Peace Group Warns Obama to Reconsider His Plan in Afghanistan

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Paul Kawika Martin

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(Washington, DC) Today President Obama announced his plan to send upwards of 20,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. Peace Action began organizing grassroots activists and lobbying against the escalation in late February.

Peace Action organized 19 other national organizations to petition Congressional Representatives to sign a letter to the President asking him to reconsider the escalation. The bipartisan letter signed by six Republicans and eight Democrats states in part, “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 U.S. security.”

This poorly conceived strategy continues failed Middle East policies where military engagement serves as the primary diplomatic tool. The war weary American public does not support an escalation of the U.S. presence and neither should the otherwise popular U.S. President.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Peace Action protests across the country March 20th, “Marge Manke, 72, of Louisville, said she is a Quaker and member of the Peace Action Community and has been against the Iraq war since before it started. She also opposes the war in Afghanistan and held a sign saying: “Dear President Obama, Don’t let Afghanistan be your Vietnam.”

Dozens of national organizations are joining Peace Action in a call for local protests in reaction to Obama’s statement between April 6th-9th and a coordinated call-in day to the White House scheduled for Tuesday, March 31st.

“It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result,” said Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action. He continued, “While President Obama has made some good statements on increasing diplomacy and economic aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the emphasis is clearly on military operations. John F. Kennedy was in a comparable situation when he was elected. He chose to escalate then as well, and the consequences of his decision left our country mired in an unwinnable war.”

The President should de-escalate our military presence in Afghanistan keeping regional stability and human rights at the forefront of any diplomatic talks. There is a political solution to instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan; but, that solution cannot be reached while the U.S. and NATO impose military dominance. According to a RAND Corporation report, since 1968, only seven percent of all terrorist groups that have ended were taken down by military force. In contrast, 43 percent gave up terrorism as they were integrated into the political process.

The U.S. and international community should increase funding for Afghan-led humanitarian aid, development work, and landmine clean up. An ABC news poll at the end of 2008 found that only 18 percent of Afghans support an increase in military presence. Much of the strife among the Afghan people stems from the use of controversial Predator drone and air strikes as well as nightly raids in private homes.

Our current presence in Afghanistan costs the American tax payer more than $2 billion per month. The proposed plan for Afghanistan would increase that figure by 60 percent this year. When asked about the increased costs Martin said, “Here in the U.S., Obama’s escalation, and the continuing occupation of Iraq, threatens the president’s, and our country’s, urgent economic and domestic agenda.”

It is clear that U.S. troops cannot sustain any more extended deployments. According to CNN the suicide rate for U.S. troops has surpassed that of the general population for the first time since Vietnam. The occurrence of suicide is highly correlated with more than three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Martin concluded, “Nothing indicates a military strategy will provide stability in Afghanistan. There is only one thing certain about the impact of this escalation more death, destruction, and misery.”


Peace Action is the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with 100,000 members and affiliates and chapters in 28 states. Dating to the founding of the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy in 1957, Peace Action works for the abolition of nuclear weapons, cuts in military spending in order to fund human and environmental needs, and a new U.S. foreign policy based on international cooperation and human rights.

Editors Notes:

Congressional Letter to President Obama:

Louisville Courier-Journal:

RAND Report:

Washington Post:

ABC Poll:


Carnegie Report:

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Showing 6 comments
  • (Ms.) Meryle A.Korn

    I am profoundly disappointed that President Obama plans to scale up American military presence in Afghanistan. The time for that was 6 years ago, when former Pres. Bush did a “bait & switch,” diverting troops into his war-of-choice on Iraq. While Osama bin Laden remains at large, whereabouts not certain, and the Taliban, once diminished, has regained its power, the plight of the people of Afghanistan continues to worsen. They need assistance in rebuilding; more American military attacks will lead primarily to more “collateral damage,” the oh-so-nice term the military uses for accidental civilian casualties. That can only make more enemies for America. It will weaken, not strengthen, our security.

    War has failed. More precisely, war on an idea – terrorism – has failed. Afghanistan is not our enemy. The Afghan people are not our enemies. Osama bin Laden, al Qaida, the Taliban – they are criminals who bear ill will (to say the least) against America. Criminals are the proper quarry of police, not militaries. Please discontinue the paradigm of “war on terror” and concentrate on making friends for America, not more enemies.

  • Ian C.Cree,MB(Hons.),MS,FRCS(Eng.& C.),FACS,LRCP.

    It is critical for all Americans to realize that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are just as unwinnable as were the wars in Korea and Viet Nam.

    We could not win in Korea because North Korea was supported by China which had the H-bomb, as did Russia, The same applied to Viet Nam, in which North Viet Nam was supported by Russia.
    In both these wars all that we could do was lose troops and treasure.

