On February 19 ISE Board member Ben Grosscup joined a reported crowd of over 250 at a “town-hall-style” meeting with Senator John Kerry. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported on the event where Ben challenged Sen. Kerry about his support for war funding in Afghanistan during a question and answer period. Here’s Ben’s question posed to Sen. Kerry followed by his statement on Kerry’s response:

“I’m Ben Grosscup and I’m an elected member of Amherst Town Meeting. We passed the Bring the War Dollars Home Resolution last November, calling for an end to any funding for wars that the U.S. is pursuing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These immoral wars are killing innocents and degrading our own country morally. Senator Kerry, you have supported funding for these wars.

Meanwhile we’re told that we don’t have money to keep teacher and programs benefiting the public good. Obama — and not just Bush — and the rest of the Republicans agree on tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the rest.

I believe the Amherst Town Meeting passed this Resolution because many of us believe that Democracy is in crisis, and the choice of many Democrats like yourself to enable the military spells doom for the future of democracy.

How do you defend your record of supporting war funding?
And how can the peace-loving people of Massachusetts rely on you to stop the extreme right-wing that you spoke about when you have failed to stand up to the central reactionary institution of our society — the U.S. Military.”

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Kerry’s Justification of War Spending: Morally Bankrupt & Absurd

The essence of Kerry’s reply to the question I posed to him at the meeting, which can also be heard on WFCR’s piece was that the reason justifying a continued American occupation of Afghanistan is to stop terrorism. Specifically, he said that if U.S. troops were to withdraw and end the occupation, the Karzai government, which by the way is totally corrupt and illegitimate (Kerry did not say this), would fall, and the Taliban would come back to power and Afghanistan would return to being a place where terrorists could operate freely.

First of all, liberal defenders of Empire such as Kerry are morally bankrupt. They argue essentially that things could be worse, so we have to support essentially evil military pursuits, because if we don’t, even greater evils await us. This is a sure ticket to moral nihilism.

Moreover, on the surface, Kerry’s argument is absurd, because it presupposes that it is an acceptable policy to militarily occupy entire countries if threatening terrorist organizations are operating there. By that logic, it would be justifiable for Cuba to militarily occupy Florida as a means of stemming the massive U.S.-sponsored terrorism against Cuba that has been carried out by right-wing Cuban ex-patriots, including Luis Posada Carriles.

Looking deeper, Kerry’s argument is even more absurd. How can he make such claims about Afghanistan without suggesting in the same breath that the U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia, be confronted as a much more important safe-haven for Al Qaida? Of course, we don’t militarily occupy that country. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is the U.S.’s biggest customer of weapons.

Lastly, we must look at the most obvious reason why the U.S. is occupying Afghanistan, namely because of its geostrategic importance for transporting oil from the Central Asian Republics to Pakistan and then the Indian Ocean. It is the drive for strategic control over world oil resources that drives the U.S. to carry out its brutal occupations in Afghanistan. We already knew that was the case in Iraq.

Ben Grosscup – Amherst Town Meeting Member, precinct 9

Click below listen to Grosscup’s question and part of Kerry’s response to it (sorry the recorder was stopped before Kerry finished answering, but this gives you the gist of it:

BEN GROSSCUP KERRY TOWN MEETING

A WFCR public radio audio report of the “town-hall-style” meeting, including an interview with Ben, is available here.

A local ABC-affiliate also did a story available here. Finally, another report from The Republic is available here.