Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What is the Iraq/Recession Campaign?

by: Harry Waisbren

From the beginning, my inspiration to work to establish a strong Campus Progress chapter at UW stemmed from my excitement over the Iraq/Recession campaign (the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq only came out afterwards). This campaign is a $15 million nationwide effort to end the war and refocus our priorities here at home, and it is designed to raise awareness of the domestic costs that have been neglected due to Bush and John McCain’s singular focus on Iraq. I am especially excited as I believe our Campus Progress chapter can make a major impact by helping spread this message into our mainstream political discourse.

The campaign is supported by both John and Elizabeth Edwards, who are joined by quite the impressive coalition. This includes progressive organizations like MoveOn, the Center for American Progress Action Fund , US Action, SEIU, VoteVets, and Americans United for Change.

Campus Progress is the student arm of the Center for American Progress, but we plan on helping out with as many Iraq/Recession initiatives as we can. This issue is just too important, as our media is currently ignoring the reality that many of the essential reforms our country desperately needs can not be embarked upon while we remain bogged down in Iraq. With a McCain administration or with a continuing occupation of Iraq, this will remain the case.

This is the true cost of war, and it has certainly had a major impact on the lives of college students. This is money that could be spent on such priorities as additional college scholarships, aiding students with student loans, providing affordable health care, and creating new jobs by seriously addressing climate change. Furthermore, far too many members of our generation have had their lives lost or ruined due to the gross negligence of this administration, betraying any reasonable definition for what "supporting the troops" could possibly entail. Supporting the troops means a lot more than refusing to deny them people to shoot at, and I believe Kurt Vonnegut summed it up best when he said:

By saying that our leaders are power drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
This is an argument that needs to be taken to John McCain and all other Iraq war supporters as they will continue to waste our money and our soldiers' sacrifices indiscriminately if we do not. Our main target for this message is the media as, quite fortuantely, Americans are already on board.

71 percent of Americans already believe that the “U.S. spending in Iraq is a reason for the nation’s poor economy.” Americans are fed up with this country's direction, and it must be emphasized that John McCain will mean another Bush term. It means we will continue to waste blood and treasure with no return, and if it is explained to Americans in this fashion, we will find out that they already agree that they want their money better spent.

This country needs a change of priorities. Our values must return to a place where the suffering of American citizens takes precedence over Haliburton raking in Billions despite a recession, or Exxon Mobile ranking as the most profitable company for a fifth year straight. And while the national unemployment rate increases by 13.6 percent (in seasonally adjusted terms from 4.4 to 5.0 percent), the only jobs being created are for the administration’s defense contractor allies. This can be seen in Bush’s most recent budget, which is a windfall for contractors. This isn't a new development either, as between 2000 and 2005 procurement was the “fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending.” (Halliburton has been the biggest beneficiary of the administration’s generosity.)

College students do not need jobs as mercenaries---we need our friends in the military to come home. And they need to come home for themselves, as they will be facing the same economic realities as we are upon their return. We have a moral obligation to our soldiers, to our fellow citizens, and to ourselves to work to ensure that our country addresses this interconnected issue of misplaced priorities. We must address the causes of the war in Iraq, the causes for these misplaced priorities, and the causes of this immoral direction our country has taken all at once by empoying a Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

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