Democratic Party Weighs Afghanistan Withdrawal Resolution
By Mike Copass at Liberty One Media
SAN DIEGO — While the Administration mulls four different levels of troop escalation in Afghanistan, the California Democratic Party today presented a very different position, as the party took a step towards rejecting any further U.S. military expansion in the war-torn Central Asian republic. On Saturday, a committee of the party’s executive board voted in support of a resolution which calls for an end to the 8-year military intervention in Afghanistan, including demands for a cessation of the aerial bombing campaign.
This stance represents the first significant opposition to the Administration’s current Afghanistan military policy from within the President’s own political party.
Noting that polls “show a majority of Americans are increasingly disturbed about the toll” of wounded and traumatized American troops, the resolution renews the call for a time-table for a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces, adding a demand to “end to the use of mercenary contractors, as well as an end to the air war on civilian populations, and urges our President to oversee a redirection of our funding and resources to include an increase in humanitarian and developmental aid.” (full text can be found here.)
The testimony of war veteran Rick Reyes was seen by many as instrumental to building broad support for the policy position. The former U.S. Marine Reyes declared his concerns that the policies of the last eight years have failed. “There is no military solution in Afghanistan. The problems in Afghanistan are social problems that a military cannot fix.”
Reyes, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, told the committee:
“We dishonor the patriotism and the sense of justice of our brave men and women by sending them to fight, proclaiming that they sacrifice for democracy and national security when really they struggle and die in support of nothing more than a proven criminal regime.”
After his testimony to the Democratic Party’s executive board, Corporal Reyes spoke to the Progressive Caucus, citing his recent experience meeting with legislators in Washington D.C. The 29-year old former Marine urged members of Congress to rethink their Afghanistan positions before approving any further emergency appropriations. Reyes’ lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill were joined by former female Afghanistan Parliament member Malalai Joya.
A native of Los Angeles, Reyes served tours of duty in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. Reyes had previously testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 23, 2009 — precisely 38 years to the date after a young Vietnam veteran named John Kerry posed his own question to the Senate, “How do you ask a person to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Reyes is motivated by his concerns for the safety and well-being of his fellow Marines. “Congress must hear more voices like ours before escalating this war any further. More veterans need to speak out.”
The Afghanistan resolution’s co-authors are prominent members of the Democratic Party of California, and include Progressive Caucus Chair Karen Bernal and Congressional Candidate Marcy Winograd. Joined by the party’s Women’s Caucus, Bernal and Winograd held a forum called “Exiting Afghanistan,” featuring clips from the new Robert Greenwald documentary “Rethink Afghanistan.” Resolution co-author and journalist Norman Solomon also recounted his experience meeting with displaced Afghanis living in a wretched refugee camp outside of Kabul. Solomon, a Sonoma County resident, served as a delegate for Barack Obama at the party’s 2008 nominating convention in Denver.
Having passed through the resolutions committee successfully, the timely Afghanistan de-escalation resolution now goes to a Sunday floor vote of the Democratic party’s executive board.