Afghanistan – A Great New Civil Society Campaign (Initiated by Afghans), Dem Platform on Ending the War "Responsibly," A "Tough Transition" and Straight Talk on "Security" from a Veteran (Who's Now a Peace Activist!)
Johnny Barber of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who is currently in Kabul, writes inspiringly of a new initiative by the youth group Afghan Peace Volunteers called 2 Million Friends, an international call to end the war and help heal Afghanistan.
Barber’s article begins, “Four decades of war. Two million people dead. Trillions of dollars spent. Money disappearing into the pockets of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, policemen and the armed forces. No accountability. No transparency. No infrastructure. The misery and poverty of the majority of the people continues unabated, decade after decade.
Children freeze to death in the winter. They starve to death all year round. The question remains, “Who benefits from this misery?” The human cost of war doesn’t enter into any politician’s calculations.
In October 2011 Secretary of State Clinton emphasized a new three-track strategy of “Fight, talk, and build,” claiming to “pursue all three tracks at once, as they are mutually reinforcing.” One year later, it is clear that the 3rd Afghan strategy of the Obama administration can be added to the scrap heap of failed strategies along with the “Af-Pak” strategy and the “Surge”. No one is talking, nothing is being built, fighting is the only track that continues unabated. Security, even in Kabul, is tenuous. Peace seems a distant and illusory concept.”
Barber continues with a more hopeful approach, the 2 Million Friends campaign:
“On December 10, 2012, International Human Rights Day, “2 Million Friends” will present a petition to the UN calling for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, leading to direct, substantial talks to end the war, end the government corruption and begin to advocate for the welfare of the majority of the Afghan people who have suffered for too long.”
Peace Action plans to support this initiative, and I hope you will too. Please visit the 2 Million Friends website, get involved, and help spread the word!
Meanwhile here in the U.S., the Democratic Party Platform, which its convention in Charlotte will ratify today, has a short section (deliberately short I’m sure, as they’d prefer not to remind Americans of our longest war) titled “Ending the War in Afghanistan Responsibly,” which has the political virtue of putting anyone who doesn’t agree with this approach as being irresponsible. Read it for yourself and decide whether it, or the plan advocated in 2 Million Friends, is the better way to “responsibly” end the war.
As to the reality on the ground of how the “responsible end” to the war is going, Foreign Policy has these snippets today in its AfPak Daily (thanks to Michael Eisenscher of U.S. Labor Against the War for this):
Though a March 9 agreement with Afghanistan stipulated that the United States
transfer control of the Parwan detention facility at Bagram Air Base to the
Afghans by September 9, the U.S. military appears set to retain control
indefinitely over about 50 foreign detainees, as well as all Afghans who are
newly detained (
NYT). The U.S. military’s continued role shows the complexity of trying to
put detention and interrogation activities in Afghan hands while American
troops are still conducting combat operations in the country.
Afghanistan’s top military commander, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, admitted
Wednesday that the rising incidence of insider attacks by Afghan security
forces on their NATO counterparts is not fully attributable to infiltration by
foreign spy agencies as Afghan officials had previously claimed (
Post). Karimi said senior military officers don’t give their subordinates
enough guidance, so “they don’t know why we are fighting.”
A new report
by Human Rights Watch claims that a suspected Libyan terrorist was waterboarded
by the CIA in Afghanistan, contradicting the official U.S. narrative that just
three high-level al-Qaeda suspects were ever subjected to waterboarding, none
of them Libyan (
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasool and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar
Salehi signed a deal on Wednesday giving land-locked Afghanistan access to the
Iranian port of Chabahar on the Indian Ocean (
AP). And a senior Pakistani official confirmed Thursday that Pakistan
signed a barter deal with Iran last month to trade wheat for fertilizer,
despite U.S. pressure to continue isolating Iran over its nuclear program (
And last but far from least, our colleague Matt Southworth of Friends Committee on National Legislation posted a very thoughtful, heartfelt, analytical and yet personal piece Is A War Less Noticed Making You Safe? on the FCNL blog. Matt’s conclusion (though you should read the whole article) exhibits a clarity missing from what passes for debate these days over our longest war:
“To me, security doesn’t start overseas; it starts here at home. Security is knowing that if you work hard, you will have a job to go to everyday. It means knowing your children can get a good education and go to college without facing mountains of debt. Security is being able to walk around your neighborhood at night without fear of being mugged—something that can’t be done in every Washington, DC neighborhood. Security means knowing that you don’t have to compromise your health because medical expenses are simply too daunting. To me, security means knowing we, the United States, play a positive role around the world, rather than a sinister, means to ends one that we seem to have adopted.
My deployment to Iraq in 2004 did none of these things. When this next anniversary of 9/11 comes to pass, think about how you’d define security. What makes you feel secure? I bet the bloated Pentagon budget and wars overseas won’t be as large a part of your security as some would have us all believe.”