14 representatives urge President Obama to reconsider troop escalation in Afghanistan

 In Afghanistan

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) spearheaded an effort to urge President Obama to reconsider sending 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. A bipartisan group of representatives held a press conference today presenting a letter they sent to President Obama. From the text of the letter:

If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive.  A recent study by the Carnegie Endowment has concluded that "the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency's momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban."

The 2001 authorization to use military force in Afghanistan allowed military action "to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States." Continuing to fight a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan does not appear to us to be in keeping with these directives and an escalation may actually harm US security.

You can download the entire letter here.

The signers of the letter include Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI-1), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6), Howard Coble (R-NC-6), John Conyers (D-MI-4), John Duncan (R-TN-2), Bob Filner (D-CA-51), Steve Kagen (D-WI-8), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10), Jim McGovern (D-MA-3), Michael Michaud (D-ME-2), Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1).

Peace Action West sent letters to congressional staff in targeted offices in the western states, urging representatives to sign on to the letter.  Peace Action’s national office also organized a letter signed by 19 organizations to all representatives in the House.

This is an important early step in building opposition to a military approach to Afghanistan and opening up a dialogue about how we can more effectively use diplomatic and humanitarian tools. In the early years of the war in Iraq, there were few members of Congress who were willing to speak out for a comprehensive plan to end the war in Iraq. Through the dedicated efforts of activists and progressive leaders in Congress we were able to turn a majority of Congress against the war in Iraq and elect a president who campaigned on ending the war and will soon start withdrawing US troops (though unfortunately not all of them).

USA Today published a new poll showing that 42% of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. This is the highest number ever, up from a mere 6% in January of 2002. As activists, we are at the forefront of an effort to educate the public and Congress and build support for a new approach that relies on proven nonmilitary counterterrorism efforts, diplomacy, reconstruction and humanitarian aid.

You can help us create this debate by becoming an Afghanistan Witness. Click here.

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