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Who Will Rein in the War in Afghanistan?

Why we need congressional oversight hearings now more than ever.

“We are asking here in Washington for some action, action from the Congress of the United States of America which has the power to raise and maintain armies, and which by the Constitution also has the power to declare war.  We have come here, not to the President, because we believe that this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and we believe that the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.”

Those were the emotional words of a 27-year-old John Kerry, dressed in green fatigues, Silver Star, and Purple Heart ribbons as he shocked the country with his antiwar testimony before a crowded Senate Foreign Relations committee in 1971.  Kerry’s fiery thirty-minute condemnation of the war became instantly legendary for questioning the reasons our military was in Vietnam; revealing the fact that the nation had turned its back on veterans; and slamming President Nixon for refusing to pull out.

It was a definitive moment for the antiwar movement made possible because chairman William Fulbright called Kerry to testify.  Thirty-eight years later, Senator Kerry now sits in Fulbright’s seat.  Along with Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry has the power to focus the national spotlight on a similar quagmire, the war in Afghanistan.  And as the Obama administration just committed an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $775,000 per soldier every year, oversight hearings can’t come soon enough.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.