Somebody's got to get after their Congress man or woman. Why not me? So I went on line and found that my Congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, has satellite office hours during the first week of the month where constituents can meet with staff. So I went and had a discussion with his rep regarding McCotter's support for $37 billion in war funding, passed recently. Very pleasant. I made several claims and told her I would provide the sources for her. Below is the email I sent her as a follow up.
Hi Melissa. It was good talking with you today at the library. I'd like to provide some of the sources for my claims and try to understand our purposes for the substantial war funding in Afghanistan.
And I'd like to point out that I did vote for Thaddeus in November of 2008 even though I was unwilling to vote for McCain (or Obama for that matter). I don't agree with him on a lot of things, but I was encouraged to see him vote against the banker bailouts twice. It says to me that he is not unwilling to stand against the few powerful interests in favor of the voice of the people, and I hope that he will consider doing that with regards to these wars as well.
The 37 billion dollar war funding bill is described here. I have difficulty understanding our purposes there. According to Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, there is at most 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (see here). This means that this war amounts to about a billion dollars per year per Al Qaeda operative. That works out to about $500/yr for a family of 4, which I represent. My next door neighbor is unemployed and has been for a couple of years. He has a family of 4. At what point do you consider if it is in the best interest of your constituents to fund this war at these cost levels? It's doubly confusing in that the Taliban offered to hand OBL over to a third party to avert war. See the Washington Post reporting here.
The concern of course is security. If you read Robert Pape's "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" you find that based upon an analysis of the data foreign military occupation is the primary driving force of suicide terrorism. If you look here you'll find that an analysis of RAND corporation data shows that the Iraq invasion has had the effect of increasing terrorism worldwide seven fold. You also find that this was in fact the prediction of the intelligence agencies prior to the invasion. Based on this it would seem that increased peace and security cannot be the motivation of the invasions, since it would be expected to have the opposite effect.
We discussed democracy in the Middle East, and I very much agree that it should be promoted. We know the desires of the Iraqi people. Let me quote Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post.
"Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month. "
Take a look at these polling results from 2005. 82% of Iraqi's strongly oppose the presence of coalition troops. They do not want US troops to remain in the country. Why is that? Actually we know exactly why and we've known for a long time. In fact you can go all the way back to Eisenhower, who commissioned studies of his own to determine why they hate us. He learned that "there's a campaign of hatred against us in the Middle East - not by governments but by the people". He asked the National Security Council to look into the matter, and they gave their analysis as follows: "there's a perception in the region that the US is supporting corrupt, brutal, and harsh regimes, and is blocking democratization and development, and is doing so because of our interest in controlling the oil reserves in the region. It's difficult to counter this accusation because it's accurate. It is natural for us to support status quo governments and to prevent democracy because we want to maintain control over the energy resources of the region."
The Wall St Journal did a study which was released on September 12, 2001 that basically came to the same conclusions.
So in light of the evidence that these wars are costly to the constituents of Oakland county, that the wars themselves are the chief cause of violence directed against the United States, and that the evidence shows that if democracy were to be promoted in the Middle East we'd listen to the victims and withdraw forces, I would like to understand the rationale for a vote authorizing $37 billion in war funding? Why not rather push for troop withdrawal? It makes Americans safer, makes us more prosperous, and would promote democratic ideals.
Please pass these questions on to Thaddeus, and I look forward to discussing this with you further.