CODEPINK calls on House to vote "no" on $94.2 billion war supplemental

May 14th, 2009

IMMEDIATE RELEASE        May 14, 2009     CONTACT
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, 508-769-2138
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517

CODEPINK calls on House to vote "no" on $94.2 billion war supplemental

WASHINGTON -- CODEPINK Women for Peace calls on the House today to vote down Pres. Obama's request for an additional $94.2 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a supplemental that will further destabilize the Middle East and Central Asia, threaten worldwide security and drain billions of tax-payer dollars at a time of sky-high unemployment and economic crisis.

The supplemental, without an exit strategy, clearly recycles failed Bush administration policies. It will continue to fuel the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, increasing their numbers (as outlined by many military strategists and think tanks). It will also lead to more civilian deaths -- a United Nations report released earlier this year found the Afghan civilian death toll nearly doubled in 2008 under U.S. presence, with the U.S. responsible for almost half the deaths. In addition, increased American troop presence to 68,000 by year's end will further alienate Afghans who increasingly view the U.S. as an occupying force. The number of Afghan people who believe the U.S. has performed well dropped this year to 32 percent from 68 percent in 2005, military scholar Anthony Cordesman told a Congressional hearing.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, through a series of hearings of the past several weeks with U.S., Afghan, and Pakistan military advisers, concluded that the supplemental "exacerbates" failed strategies by funding predominately military ($84 billion) with only $10 billion for economic development, institution building, local community funding and skills training. This contradicts Gen. Petraeus' counter-insurgency doctrine of 80% non-military and 20% military.

“When it comes to war, the people voted for change, not for Bush-lite,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. “Congress should move Obama to a surge in negotiations and away from war, not a continuation of the disastrous militaristic approach of the Bush era.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, the cost of the Iraq war has now surpassed — in inflation-adjusted dollars — the cost of the Vietnam War. With the new supplemental, the six-year Iraq War will have cost the U.S. taxpayer over $700 billion — not counting all the related costs such as the ongoing health care for veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the war, which put the bill over $1 trillion. The surge in Afghanistan will lead to hundreds of billions poured into another unwinnable war that is quickly losing public support. A USA Today/Gallup Poll in March found 42 percent of Americans felt the Afghanistan war was "a mistake," an increase of 30 percent earlier this year and 34 percent in August 2008.

"It is outrageous that Congress will pass another blank check for what most believe is a military quagmire," said Gael Murphy of CODEPINK and United for Peace and Justice. "Progress toward peace can only come from an authentic and compassionate US diplomacy."

Instead of a supplemental for military action, CODEPINK calls for a reallocation of war funds into the needs of the American and Afghan people: health care, education and infrastructure, a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the closing of bases, and tireless diplomatic engagement with key players within Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For more information, please call Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, at 508-769-2138 or Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517.