This post was researched and co-written by Andrea D’Cruz.
Within a matter of months a majority of Americans have shifted from supporting to opposing the Afghanistan war as we approach the eighth anniversary of the start of the conflict. According to recent polls, a solid 57 percent of Americans now object to the military effort.
At the same time, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for additional troops to prosecute the war is being studied by the White House, which will soon make a decision that could define the Obama presidency, as The Nation‘s editorial laying out the case against escalation, notes.
Meanwhile, just like the administration, antiwar activists are reallocating their attention from Iraq towards Afghanistan, determined to preempt McChrystal’s proposed troop surge. A broad coalition of groups is co-ordinating protests and demonstrations for the coming weeks, hoping to emulate the successes of the Vietnam protests in ways that the anti-Iraq war movement never managed. There will be vigils, rallies, memorials, teach-ins, film festivals, demonstrations, direct action and marches. The activities will range from a few individuals to events where many thousands of people are expected to turn up.
The activist upsurge is nicely detailed in an article in last week’s UK Observer, which also argues that “…the Obama administration does not appear to have much fear of the doveish wing of the broad liberal coalition that put Obama into the White House.”
That needs to change. Here are some ways you can help:
See the Nation‘s list, Ten Things You Can Do to Oppose War in Afghanistan by Z.P. Heller.
And, Ten More Things You Can Do to Oppose War in Afghanistan by Tom Hayden.
If you’re a student, join the Campus Antiwar Network and hold teach-ins, debates, talks, demonstrations and walkouts on college campuses across the country.
Sponsor one of the more than 830 pairs of empty boots making up the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit, a memorial to American soldiers killed in the war, which is being organized by the American Friends Service Committee and Military Families Speak Out for this coming weekend in Washington, DC. You can also offer to volunteer either at the memorial in DC or with the preparation in Baltimore on Friday.
Head to DC on October 5th for a day of direct action at the White House, organized by the stalwarts of non-violent protest, the War Resisters League.
If you’re in New York City on October 7, the eighth anniversary of the war, get yourself to Grand Central Station, and get involved in leafleting, soapboxing, holding signs/banners and street theater.
Or if you’re in the capital on that day, visit the Washington Peace Center’s educational forum, ‘Not the “Good” War: Rethinking Afghanistan Eight Years Later’ which includes first-hand reports back from trips to Afghanistan from Phyllis Bennis and Medea Benjamin.
There are other anniversary events coast to coast on October 7. Look up your nearest candlelit vigil, rally or panel, or organize one yourself.
Contact your senators, representatives and President Obama and implore them to say no to General McChrystal’s request to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.
Watch Robert Greenwald’s Rethink Afghanistan online for free, then get a copy of the DVD and host a screening, invite your elected reps and their staffers to watch the film, and post one of the six film’s segments to your Facebook page.
Play host to a Peace for Afghanistan house party.
Collect signatures for Peace Action’s A Better Plan for Afghan Peace petition.
Add your name to Code Pink’s call for an exit strategy that includes NATO/US troop withdrawal, all party talks, regional diplomacy, and continued aid for reconstruction, medical care, education and development in Afghanistan.
Support the troops who refuse to fight–like David Travis Bishop, currently serving a 12 month sentence for refusing deployment to Afghanistan–by writing directly to the jailed resisters, donating to their defense funds and organizing petitions and letter writing campaigns.
PS: If you have extra time on your hands and want to follow me on Twitter — a micro-blog — click here. You’ll find (slightly) more personal posts, breaking news, basketball and lots of links.