Tom Hayden / The Peace Exchange Bulletin – 2010-11-15 20:37:28
(November 15, 2010) — The following petition is an overnight response to the sudden announcement that President Obama and his NATO allies are supporting a 2014 deadline for the transfer of authority from Western armed forces to Afghan ones.
Like Vietnamization a generation ago, that is a formula for lessening American and Western casualties while transitioning back to an Afghan civil conflict in which we arm, fund, and train one side against the other. It is not a US troop withdrawal either.
The absolutely critical point is that the Obama administration is yielding to the incessant demands of John McCain, Karl Rove and the Pentagon to delay ending the US military occupation until sometime between four years from now and forever.
We need to make sure that the President is aware that another four years of war will be a very hard sell to the millions of Americans in the peace bloc of voters.
The president’s actual position remains flexible. He and his NATO allies are testing the waters of public opinion with this proposal. Only a forceful and rational pushback by public opinion can keep them from sliding further and further into an endless, unwinnable and unaffordable war.
To the President of the United States and Members of the United States Congress:
WE OBJECT to the United States proposal for Afghanistan being presented this week to NATO ministers.
It is not a peace plan. It is a plan for four more years of combat by US and NATO forces.
It is not a plan for US or Western troop withdrawals but for further occupation. It is a proposal to gradually lessen Western casualties and lessen Western visibility while transitioning to Western-financed, Western-armed, and Western-advised Afghan army combat in a civil conflict. It is a plan for long-term Western military bases.
It is not a plan to stop al Qaeda or terrorists from attacking Western targets. There are virtually no al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. The most recent terrorist attacks on America have been inspired by our deepening wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In seeking to save our military reputation, we all but assure future threats against Western targets. CIA officials even describe Yemen’s al Qaeda cell as more dangerous than al Qaeda in Pakistan. [NYT, Oct. 18, 2010]
It preempts the Administration’s own proposal for a full “review” of Afghan policy in December. The timing instead is aimed at shoring up a faltering Western alliance.
The central proposal, to increase the scale of the Afghan army and police in order to prop up a corrupt Kabul regime will never work without a parallel ceasefire, deep institutional reform, enforceable human rights, and peace-keeping arrangements with leadership by neutral countries.
The current expenditure of over $100 billion American dollars per year for Afghanistan could be spent on medical care for 15 million veterans, or 15 million college scholarships, or 1.8 million new teachers, or 72 million installations of renewable energy for American homes.
IF THE PRESIDENT SEEKS THE SUPPORT OF THE PEACE CONSTITUENCY WHICH CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO HIS 2008 VICTORY, HE SHOULD:
Â· Stop placating Republicans and Pentagon generals who seek unaffordable and elusive “victories”:
Â· Heed and not disappoint the 75 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Independents who want a timetable for withdrawal;
Â· Launch regional diplomacy towards power-sharing in Afghanistan with greater urgency as the current military escalation;
Â· Announce a substantial troop reduction from Afghanistan in 2011, and a complete phase-out in two years;
Â· Stop the foreign drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas and send massive medical aid and infrastructure assistance instead;
Â· Keep his pledge to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
TO THE NEW REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WE DEMAND:
Â· That deficit hawks apply their budget philosophy to the trillion-dollar costs of these unfunded wars;
Â· That the Republican leadership permit hearings, full debate, and roll call votes on war funding and related amendments;
As President Obama and Gen. Petraeus have said many times, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We ask, how many more will die in pursuit of this impossible goal?