Maryland residents hail Rep. Edwards anti-war stand

Leaders of 23 Maryland-based organizations wrote to Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) thanking her for her “courage and foresight” in voting May 13th against the $96.7 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The letter dated May 27th, and initiated by Baltimore United for Peace and Justice (BUPJ), commends Edwards, a freshman member of Congress for traveling to Afghanistan just before the vote “and observing first hand that there is no military solution to the crisis there.”

The letter continued, “We agree with you when you said this package means ‘war without end’ placing our soldiers in harms way without a plan for being there or a strategy for leaving Afghanistan.”

BUPJ is affiliated with United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) which appealed this week to its affiliates to mobilize phone calls and visits to lawmakers offices urging them to vote “no” on final passage of the Iraq-Afghanistan Supplemental. After negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile differences in the two versions of the measure “both the House and Senate will have an additional opportunity to vote once more on the bill, perhaps as early as next week,” says the UFPJ message. “They need to hear from us again. These funding requests will keep coming back – and every time they do, our legislators need to hear from their constituents that we want to end these wars.” The House voted 368 to 60 in favor of the Iraq-Afghanistan Supplemental.

UFPJ is soliciting signatures for a letter to the House Progressive Caucus urging them to lead the fight against open-ended war spending. (Individuals and groups can sign the letter by sending an email tono later than 12 noon, Monday June 1.)

The House Progressive Caucus, of which Edwards is a member, urged that 80 percent of U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan be programmed for “peaceful development” and 20 percent for the military and war. “Yet the package approved May 13 allocates 90 percent for the military and only 10 percent to help the Afghan people develop their economy, health, education, and physical infrastructure,” the letter to Edwards states.

The spending package is “especially ill-conceived when millions of working people here at home, including Maryland, are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care,” the letter continues. The message commends President Obama for his “strong efforts” to get the nation out of the worst economic crisis in 80 years. “But all our efforts to pull the nation out of this crisis are put at risk by endless wars that bleed our nation both in human lives and tax dollars.”

It concludes, “We need a foreign policy based on mutual interests, mutual respect, not war, weapons, domination and exploitation. We are proud that you are leading the fight for that new, enlightened foreign policy.”

Signers include Jean Athey, leader of Peace Action, Montgomery County, Kevin Martin, National Executive Director, Peace Action, Jim Baldridge Vietnam Veterans Against the War, John Oliver, Baltimore Chapter, Veterans for Peace (VFP), Rev. Pierre Williams, VFP National Board Member, Rev. Heber Brown, III, Pastor, Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, Donna Blackwell, President, Winston-Govans Neighborhood Improvement Association, Gwen DuBois, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Diane Witter, founder, Chesapeake Citizen, Gary Gillespie, Director, Baltimore Urban Peace Program of the American Friends Service Committee, Andre Powell, AFSCME Delegate to the Baltimore Metro Council, AFL-CIO, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte of the Jonah House Community, and Max Obuszewski, Pledge of Resistance Baltimore.

BUPJ is keeping the list open and already more individuals have asked that their names be added.