A Call to the New President and Congress
Last November, the people of the United States and the people of Larimer County clearly expressed a desire for a different approach to the governance of our country than we’ve seen for the past eight years. We, the undersigned residents of Larimer County, call upon the new President and the new Congress to begin work immediately on the following goals:
- Withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq, except for a small contingent necessary to protect the U.S. embassy, within the next 16 months. The U.S. government should provide resettlement and reconstruction aid, with Iraqi manufacturers and contractors playing the primary role in rebuilding their country. Non-Iraqi contractors should play at most a secondary role in the reconstruction effort.
- Withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan, except for a small contingent necessary to protect the U.S. embassy, within the next 16 months. If the Soviet Union, invading from next door over a long common border, was unable to impose its will on Afghanistan for long, it is unlikely that the U.S. will be able to do so indefinitely from halfway around the world. Prior to withdrawal, our military efforts should be focused on bringing the remaining architects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to justice. The U.S. government should also provide reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.
- Redirection of public funds used to pay for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and from the regular military budget towards meeting critical needs at home, including rebuilding our infrastructure, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and addressing the crisis in healthcare. U.S. military spending is nearly equal to the military spending of all other countries combined. We need to be smarter about the way we invest our resources to keep our nation secure, and to recognize that security does not come from weapons and other military hardware alone.
- Redirection of remaining public funds approved for the financial bailout package towards an economic stimulus package putting the unemployed and underemployed back to work. Much of the bailout money spent so far has enabled banks to acquire other banks, pay dividends to their shareholders, and pay bonuses to their executives. Putting people back to work to meet critical needs such as those outlined in item #3 above will be far more likely to get our economy moving forward.
- Commitment to aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to less than 350 parts per million. Global climate change may be the gravest threat facing our nation and the world. The U.S. must join in a cooperative manner with the world's nations to address this common threat, through binding treaties and technology sharing. We must make investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing atmospheric accumulations above which the best available science considers safe. Addressing global climate change will also create new jobs and contribute to energy security.
- Restoration of all constitutional rights compromised by passage of the misnamed USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and numerous executive orders since 2001. In recent years, we have witnessed the erosion of constitutionally protected rights including habeas corpus, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, privacy, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and due process. Laws and executive orders conflicting with the U.S. Constitution must be modified or repealed as speedily as possible.
- Passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Immigration legislation must offer a path to citizenship, provide for work visas, and strive to keep families together. At the same time, negotiating international trade and investment agreements that foster broad-based economic development for our trading partners would lessen the need for people to immigrate to the U.S.
An abbreviated version of this statement appeared in Fort Collins Now on January 22nd, 2009. It was signed by 111 people.
Strength Through Peace met with Senator Mark Udall’s Colorado Director of Constituent Services for International Issues on February 12th, 2009. We asked for a written response to points 1, 2, 3, and 6 of the “Call”. We received that response in early June of 2009. To view Senator Udall’s response, click here
Strength Through Peace met with Senator Michael Bennet’s North Central Regional Director on March 24th, 2009. We asked for a written response to points 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the “Call.” We still have not received a response from Senator Bennet.
Strength Through Peace met with Congresswoman Betsy Markey on May 26th, 2009. We focused on points 1 and 2 of the “Call”, and asked her to oppose the then-upcoming supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq and Afghanistan unless it devoted 40% of its funding to humanitarian aid. On June 16th, 2009, Congresswoman Markey voted for the final version of the appropriations bill, which dedicated less than 3% of its funding for Iraq and Afghanistan to humanitarian aid. Senators Udall and Bennet also voted for this version of the appropriations bill.