Iraq war became a major campaign issue, but Bush was president, providing a lightning rod for organizing, and major institutional players had a strong incentive to help make Iraq a campaign issue.
But perhaps if we demonstrate support, some major institutional player with a bigger bullhorn will get interested, take this project over, and move it to the next level.
So here is the pledge:
I will support and donate $20.14 to a Congressional candidate who meets the following two criteria:
1. The candidate faces a contested primary which he or she has a plausible chance of winning, according to a poll or press report; and the candidate, if victorious in the primary, has a plausible chance of getting elected;
2. The candidate is distinguished from his or her principal primary opponent by supporting legislation that would require the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
You can support this pre-campaign now in the following ways:
1. Help us document who are the candidates nationwide who meet the two criteria. The documentation should be something that constitutes public evidence. In the case of documenting that someone is a serious candidate in a contested primary, a press report or published poll. In the case of documenting that a candidate supports requiring a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a press report or candidate website. If the candidate hasn't made a public statement, press them to make one -- that's part of the campaign.
2. Promote the pledge. Forward this post; join this group on Facebook.