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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/25/18

Will the new House Dems take on the War Lobby?

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"We must prioritize diplomacy over war. Our interventionist wars in the Middle East have cost thousands of servicemen and trillions of dollars, as well as the deaths of millions of civilians in the attacked countries, to little benefit in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. This must end."

Voting for the war on Iraq should have ended the political careers of the 111 Democrats and 263 Republicans who voted for it. Most of the Democrats have in fact been turfed out or slunk away from Congress since 2002, but not all of them.

Of the 13 Iraq war supporters still holding onto seats in the House, Adam Smith and four others now aspire to powerful leadership positions, even as they all keep taking large campaign contributions from the war lobby.

-- Steny Hoyer (MD-5), who is poised to become House Majority Leader, took $179,983 in arms industry cash in this cycle;

-- Adam Schiff (CA-28), slated to chair the Intelligence Committee, took $80,743 from the war lobby;

-- Nita Lowey (NY-17), who is likely to chair the all-powerful Appropriations Committee, took $79,000;

-- Eliot Engel (NY-16), who aspires to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee, received $41,000 from the arms industry.

CODEPINK and our partners in the progressive movement are calling on Adam Smith and all Democrats who aspire to chair Congressional committees in the new Congress to return campaign contributions from the arms industry and stop accepting them from now on. You can sign our action alert at this link.

Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) had the wisdom to vote against war with Iraq 16 years ago, but she, too, is now backed by the war lobby, to the tune of $51,167 in this cycle.

This may help to explain why Pelosi showed no leadership on the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, the catastrophic results of the Saudi-U.S. war on Yemen. While she condemned the Republican effort to quash a bill to end the US role in the war on Yemen, H Con Res 138, it was only after protests from activist groups that she agreed to be a cosponsor of the bill.

How can we expect the new Democratic House of Representatives to stand up to the war lobby if they choose leaders who voted for the disastrous Iraq war, fail to lead on critical current issues of war, peace and record military spending, and are still in the pay of military-industrial interests?

The young Americans who turned out in record numbers in this election voted for new, progressive leadership. Now it's up to Democrats in Congress to deliver on what they voted for.

*Nicolas J. S. Davies is author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq and a researcher with CODEPINK.

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

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