FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Barbra Bearden
Ph: 301.565.4050 ext. 330 Cell: 617.240.7253
Paul Kawika Martin
Ph: 301.565.4050 ext. 316 Cell: 951.217.7285
(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. http://www.peace-action.org/
Congressional Letter to President Obama: http://www.peace-action.org/Afghanistan/sign_on_letter.html#endorsing
Louisville Courier-Journal: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090320/NEWS01/903200340/1008/rss01
RAND Report: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/index1.html
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/26/AR2009032602135.html?referrer=emailarticle
ABC Poll: http://abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/story?id=6787686&page=1
Carnegie Report: http://carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=22619&prog=zgp&proj=zsa