White House officials announced yesterday that President Obama has decided to deploy 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan within the next six months, nearly tripling the American military presence in Afghanistan that the president inherited when he took office. Obama will explain his decision in a much-hyped address at West Point tonight.
This seems crazy to me. Can’t see how it can possibly end well. To cite Malalai Joya, the youngest woman elected to the Afghan Parliament , writing recently in The Guardian, "by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames, and this week’s announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences."
If you agree with Joya, as I do, there are a range of groups trying to build peace and security in Afghanistan. .
One is the New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy. The venerable peace, social justice and democracy group recently sent a declaration to President Obama, titled We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan!.) It’s a strong, comprehensive statement, and it addresses the valid question asked by many critics of de-escalation, who argue that withdrawal equals an abandonment of the Afghan people.
"Withdrawal should not mean that the US abandons any effort to help the people of Afghanistan and neighboring states. Washington ought to lend political support to regional negotiations and to a broader settlement of the disputes between India and Pakistan, which continue to stoke the violence in Afghanistan. Above all, the U.S. should provide large-scale humanitarian aid to the desperately poor Afghan population — which, aid agencies note, is hindered by being intermingled with military operations."
I was proud to add my name when asked. Now, the CPD is looking to amass as many signatures as possible in a symbolic effort to underscore how wildly un-popular the president’s bellicose direction may prove to be. Click here to add your name, to see the growing list of signers, and/or to make a tax-deductible donation to help publicize the statement.
Another excellent new campaign worth circulating is Jonathan Tasini’s effort to convince Congressional candidates running for office in 2010 to sign a commitment that they will band together to end the incredible waste of life and resources in Afghanistan.
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.