In a 308-114 vote Tuesday the House of Representatives ignored a massive influx of new evidence underscoring the futility of the conflict in Afghanistan, approving a massive new appropriation of emergency war funding.
The vote came just two days after the world was treated to a massive leak of some 92,000 classified documents. The documents provided hundreds of incidents, in excruciating detail, showing just how poorly the war has been going, how many civilians have been killed, and how aware of both of these facts the military has been, despite its official claims to the contrary.
Though a number of the revelations that came to light were hardly secret to the analysts keeping a close eye on the Afghan War, the leaks have brought the grim realities of the war to the public in ways that nothing before ever could. Allegations of CIA assassination teams and massive, unreported civilian casualties are all well and good, but now having the actual documents detailing the events makes them impossible to ignore. Â
And while this is true for the media, it is doubly so for the House of Representatives, which after last Thursday’s rebuke from the Senate faced an all-or-nothing vote to provide some $33 billion in emergency war funds in order to maintain the conflict for the rest of the fiscal year. Â
Indeed, the most damning revelation of all may not be any of the particular incidents, disgraceful though they may be, but the fact that the military understands full well how poorly this conflict is going, even as it continues to tell Congress and the American public to expect blatantly unrealistic progress in the near term. Â
Those of us paying attention knew that the war was going disastrously, and the military has known that the war was going disastrously, but now we know that they know, and that makes all the rhetoric to the contrary seem absurd at best and downright offensive when it comes to shipping tens of thousands of additional soldiers to the windblown hills of Central Asia to kill and be killed. The goals were always ill defined and now it should be clear to everyone that they are unattainable at any rate.
Yet when it came down to it, with all excuses gone, and with no ability to credibly claim the war is anything but an unmitigated disaster, the hawkish members of Congress did what they always do; voted for the war and condemned the leaks on general principle.
And all excuses are gone; no one can claim that they went into this vote with blinders on, or that pledges of impending progress from the military brass overwhelmed common sense. The 308 Congressmen, roughly evenly split between both parties, did the American public, humanity, and common decency a great disservice.
With the war getting worse by the minute, Congress has shrugged off its responsibilities and chosen to defer the decision to pull the plug on this heedless endeavor largely to save face.
But this delay, though it may appeal to some, comes at a dear price, one far beyond the $33 billion price tag attached to the war segment of the bill. Prolonging the war will mean hundreds of additional troops slain in the next few months, and untold thousands of innocent civilians. With all alleged goals out of reach at any rate, can the American public really countenance the cowardice our lawmakers needed to keep this war going?