    We could not win in Iraq because we had no business to be there in the first place. After the Gulf war, Saddam Hussein was held in check by fly-overs which were highly effective. Only the absurd arrogance of Bush, who wanted to show off to his daddy that he could go one better, and get rid of Saddam Hussein (politely called “Regime Change”), combined with systematic lying about WMD and just about everything else started and maintained that war.
    We had “Victory after Victory after Victory”, each characterized by increased loss of life and staggering loss of National Resources. Iraq remained out of control and so remains. We are no nearer to ending this unwinnable war than when we started it. “Victory” !!!!!!!!
    Hovering in the background, as we expended our forces and trillions of dollars, was Russia, which sat idly by and watched the carnage, ready to support Iraq, if there was any real success on the part of the USA, adding intensity to the unwinnable nature of this war which only evoked more and more enemies in the Arab world.
    Afghanistan presented an even more unwinnable situation in which we again excelled in winning even more enemies. Bush failed to learn the sharp lesson taught to Russia, which was forced to leave empty handed after losing enormous numbers of troops (15,000) and finances. Afghanistan remained in the hands of its people throughout the occupation by Russia which was able to only hold the major towns.
    Now history repeats itself, as the USA holds only the major towns and a portion of the roads. The countryside remains in the hands of the Taliban – now stronger than ever. Yet another unwinnable situation in which we excelled in NOT winning the hearts and minds of the people.
    We are about to embark on another bout of massive losses of our troops and billions, maybe trillions more dollars in another unwinnable war.
    In the end, after disappearing into the mountains, the Taliban will return to take control, and we will have gained nothing.
    The choice of the Secretary of Defence was a tragic error. We will be treated to more of the same at a very high price, with the ever recurring promises of “Victory”. Can we never learn that these escapades cannot be won by force of arms?

    How think you?


    Ian Campbell Cree, MB(Hons.), MS, FRCS(Eng. & C.), FACS, LRCP.

  • miriam kurland

    We should not be involved in any actions that hurt, instead of help the innocent people in any country. There are other ways to end terrorism that are wiser, more effective.

  • Joanie Fritz Zosike

    I’ve written Barack Obama several times about the impending troop increase in Afghanistan. He just won’t listen to me! I thought he was supposed to be listening to us. What’s gone wrong?

    I know I shouldn’t joke about this. It’s a serious matter. But I have to express my deep disappointment that, to purloin the words of John McCain, “Barack Obama just doesn’t get it.” He gets a lot of things, but Afghanistan is not one of them. It’s nothing he didn’t foreshadow in his campaign speeches. It’s how he put a plank into a centrist campaign and reassured the heartland that he’d keep the “tear-wrists” from the door. It can also be argued that this country would never elect a president who wouldn’t use military force in the face of any perceived threat. “Perceived” being the operative word here.

    I DO think Obama is the most interesting president ever elected in all of American history for many reasons–and not just the obvious one. He is community oriented, he’s technologically sophisticated, he’s open, he’s charming, he’s eloquent, he’s even-handed. But he’s a politician. It would be political suicide for a president to not summon the military sometime in her or his term of office.

    If we take it back to what defines a country, it would be defined by virtue of having a post office and a standing army. Oh, and I guess a currency, whether or not it has anything to back it up. This is where the mistakes begin, with the possible exception of the post office part. I suppose the U.S. cannot unilaterally stand down all its troops and reassign them to peaceful pursuits, although it does seem the most direct line to peace if one country would have the nerve, the trust, the vision? Somewhere the link must be broken.

    But this is all very philosophical. What I truly wish to express is that Afghanistan has suffered sooooooo much. Yes, there’s Taliban in Afghanistan. But it’s not the only place where the Taliban resides. This irrational “war on terrorism” is so foolhardy. You can’t wage a war on something as abstract as an “ism.” So I ask, why Afghanistan now? Why Afghanistan ever? Why was Afghanistan pummeled by the Russians and then by the U.S.? This small stubborn strip of country has been warred on by others and has preyed on itself. The women of this country have been virtually enslaved; fundamentalism has ravaged the population further. And if it’s a shopping spree to find Osama bin Laden, well guess what, America! Osama is not an Afghanistani. He’s probably not even IN Afghanistan. He probably isn’t even ALIVE.

    Meanwhile, human flesh and bones will be torn and split, blood will be spilled, children will lose limbs, parents, once again this poor ravaged population will suffer. If there’s a smidgen of infrastructure left in Afghanistan, it will again be blown apart at the seams. This is of course assuming the worst. Increased troop presence doesn’t necessarily mean ground war or air strikes. But military excursions have a way of escalating, of taking on a life of their own. War is an insidious virus.

    Again I hope that Barack Obama, whom I like and even support on many issues, and whom I hope will succeed in his presidency, will see the light and use diplomacy to knit this thing back together. America must find another tactic in the Middle East. War is never, ever, ever the answer.

  • Gary Ribovic

    Dear Mr. President: Please end these foreign wars. Don’t repeat the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson. My family wish you and your family and your administration all the best their is. God Bless You.

  • Rosemary Fiscus

    I thought you were smart?

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