[Lee] has advocated long and hard for ending America’s state of perpetual war and for reining in the military-industrial complex, and she has had the courage to vote against her own political party on these issues.
By Polly Mann WAMM Newsletter Fall I 2015
U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has a strong track record of voting against war, death and destruction. In 2002, the International Peace Bureau recognized her for the Seán MacBride Peace Prize. But ironically, in the U.S. she was herself a target of death threats. The National Journal reported: “There was a time when Rep. Barbara Lee was accused of treason and got so many death threats for her antiwar politics she needed around-the-clock police protection.” (The National Journal, September 9, 2013)
This past June of 2015, the American Baptist Home Mission Societies awarded Barbara Lee its Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace and Justice Award, the American Baptist Churches USA’s highest recognition, for her “courageous national leadership in the U.S. Congress as well as compassionate Christian witness with and for individuals marginalized in the nation and around the world.” The awarders emphasized her efforts at domestic justice and global peace, rather than her specific opposition to wars, yet it is significant that she was chosen because they could not have missed the clear antiwar positions she has taken. As the National Journal commented: “Times are changing. Now, a decade and two unpopular wars later, the congresswoman who cast the only vote against the war in Afghanistan has moved from the fringe to the forefront, becoming a preeminent voice in the president’s own party against his effort to bomb Syria.”
U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Photo: Barbara Lee website
Still, Lee is not the purist antiwar activists would wish. While advocating for nonmilitary solutions, she has, on occasion in the past, repeated false premises about WMD in Syria and Iran, and she called for the stepping down of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and other foreign leaders of nations targeted for take-over by the U.S. expanding empire—actions that would result in destabilizing functioning societies, something that cannot in any way be excused.
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Never-the-less, Barbara Lee, has continued to be a voice representing her antiwar-prone constituency, the East Bay area of northern California, and argue against bombing and military “solutions.” She has advocated long and hard for ending America’s state of perpetual war and for reining in the military-industrial complex, and she has had the courage to vote against her own political party on these issues. In 1999, Lee voted against authorizing air strikes in Yugoslavia and in favor of a plan to completely withdraw U.S. troops.
She was the only member of either house of Congress to vote against Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) following 9/11—authorization which quickly led to the U.S. war on Afghanistan. In 2002, she voted against the Iraq War Resolution. In 2009, she was one of 36 representatives who refused to condemn the UN’s Goldstone Report, which revealed the Israeli targeting of civilians in Gaza in 2008/2009 (the U.S. had rushed weapons for use by Israel). In 2013, she introduced the Drones Accountability Act in Congress. In 2015, she introduced legislation demanding that Congress has a constitutional obligation to debate and authorize use of military force and define exact parameters in its offensive measures against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
For years now, we have seen a handful of powerful women in Washington proving that they are as aggressive as any man and sometimes even more aggressive as players on the world stage pushing the U.S. to go to war. Isn’t it time to listen to a woman like Barbara Lee who advocates against going to war?
Polly Mann is a regular contributor and columnist for the WAMM newsletter and a co-founder of Women Against Military Madness.
© 2015 Women Against Military Madness.
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