Dear Congressman Mike McCaul…

Posted: June 18, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The following is an email I sent to my U.S. Representative, Mike McCaul, on June 3rd. So far, no response.

Congressman McCaul:

In your 2009 Memorial Day speech, you said:

My God is one of love, not one that condones the killing of innocent people.

I am glad to agree with you on this point, sir, and I commend you for saying so in public. As a fellow Christian, I want to know what you personally will do to avoid continued U.S.-caused civilian deaths in Afghanistan. As you know, the total number of civilians killed in the recent incident in Bala Baluk ranges from 30 (U.S. estimate) to more than 100 (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission). Today’s New York Times reports that, “A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American military official.”

I understand you have strongly held views about our country’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that we likely disagree on a great deal about U.S. foreign policy. I am also fully aware that the Taliban have no qualms about killing civilians, nor would they hesitate to attempt to bait us into doing so for propaganda purposes. However, because we *know* these things, simply shrugging our shoulders and protesting loudly that they baited us into it will not do. We know this is their tactic and we must account for it.

Counterinsurgency doctrine as is currently on the books for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps requires that we accept a higher risk of military casualties if necessary to prevent civilian deaths. (It’s on page xxvii of the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual and repeated throughout, if you need a citation.) The captain on the ground who ordered the airstrikes, according to NPR’s Tom Bowman, said “had he not called in those airstrikes, he definitely would have lost Marines.” Sir, this is a clear indication that we continue to make decisions from a “force protection” rather than a “civilian protection” mindset, which is directly contrary to the basic assumptions of a counterinsurgency campaign as spelled out in the manual. If this doctrine is the guiding rationale for our effort there, as has been conveyed on numerous occasions by numerous generals and U.S. officials, I want to know what you personally will do to ensure that this doctrine actually guides the tactical and strategic decisions of our forces. If we are not willing to muster the will to execute this doctrine after we’ve used it as a rationale to increase troop levels, we are wasting blood and treasure and should end our presence in that country at the earliest possible date.

But more importantly–no Christian school of thought can countenance the death of non-combatants. As you know, Christian just war theory is very stringent, and killings in combat that violate it are deadly serious. The military analysis mentioned above makes it clear that our tactics violate both the discrimination and proportionality just war criteria. Shrugging off these casualties with a comparison to the relative viciousness of our enemies is insufficient. Your invocation of a God of love requires more than that, and as your constituent, I’d like to know how you personally will act to protect those in the crossfire of our nation’s fight with insurgents in Afghanistan.

I understand you and your legislative staff are very busy and will be tempted to respond to this email with a form response. However, given the weight of the issue, I’d appreciate a response that directly responds to the points made above.

Please accept my warm wishes for you and your family.  Thank you for your time.

  1. Sadly, a McCaul Constituent says:

    Love the letter, but doubt you’ll ever hear back, as you haven’t said what McCaul and his staff want to hear.

  2. dcrowe says:

    You may be right. Fortunately, as a former congressional staffer myself, I know how to *really* annoy them. 🙂 So at least I will entertain myself.

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