President Obama will soon make what could be the defining decision ofhis presidency. The course he chooses in Afghanistan will tell us a lot about the kind of country we will become during his administration.
We have already been fighting in Afghanistan for twice as long as we fought in World War II. In fact, the United States and its NATO partners have had more than 40,000 troops in Afghanistan since 2006 and have spent more than $300 billion on military and civilian operations. At this perilous moment, as we attempt to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the last thing we need is a "surge" of 40,000 more troops to fight on behalf of a corrupt and unpopular Afghan government.
Security in the United States and the region depend not on this misguided surge, but on common sense counterterrorist and homeland security measures: extensive intelligence cooperation, expert police work, border control, and the surgical use of special forces to disrupt imminent attack when needed.
What is hopeful is that the majority of Americans have turned against the war.
The Nation‘s special issue on Afghanistan–Obama’s Fateful Choice–published this week, takes on the rationale for escalation, challenges the White House to explore a broader range of options, and offers alternatives, including an exit strategy. The issue also offers ways to get involved to oppose this misguided and dangerous policy.
One new effort was launched today by five national peace advocacy groups representing hundreds of thousands of Americans–a project called NoEscalation.org. The website tracks whether Members of Congress have taken a stand against troop escalation, and lists their phone numbers so constituents can call and ask their legislators to oppose it.
The website is created by CodePink, Just Foreign Policy, Peace Action,United for Peace and Justice, and Voters for Peace. The groups areurging Americans to report back to NoEscalation.org about their conversations with Congressional offices.
"We’re at a major fork in the road," said Robert Naiman of Just ForeignPolicy. "One road leads to years of quagmire and needless death and trauma for American soldiers and Afghan civilians. The other road leadsto national reconciliation in Afghanistan, regional diplomacy, an exit strategy, and a timetable for military withdrawal."
President Obama promised to renew and reconstruct our nation. At a time when we are struggling to recover from a debilitating economic crisis, how can he justify the cost that sending yet more troops to Afghanistan would entail?
Make sure your voice is heard as President Obama makes this fateful choice.