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ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress: Fund Aid, Not War


April 17, 2009
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Next week, the House will consider President Barack Obama's request for billions of dollars to fund the war in Iraq and expand the war in Afghanistan. Although the president has laid out a strategy in Afghanistan that includes diplomacy and development, the vast majority of the funds in this war supplemental bill will be focused on military troops, guns, and ammunition.

http://capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=13153876

Tell Congress: Fund Aid, Not War

• Ask your representative to vote "no" on funding for more US warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Click Here.

Next week, the House will consider President Barack Obama's request for billions of dollars to fund the war in Iraq and expand the war in Afghanistan. Although the president has laid out a strategy in Afghanistan that includes diplomacy and development, the vast majority of the funds in this war supplemental bill will be focused on military troops, guns, and ammunition.

We at FCNL hope that Congress will take a hard look at President Obama's request for $83.4 billion in supplemental spending. Of these funds, $75.5 billion would cover the cost of the war fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for the rest of fiscal year 2009, and only $7.1 billion would support the international affairs budget to secure peace.

In our judgment, the president's supplemental funding request is not structured to wind down and end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather than voting for more money to expand the war in Afghanistan, Congress should invest in the long-term diplomacy and development assistance that will lead to a comprehensive and stable peace.

Take Action
Urge your representative to carefully examine the president's war funding request. He or she could play a key role in refocusing money on the long-term diplomacy and development assistance that would lead to a comprehensive and stable peace.

Background
FCNL Tells Congress: Vote No More Money for War & Fully Fund Aid
4/16/2009
As Congress considers President Obama's request for $83.4 billion for supplemental spending, FCNL urges Congress to vote against more money for war but to approve funding for development and diplomacy. On April 16, 2009, FCNL sent the following letter to the House and the Senate.

Dear Representative/Senator,

We at FCNL hope that Congress will take a hard look at President Barack Obama's request for $83.4 billion in supplemental spending. Congress should vote "no" on more funding for warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but approve the $7.1 billion international affairs request for development and diplomacy.

In our judgment, the president's supplemental funding request is not structured to wind down and end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather than funding aggressive new military tactics that could widen the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we urge Congress to restructure the package to focus funding on the expanded diplomacy, development assistance, and international cooperation that are key to ending these conflicts and promoting a stable peace in the wider region.

In speeches, reports, and testimony before Congress, the president, the Pentagon, and other officials in the new administration have stressed the importance of US investments in regional strategies that rely on smart diplomacy, expanded development assistance, and cooperation with other countries in the region. Yet the proportion of military to non-military expenditures in the president's request is not very different from previous warfighting supplementals. More than 95% of the funds allocated for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the $83.4 billion supplemental funding request President Obama submitted to Congress will pay for military operations in those countries.

In particular, the war supplemental will fund the aggressive new military tactics and the wider war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that President Obama outlined in a policy statement March 27. Nothing in the president's policy or in the funding request addresses the widely-held judgment that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and US raids in Pakistan are the most important elements driving the resurgence of the Taliban. Nothing in the policy or the bill reflects the president's previously expressed insight that the US must convince Afghans that it has "no interest or aspiration to be there over the long term."

Congress should not write a new blank check for warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress should instead:

• Affirm that the US has no intention of maintaining a long-term presence in Afghanistan by prohibiting expenditures to build permanent bases there and requiring the administration to set a date certain for withdrawal.

• Reduce the civilian death toll and resultant hostility toward the US by requiring the administration to end Predator missile strikes and other aerial bombing responsible for civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported air strikes are responsible for 64% of all civilian deaths caused by the US, NATO, and Afghan forces in 2008.

• Ensure that the United States withdraws all of its armed forces from Iraq no later than December 31, 2011, by requiring the administration to submit the US-Iraq withdrawal agreement of November 2008 (the "SOFA") to Congress for approval. Such approval would establish that US forces cannot remain in Iraq beyond 2011 without congressional consent.

At the same time Congress should:
• Approve the $7.1 billion in funding for the international affairs budget, including:

• $2.875 billion for critical development, reconstruction, and stabilization needs in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, including
• $448 million to help developing countries manage impact of the global economic crisis.
• $293 million in refugee and migration assistance
• $200 million in disaster aid for Africa and elsewhere
• $280 million for peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction needs in Kenya and Georgia

• Approve $30 million for the Department of Justice for shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison and implement a review of the US detention and interrogation procedures.

• Approve the administration’s request for State and Energy Department funding for nuclear disablement and dismantlement work in North Korea.

The president's supplemental funding request as a whole does not support policies that will end US warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any further funds appropriated by Congress for Iraq and Afghanistan should clearly be directed to end, not expand or extend, the wars. The failure of the supplemental request to significantly increase the proportion of US resources allocated for non-military security vs. military operations, moreover, threatens to contradict the administration's new emphasis on using all of the instruments of US power to build a better world.

We at FCNL oppose all new funding for war and urge you to vote against the war funding in this bill. At a minimum, Congress should condition the supplemental funding bill to end US warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and change the proportion of funding allocated to non-military purposes. Rather than calming and stabilizing the situations, continued US warfighting is destabilizing the region and feeding the seeds of extremist violence. Please do not write yet another blank check for war.

Joe Volk is FCNL’s Executive Secretary

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