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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

President persists despite dissent in disastrous foreign, domestic policy precedents

Washington disconnect continues to ignore common-sense opposition
Telling moments in today’s Democracy Now conversation with U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva
Editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett

Pro-war’s inordinate influence

Amy Goodman’s Question to U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona):

“I think a lot of people across the political spectrum are wondering why the issue of war is not raised more — not only because of what it’s [war is] doing to young and not-so-young men and women in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, but what it is doing to our economy.

“Given the rising dissent around war in this country, Republican and Democrat, why isn’t cutting the Pentagon [war/defense expense] front-and-center, even in these [austerity/“entitlements”- cutting] talks?

U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva’s response:

“I think that the interests, the very limited interests — whether it is the insurance company, whether it’s the banking institutions, whether it’s the military-industrial complex — have enormous leverage and weight — because of the contributions they make to members of Congress.”

The consequence of that inordinate influence is that those issues of war, costs and consequences of war are not dealt with.

“… The opposition to these wars, their demand that we get out of there [Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia] and not only save young men and women, but also be more fiscally responsible and save …  to be able to reinvest in our people here in this country — this position is very, very strong across the nation.

[However], “why it is not being talked up [in the U.S. Congress and White House] as a technique to bring us to some sort of fiscal sanity is [because of] the inordinate and the strong influence of that [defense, banking, insurance] lobby.”

War priorities over people— wrong-equation precedent

AG: “U.S. Unemployment is up again, now at 9.2 percent. In minority communities — in African-American communities, we are talking about 30 percent; we are talking as high as 50 percent, even higher in some areas.”

Congressman Raúl Grijalva responds

A county in my district, Yuma [Arizona], “leads the nation with a 27.9 unemployment rate — probably now approaching 30 percent. In poor areas and communities of color, that percentage is triple the [reported] national average, if not more; that’s where the hurt is going on.

“We have not intervened in creating a real jobs program. I had trouble with that stimulus bill, which I voted against, because it invested nothing in real job creation. Until the government becomes part of [making investments in real jobs creation], we are going to have this problem.

“We are doing the same fiscal policy we’ve done for 10 years — trickle down. We give the tax breaks that will be the job creators [and] we have 10 years of no job growth in this country.” Since 2000, “we have lost two million jobs and added 30 million people to the population of this nation.

“That equation is wrong. It foretells tougher economic times and government needs to intervene. Government needs to create public works jobs and put people to work.”

Sources and notes

“Debt Lock: Will Obama Make Cuts to Social Security and Medicare?” July 12, 2011,http://www.democracynow.org/

Raúl M. Grijalva (1948 - )

Born in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva was elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Eighth Congress and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 2003-present). With Representative Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Before entering the U.S. Congress, he was Pima County, Arizona, supervisor (1989-2002) and member of the Tucson, Arizona, Unified School Board (1974-1986). His undergraduate credential was taken at the University of Arizona (Tucson).

Notes from Representative Grijalva’s issues and concerns web pages

Iraq and Afghanistan
“End War and Occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan”

In Afghanistan, we must begin to shift to strategies that do not simply provoke and then attack nationalist and tribal resistance.

We cannot continue to support a corrupt, unreliable government that the population increasingly resents.

No outside influences can create a peaceful or stable Afghanistan if they are seen as foreign occupiers and the central government has no legitimacy. Therefore, we must seek to negotiate an end to this war with all forces willing to renounce al-Qaeda and build a stable Afghanistan.…

Many of the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks, including Osama bin Laden, have been apprehended or brought to justice. This was the initial reason for our invasion of Afghanistan. At this point, it is clear that any remaining 9/11 conspirators have fled the country.

Our continued military presence in Afghanistan lacks a convincing national security rationale, and adding more troops with no sense of what we hope to accomplish risks creating a deepening quagmire.


Rep. Grijalva has consistently opposed the tragic and devastating decision to invade and occupy Iraq. The costs of the war to both Americans and Iraqis in terms of lives and bodies, money and material, families and communities, have been far too great. It is past time to bring our troops home from Iraq and end the occupation.

An Illegal, Unconstitutional War

The war in Iraq is illegal and unconstitutional. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, ‘all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.’

One such treaty is the UN Charter, which says that all use of force is illegal unless expressly authorized by the Security Council, or is to preempt an IMMINENT attack, as in the case of tanks about to roll over an international border, or missiles about to launch.

The invasion of Iraq was not in response to an imminent attack, nor was it authorized by the Security Council, and is therefore both illegal and unconstitutional.

The so-called ‘Authorization to Use Military Force,’ passed after September 11 [2001], was not a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution, and does not in any way refer to Iraq. It refers to nations, organizations, or persons we believe to have ‘planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.’

Iraq had nothing to do with September 11 and its ‘WMD’ stockpiles had been destroyed or degraded and the overall program incapacitated. Many knowledgeable authorities laid out these facts before the war; and since the fall of the [Saddam] Hussein regime, their case has been thoroughly vindicated and documented in numerous reports — including in the Iraq Survey Group.

Bringing Our Troops Home — No Permanent Bases in Iraq

Rep. Grijalva believes it is far past time to bring our troops home from Iraq beyond the minimum necessary to protect our Embassy (not the entire Green Zone) and vow not to retain any military bases. He was very glad to see language reflecting this policy adopted in the Defense and State Appropriations bills as well as the Defense Authorization, which were all signed by President Obama.

[Rep. Grijalva ] remains insistent that any agreements with the Iraqi government proposed by the Administration do not undermine our Constitution, especially the duties and prerogatives vested in Congress. He will continue to demand that we bring our troops home to their families and a grateful nation as soon as possible.

Accountability for Contractors, Private Security Firms, and Mercenaries

Our military’s increasing reliance on private firms for many missions and tasks traditionally performed by our nation’s men and women in uniform should be of concern for all those who care about financial accountability, human rights, and our nation’s security.

So-called private security firms, such as the former Blackwater, now known as Xe, appear to be running roughshod over American and Iraqi law, creating more enemies for our soldiers while being paid much more than our brave men and women in uniform. In addition to atrocities such as the Nisour Square Massacre that killed 17 Iraqi civilians, serious and credible allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in contracting have been steadily surfacing.

Contractors should not be insulated from law or afforded protections unavailable to [U.S.] soldiers.…  

Because Rep. Grijalva feels that our military’s dependence on private contractors in Iraq and elsewhere demands accountability, serious investigation and reform of this abuse-prone system, he cosponsored the Stop Outsourcing Security Act (HR 4102 in the 110th Congress, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois), to phase out the use of private military contractors. http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=91&sectiontree=4,74,91


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