February 19th, 2009 11:36 EST
Stop Escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Yesterday, the administration announced it was going to increase U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by 50% -- 17,000 troops. This comes in the same week that it was announced that last year there was a 40% increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan and when Sen. Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that the U.S. was attacking Pakistanis from inside Pakistan, with the permission of the national government.
All of this risks the U.S. getting into a war quagmire in Afghanistan and a civil war in Pakistan.
Below is a letter I urge you to send to President Obama. You can do so by copying the letter below into the message box at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. You are welcome to rewrite or edit the letter as you see fit.
The good news is that President Obama is also conducting a complete review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. This is good news as the Afghan war, now 8 years old, is showing consistent signs of failure and every other outside military force that has come to the country has left defeated, e.g. the Soviet Union and Great Britain. The U.S. cannot afford being trapped in Afghanistan in an unwinnable war.
There are more effective approaches to dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan, this includes emphasizing diplomacy, regional security, economic aid and education. Regarding al Qaeda a targeted force is needed to bring their leadership to trial so the world can see the truth in what they have done and can see the United States stands for justice not assassination. And, the Taliban needs to be recognized as a political force in the region. Attacking this political force with the military is counterproductive as it makes them stronger and ends up killing more civilians than members of the Taliban. This is a case where including the Taliban in the political process is the only path to success, especially if it is coupled with making governments more effective with funds for infrastructure and education. In the long run, and no matter which path is chosen, it is going to take a long time, this strategy will help the U.S. achieve stability in the region.
Finally, the economic collapse in the U.S. and much of the world makes spending hundreds of billions on the Afghan and Iraq war unaffordable. Not only is using the military an ineffective approach, it is also the most expensive approach. Diplomacy, regional security, foreign aid, education and targeted paramilitary force is less expensive and more effective - it will allow the U.S. to focus its resources on fixing the U.S. economy.
Please take action today by sending the letter below to President Obama. You can do so here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.
And, please donate to our efforts now. If you cannot donate, visit www.VotersForPeace.US and check out some of the google advertisements that are on the page as that will result in Voters for Peace raising money as well.
Thank you for your efforts.
Kevin B. Zeese
Letter to President Obama
I read with disappointment your announcement of a 50% increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It comes just after an announcement that there was a 40% increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan last year. More troops will lead to more civilian deaths and lead to more hatred of America. This is a counterproductive strategy that will escalate into a quagmire.
And, with Pakistan on the border and the acknowledgment that the U.S. government is attacking al Qaeda and the Taliban, and killing civilians, from Pakistan the U.S. is risking becoming engaged in a civil war in that country. Military escalation is once again leading to a dangerous and counterproductive quagmire that could undermine your presidency.
I am pleased that your administration is reviewing the strategy and goals of Afghanistan. This is an opportunity for a major shift in policy to more effective alternatives. It is past time to emphasize diplomacy, education and economic development to bring Afghanis and Pakistanis to America`s side. The focus on al Qaeda should be built on regional security agreements as well as targeted forces that can bring their leaders to justice - a public trial so the world can see the full story. The Taliban is a political force in the region that must be acknowledged and brought into negotiations. Military attacks are making them stronger, not weaker.
Since the U.S. spends half its discretionary spending on the military and more on military marching bands than on diplomacy it is not surprising that the tool the United States uses is military force. But, it is a counterproductive tool. It is time to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and build up more effective approaches. The reliance on military force shows that a paradigm shift is needed in U.S. foreign policy, away from militarism and domination to cooperation, multilateralism and diplomacy.
Diplomacy and foreign aid will also be less expensive than the military option - which is the most expensive and least effective alternative. We cannot afford the Iraq and Afghan wars. It is time to end both, bring all troops and private security contractors` home and focus those resources on rebuilding the U.S. economy.