Kevin B. Zeese / Voters for Peace – 2009-03-15 21:31:01
• Take action to cut the military budget and end the wars @ http://www.votersforpeace.us/takeaction.html
(March 16, 2009) — The media is reporting that President Obama will make a final decision on his Afghanistan strategy next week. He is faced with widespread evidence of failure and a history of a country that has proven time and again to be “the grave yard of empires.” It is time to bring US troops home.
The Afghan war will decrease US security, result in the deaths of US soldiers and Afghanis, and further drain the US budget. The slow withdrawal from Iraq has barely begun and the timetable will take almost as long as all of World War I – if the deadline is not extended. US troops are overextended and exhausted.
Afghanistan is a bigger challenge than Iraq. Iraq is 168,000 square-miles, with a population of 26 million. Afghanistan is 250,000 square miles with 30 million people. Pakistan adds over 310,000 square miles and 162 million people to the equation.
Voters for Peace joins with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows in urging an alternative, non-military strategy. Take this opportunity to write President Obama, provide him a link to their report and make the following points that summarize their report.
• Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ and copy the material below in their comment form while adding your own comments. Tell the president to end the war.
Ten Reasons to End the Occupation of Afghanistan
• 1. US and NATO occupation creates civilian casualties, angering Afghans.
• 2. Military occupation has hampered humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.
• 3. Afghan women continue to face violence and oppression under the occupation.
• 4. US policy has empowered warlords, drug lords and the Taliban.
• 5. The occupation contributes to violence and destabilization for ordinary Afghans, including refugees.
• 6. NATO allies and military leaders are questioning the occupation.
• 7. US troop casualties in Afghanistan are on the rise.
• 8. Afghans are calling for a negotiated end to the war.
• 9. Military escalation will only increase the violence, and potentially lead to a wider war involving nuclear-armed Pakistan.
• 10. Military occupation of Afghanistan does not curb terrorism.
Recommendations for a Changed US Policy
• 1. Set a swift timetable for the withdrawal of US and NATO military forces, to be substituted by UN forces for short-term security.
• 2. Immediately cease air strikes on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
• 3. Support negotiations between all parties involved in the conflict, including Afghan women leaders.
• 4. Reform humanitarian aid and reconstruction funding efforts to prioritize Afghan organizations over foreign contractors. Ensure that funded projects address the needs and requests of Afghans and are not simply pet projects of foreign donors.
• 5. Invest in long-term aid that increases self-reliance such as sustainable agriculture efforts.
• 6. Immediately discontinue the use of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are costly, inefficient, and have militarized the aid process.
• 7. Standardize, increase, and publicly document compensation to Afghan families and communities affected by US military actions.
• 8. Sign the treaty to ban cluster bombs, pay for cluster bomb and landmine clean up in Afghanistan, and pledge never to use these weapons again.
Their full report, which goes into greater detail on all these issues, can be viewed at: http://www.peacefultomorrows.org/downloads/Afghanistanprimerjan09final.pdf.
It is time to recognize that war is not going to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan or Pakistan. US troops should be brought home now, not just from Iraq, but from Afghanistan as well. US national security and economic stability depends on ending the military conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kevin B. Zeese is Executive Director of VotersForPeace, a nonpartisan organization that does not support or oppose candidates for office.
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