Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our Congressperson takes a stand against spending billions for more war

Unless I missed it, there was no mention in yesterday's Austin American-Statesman about the vote taken Thursday by the US House approving (368 to 60) supplemental funding to the tune of $96.7 billion for continuing the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan -- with no exit plan for Afghanistan.
I was very pleased to learn that Congressman Lloyd Doggett voted against the supplemental funding bill. But, he was the only Texas Democrat to do so.
CodePink activists who lobbied hard in Washington DC quoted Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston telling them Thursday, "I must tell you ladies that I voted for the bill this time but I don't feel good about it and I plan to revisit this. I want to thank you for being out here and tell you that you need to keep doing what you're doing. Keep the pressure on -- in fact, turn it up. That's the only way we'll ever get out of these wars."

On Wednesday, I joined a group of 9 local people representing several peace and justice organizations in a visit to Lloyd Doggett's office to meet with his District Director to express our concerns about continued military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three of the people in our delegation have been to Iraq and/or Afghanistan in recent years. Peggy Kelsey, who has done a photodocumentary project focused on Afghan women, told Mr. Doggett's staff that she felt what would be most helpful to the Afghan people would be assistance in the form of mentoring in civil society, "sort of like a Peace Corps for old people," she said. Afghanistan has experienced more than a generation of societal breakdown in the midst of war, and people-to-people role-modeling in areas such as health, education and business, upon invitation, could be a positive influence that would help provide stability from the ground up.

Members of our delegation agree that continued use of weapons like predator drones that have killed so many civilians only increases instability in the region and escalates retributive violence. War -- and even uncarefully distributed humanitarian aid -- has led to widespread corruption, and we are worried about US plans regarding the opium industry in Afghanistan. People need alternative crops that can be stored and transported well. We oppose anti-drug measures like aerial spraying with herbicides because it is very harmful to people and the environment.
I am grateful to Congressman Doggett for hearing our concerns and for standing firm with his vote against buying more war.

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