$6 Billion for War Should Now Assist Afghan People

Afghans seeking shelter on August 14, 2021 (photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).

"Every last dollar of the $6 billion must be used to help save Afghan lives, not to boost Pentagon contractor profits," said Win Without War.

As U.S. lawmakers fight over how to reappropriate the roughly $6 billion previously budgeted or requested to support the now defeated Afghan security forces, one U.S.-based peace group is urging Congress to use the freed up war money "to help save Afghan lives, not to boost Pentagon contractor profits."

The funds in question "include almost $3 billion unspent from fiscal years 2020 and 2021, and $3.3 billion requested by the Pentagon to train and equip the Afghan army, air force, and national police in 2022," Politico reported earlier this week. "The jockeying among lawmakers to find a new home for that money has begun."

In response, Win Without War has launched a petition imploring members of Congress to reject calls to use the billions of dollars currently earmarked for Afghanistan's erstwhile military to buy "a few more F-35s or bombs" and instead spend the money in ways that ameliorate the war-torn country's growing humanitarian crisis.

"In a moment of immense need for the people of Afghanistan, some in Congress intend to divert billions of dollars originally intended for the now-defunct Afghan security forces to wage more endless war abroad," Kate Kizer, policy director at Win Without War, said this week. "This is an outrage."

"We owe the people of Afghanistan an immeasurable debt," Kizer continued. "Every last dollar of the $6 billion must be used to help save Afghan lives, not to boost Pentagon contractor profits."

"Redirecting these $6 billion to finance evacuations, refugee resettlement, and much-needed humanitarian assistance, for example, could spell the difference between life and death for countless Afghans," she said.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), told Politico that "there's gonna be a food fight. A whole lot of people have been looking at that money now."

Rogers expects that he and HASC Chair Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will agree on reallocating previously approved and proposed funding for the Afghan military to so-called "counterterrorism efforts."

Stephen Miles, executive director at Win Without War, tweeted on Wednesday that "if HASC Democrats or HASC Republicans spend one dime of that $6 billion on ANYTHING other than helping the Afghan people, saving lives, and meeting dual need[s] of refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid they should be beyond ashamed of themselves."

Echoing Miles' message, HASC member Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said that every lawmaker on the committee "who is on television talking about our moral duty to Afghan women and children and Afghan allies should agree to spend this $6 billion on helping the Afghan people."

The Senate Armed Services Committee in July approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the Pentagon's request for $3.3 billion for Afghan security forces, Politico reported. The news outlet added:

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who chairs the committee, is weighing how to handle the funding ahead of a Senate debate on the legislation this fall.

The money would have come on top of the $83 billion the U.S. has already spent to train and equip the Afghan military and security forces over the past two decades. But those forces, however large and well-equipped they were just two weeks ago, no longer exist.

Kizer, meanwhile, stressed that "after two decades of occupation, tens of thousands of lives lost, and millions more displaced, it would be an insult to the people of Afghanistan to turn around and use the funds freed up by their government's collapse to double down on weapons and war."

"The lesson of Afghanistan is that endless war does not work," she added. "Having spent $2 trillion on that lesson, now is our chance to prove we learned it by investing in saving lives, not waging more war."

( Source: Republished under the Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) from Common Dreams. )

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