Despite pessimism that the war in Afghanistan is turning out to be a quagmire, Democrats controlling the House muscled through a plan Thursday to finance President Barack Obama's troop surge, but only after sweetening the measure with last-ditch moves to salvage their faltering jobs agenda.
Long delayed, the approximately $80 billion bill was passed amid building pressure on Democrats to act before their weeklong Fourth of July break begins. But the Senate approved a significantly slimmer measure in May and it'll take additional weeks to reconcile the differences between the two battling chambers.
The crucial vote to advance the measure under unusually convoluted floor rules came on a 215-210 tally to bring up the nearly $60 billion Senate-passed measure for debate. Democrats added more than $20 billion for domestic programs late Thursday, including $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, $5 billion for Pell Grants to low-income college students and $700 million to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
House Republicans supportive of the Afghanistan effort voted against the measure, angered that Democrats were using the must-pass legislation to try to advance unrelated spending.
"The Democrat majority is treating this troop funding bill like a cash-cow for their election-year wish-list," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.
But top Democrats such as Obey and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insisted on adding the domestic dollars, viewing the war funding bill as their last, best shot to resuscitate their faltering jobs agenda. The money was critical to winning support from Democrats frustrated over deepening Senate gridlock that has killed, among other ideas, $24 billion in aid to cash-starved states to help governors avoid tens of thousands of layoffs.
The GOP opposition required Democratic leaders such as Pelosi to round up votes from anti-war lawmakers.
"Every dollar we spend in Afghanistan, every life we waste there, is a waste," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who backed the measure anyway in the crucial vote to bring it up for debate.
"An intelligent policy is not to try to remake a country that nobody since Genghis Khan has managed to conquer. What makes us think, what arrogance gives us the right to assume that we can succeed where the Moguls, the British, the Soviets failed?"
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. makes a tremendous case for voting against the bill yet buckles under pressure from House Speaker Pelosi.
Does anyone have any sense of duty to vote how they feel is right as opposed to how they are instructed to vote.
The worst part of this mess is we are likely to get the worst of both worlds: more ridiculous Pell Grants, more absurd stimulus efforts, and foolishly wasting money attempting "to remake a country that nobody since Genghis Khan has managed to conquer."
Is it any wonder polls show the public is totally fed up with Congress?
Why the West Lost the Afghan War
Please consider Why West Lost Afghan War by Michael Scheuer, the author of ‘Imperial Hubris’ and former chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Issue Station.
Recent events surrounding Afghanistan shouldn’t confuse anyone, as the reality of the situation still lies in one simple statement: The US-NATO coalition has lost a war its political leaders never meant, or knew how, to win.
After nine years, it is utterly impossible to restart Western policy in Afghanistan. Too many Afghans are dead; too many Afghans and non-Afghan Muslims have joined the Taliban-led insurgency; too much pro-Taliban money is pouring into Afghanistan from wealthy donors on the Arabian Peninsula and across the Muslim world; too much Western funding has been stolen and sent abroad by Karzai’s cronies; too much popular support for the war in the West has been squandered; too many U.S.-NATO troops are dead or maimed; too much has been done by the West to push Pakistan toward the abyss by demanding its military do Western dirty work; and too much time has been wasted on counterinsurgency theories and policies that avoid killing the enemy and his civilian supporters. The one thing the West ‘can start over completely’ is a revision of the plans for withdrawal that moves up the departure date.
The bottom line is that the United States and NATO stand defeated in Afghanistan. Under McChrystal, Petraeus, or Obama himself the counterinsurgency strategy now being flogged has been intellectually bankrupt from its inception.
The tragedy of this reality is that it would have taken no highly classified intelligence data or deeply penetrating brain power to predict its occurrence. A week’s reading at the local library about the occupations of Afghanistan by Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union shows each empire was sooner or later defeated and evicted—Alexander lasted longest because he built Greek colonies—by the most basic Afghan trait which has been transparently and overwhelmingly dominant since the 4th century B.C.: Afghans refuse to tolerate foreign occupation and rule.
We should declare the war won and get the hell out. Instead, even Democrats who fully understand how stupid this war is, are willing to vote for it after pressure from Pelosi. Is this insane or what?