This week General Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will testify before the House Armed Services Committee and both the Senate Armed Services and the Senate Foreign Relations Committees. What can we expect to hear? More falsely optimistic accounts about the "success" of the surge in Iraq and arguments for why it is important for the U.S. to stay in Iraq.
As if this isn't bad enough, in a few weeks Congress will take up a White House request for $110 billion more to keep the war and occupation going.
It is long past time for Congress to take action and use its power to end this nightmare. It can provide funds needed for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops -- by some calculations those funds have already been appropriated -- but it must stop paying for war.
Fear and excuses -- "we don't have the votes," "the Republicans are too stubborn," "the Democratic leadership will cave," "nothing can happen before the election" -- are the only things standing between our representatives and senators voting their conscience and following their constituents' wishes.
Too many members of Congress have learned to camouflage their actions with critical rhetoric, but in the end they capitulate to the White House.This will happen again unless anti-war activists step up the pressure immediately and make this $110 billion request a contested issue that legislators cannot ignore.
We must not allow Congress to sleepwalk until the next election. If congressional representatives and senators continue to support the war and keep our troops needlessly in Iraq, then we must publicize their record and hold them accountable in November.
Here's what you can do:
1) Sign on to a letter to Rep. John Murtha, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. This letter, initiated by our friends at Win Without War, will be sent to every member of Congress, calling on them to:
Stop funding the war: Give the Pentagon only enough money for the safe and orderly redeployment of US troops out of Iraq;
Support a diplomatic offensive -- as recommended by the Iraq Study Group -- to build a comprehensive solution involving many countries;
Stop funding the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq and military contractors;
Refuse to fund any permanent "security agreement" between President Bush and Iraqi President Maliki unless first approved by Congress and the Iraqi parliament.
2) On Thursday, April 10th, join the nationwide congressional call-in day. Let your representative and senators know that you don't buy the Petraeus line, and they shouldn't either. Tell them to vote no on more funding for the war and occupation in Iraq.
3) Participate in Town Hall meetings that are being organized in congressional districts all around the country. To find out what's happening in your area, or to learn how you can organize one, click here.
4) Throughout this week, call radio talk shows and write letters to the editor explaining why you want the war and occupation in Iraq to end, and why you don't want Congress to allocate more funds.
We are at a critical moment in our efforts to force Congress to act on the will of the people and use its power to end this war and occupation. For all of the hard work we've all been doing, now is the time to re-double our efforts. We cannot quietly sit by and watch another $110 billion be allocated for this war!