Monday, December 07, 2009

MESSAGE FROM "United for Peace & Justice" - It's Obama's War, and We Will Stop It

The current escalation of the Afghanistan war comes at a new political moment. Unemployment is over 10%. Cities and towns are slashing basic services right and left. People are losing health care in droves, nothing is being done about the foreclosure crisis, and the U.S. is going to Copenhagen empty handed. We need to build a movement that can respond to these challenge,- because while this is not a new war, we need to fight it in a new way. We need to build new alliances into a movement that can bring this war and occupation to a rapid end, so that we can begin to make good on our real obligations to the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to the people of our own country who struggle to find jobs, health care, and climate justice.

We need to build a movement with roots in the labor movement, and among those struggling for economic rights, particularly among communities of color.

Congress hasn't given Obama a blank check for this war yet - not even a $30 billion check. And there's still time for us to make sure they don't.

Take Action
· Please call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 with this simple, clear message:
Sign on to Barbara Lee's HR.3699 which prevents funding for troop increases. And vote NO on further funding for the war in Afghanistan.
It is long past time to bring home all our troops, and military contractors from Afghanistan.
· Next week, President Obama will go to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Gather to watch the award ceremony at 7 pm Eastern time on December 10th, invite the press, and write letters to the editor and op-eds to protest the absurdity of giving a peace prize to a president who has tripled the size of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan during his ten months in office
· There is still a huge amount of confusion about Afghanistan. We need to keep doing basic education and outreach work. Show the film "Rethink Afghanistan", sponsor lectures and talks, and do vigils and creative protests to link the war to the economic crisis at home.

UFPJ's Synopsis: What Did the President Say in His Speech?

President Obama tried unsuccessfully in his escalation speech Tuesday night to sugar-coat a disastrous and unpopular strategy. In a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, only 36% said the decision to send 30,000 troops was right, and 73% worried that the costs of the war will make it more difficult to deal with problems at home. A national poll of young adults by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that 66% oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama's red-meat rhetoric about how 9/11 was planned by terrorists in Afghanistan was a throwback to the Bush era, and he presented the goal of the Afghanistan project as to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Yet he failed to acknowledge the generally shared view that there are fewer than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Sending more than 100,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of NATO troops is not about hunting for these 100 people, but fighting for control of Afghanistan - against the Taliban and others opposed to U.S. occupation.

The President dropped any claim that the U.S. war was bringing democracy to Afghanistan, modernizing a backward country, or liberating Afghan women. It's understandable that Obama would drop those claims. Afghanistan ranks second to last in the UN's Human Development Index, and just two weeks ago UNICEF identified Afghanistan as one of the three worst places in the world for a child to be born. Obama did not use the words "exit" or "exit strategy" in the speech. He gave a July 2011 date for the "beginning" of transferring U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, but Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates made clear in testifying to Congress the next day that the 18-month timeline is conditional. And most importantly, the speech lacked any indication how fast troops will be withdrawn at that time or any commitment to ever withdraw all U.S. troops or to close the enormous U.S. military bases now being constructed in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has more mercenaries in Afghanistan (104,101 in September) than troops; their number has been rising rapidly (40% just between June and September 2009), with no discussion of reducing these.

The President said that responsibility for security will be handed over to the Afghan army starting in 18 months. But riven by ethnic tensions, corruption, and warlordism, the viability of the Afghan government is seriously in doubt. Analysts on all sides are pointing out that the counter-insurgency strategy the U.S. is pursuing does not make sense without a viable Afghan government.

President Obama acknowledged a $30 billion cost in 2010 for the escalation but left unsaid that the total Afghanistan war cost for the year will really be $100 billion. $100 billion a year is enough to fund the entire health insurance reform program for tens of millions of Americans.
Together, we can and will stop these wars!


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