Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Would you like to sign on to our letter to Rep. Sarbanes? Can you help deliver the letter on April 18 at 4:30 PM? See the response to our March 2012 letter.

Rep. John Sarbanes

600 Baltimore Ave.

Suite 303

Baltimore, MD 21204


April 17, 2012


Dear Congressperson Sarbanes:


Progressive Democrats of America and its partners, including the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, launched the Brown Bag Vigil campaign in January 2010. We've met at district offices of senators and representatives as part of this ongoing national effort. Today, we ask you to support legislation for Healthcare NOT Warfare. We are citizen activists in our community, and your response will be shared with our colleagues.   

The foreign policy disaster which began with the invasion of Afghanistan continues.  The loss of life and destruction must stop as soon as possible. The Congressional Research Service estimates that the war there has cost $321 billion to date (again, in 2011 dollars), not including hundreds of billions more when post-war expenses like veterans' benefits come due. The World Bank estimates that when the war began in 2001 the Afghan population was 27 million. Again, if their average family size is also five, we have already spent $59,444 per family. If we had given that amount to each, or provided, say, a new pick-up truck and a free college education for one of their daughters, we would not now be bogged down in a war that all agree cannot be won.

And we can't afford war with Iran. We urge you to join the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, and to cosponsor and support HR 780, Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to fund the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan; and HR 4173, Rep. Lee’s "Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act."


Healthcare is a human right. We urge you to cosponsor and support legislation to guarantee healthcare for all: HR 676, Rep. John Conyers’s bill to establish an improved and expanded Medicare for All program; and HR 1200, Rep. Jim McDermott’s American Health Security Act of 2011 to deliver universal health care coverage.


We look forward to your response. And when you are ready, we would like to meet with you, preferably in Baltimore. But if necessary, we will travel to your D.C. office.  Thank you for your time and attention.




Max Obuszewski, on behalf of Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore/Fund Our Communities




April 13, 2012


Dear Mr. Obuszewski:


Thank you for contacting me to express your views about the war in Afghanistan.  I always appreciate hearing from individuals who carefully follow the legislative proceedings of Congress.


I was deeply saddened to hear about the killing of two American International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers at a joint Afghanistan-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Khandahar Province last month. Last year, I participated in a six-day trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.  I came away, as all do, tremendously impressed by the commitment of American soldiers and civilians to executing their mission.  The daring raid they executed on Osama bin Laden's compound reinforced that impression.  His death is a significant blow to al-Qa'ida and a credit to the tremendous dedication of the American military, the intelligence community, and our national security leadership.  I hope his demise will help turn the page on a dark chapter for the families of the victims of 9/11, the American people, and people of good will everywhere.  


The question before us now is whether our civilian leadership should continue to pursue the current course in Afghanistan, or if the military and our national security are better served by a different strategy.  President Obama pledged to begin the withdrawal of American troops in July 2011 and to complete the transition to Afghan-led forces by the end of 2014.  Most observers predict that the first troop reduction will be little more than a token gesture.  That moves the debate to whether maintaining a major troop presence in Afghanistan for an additional two and a half years can achieve our stated goals and, even if it can, whether it is worth the additional cost in American lives and treasure.  


H.R. 780, the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, would prohibit any funds available to armed forces in Afghanistan to be used for any purpose other than the safe and orderly withdrawal of all US military personnel and defense contractors. H.R. 780 was referred to the House Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs. Although I am not a member of these committees, I will be sure to keep your views in mind when the House of Representatives considers this or relevant legislation in the future.


Again, I appreciate your passionate advocacy on this critical issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance to you.



John Sarbanes

Member of Congress

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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