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Time for an EXIT strategy from Afghanistan
Virginia Pratt’s Thoughtful and Inspiring Letter to Senator Kerry:
Dear Senator Kerry,
I am told that we are spending 10 million a day on the War in Afghanistan. From what I can see, the money would be better spend it if were flushed down the toilet. At least it would not be lining the pockets of warlords while also causing death and destruction.
We have been in Afghanistan for over 9 years with nothing to show as a positive outcome for either us or the tortured Afghan people. The country is riddled with corruption. The infrastructure – roads, water, sewer system and electricity are close to non existent. The children, especially girls, have almost no access to education. The life expectancy is as little as 45 years old because of the poverty, the harsh conditions, and the lack of medical care. Women have only two rights - the right to pray and the right to obey their husband. Women are sold and forced into marriages at very young ages. The country is brimming over with widows, orphans, and maimed people forced to live on as little as a dollar a day. Afghanistan has been plunged into the dark ages.
The actions of our military have not been heroic. Rather, the use of drones, and night raids, have terrorized and killed civilians. The war has resulted in at least 7 million citizen casualties, far more than 9/11. The recent reports of US military claiming bones of killed civilians as “trophies” further demonstrates the depraved outcome of our military intervention. Hardly a day goes by without reports of civilian casualties including young children and occasional wedding parties.
Close the School of the Americas During April Days of Action
School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) is mobilizing for a gathering in Washington, DC from April 4-11, 2011 to take their demands to the White House, the halls of Congress, and other sources of military and foreign policy decisions.
Many WILPF women have been in the annual demonstrations at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the SOA (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation) is located. A few of us have even “crossed the line”, been arrested and served three months in prison. This imprisonment is a deliberate act of solidarity with the oppressed people and martyrs of the Americas, who suffer as a result of the repressive techniques taught to “students” at the SOA.
UNITED NATIONAL ANTIWAR COMMITTEE CALLS ON ALL SUPPORTERS TO TURN OUT FOR RALLIES IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT AND OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES TODAY, THIS WEEKEND, AND IN COMING DAYS
No More US Support to the Mubarak Dictatorship!
Hands off Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen!
The Egyptian people, inspired by the victory in Tunisia and building on their own heroic rallies and strikes in recent years, have now taken the lead in the regional revolt against US-backed dictatorships. Today, Friday, January 28th, masses have poured into the streets for the third straight day of protest, and are once again fighting valiantly against cops and troops armed with US made and paid for weapons.
It is the US government which has created and STILL supports the Mubarak regime to the tune of $1.5 billion a year as part of its regional military apparatus, and it is US banks and corporations that have imposed the neoliberal austerity regime of unemployment, poverty and malnutrition against which Egyptian workers have been rebelling for decades.
The US Department of Defense is meeting this very week with Egyptian military officials to discuss how to maintain this oppression. A DoD press briefing reports: "With regards to Egypt:… we actually this week are hosting senior Egyptian military leaders at the Pentagon for our annual bilateral defense talks… So that's just an example of how engaged we are with the Egyptians, even as these developments have taken place on the streets in Cairo and elsewhere…”
And it is the US State Department which has already begun maneuvers throughout the region to ensure that any governments that fall are replaced with equally compliant regimes -- maneuvers such as the visit by the head of “Near East Affairs” in the State Department this week to Tunisia, and by their “National Democratic Institute” to Yemen, to “advise” on “clean elections” – i.e. to plot how to subvert the goals of the masses in the streets.
This petition was created by Tom Hayden on November 15, 2010 and is viewable here or click on the image.
Here is some material as posted at the petition site:
It is not a peace plan. It is a plan for four more years of combat by US and NATO forces.
It is not a plan for US or Western troop withdrawals but for further occupation. It is a proposal to gradually lessen Western casualties and lessen Western visibility while transitioning to Western-financed, Western-armed, and Western-advised Afghan army combat in a civil conflict. It is a plan for long-term Western military bases.
It is not a plan to stop al Qaeda or terrorists from attacking Western targets. There are virtually no al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. The most recent terrorist attacks on America have been inspired by our deepening wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In seeking to save our military reputation, we all but assure future threats against Western targets. CIA officials even describe Yemen’s al Qaeda cell as more dangerous than al Qaeda in Pakistan. [NYT, Oct. 18, 2010]
It pre-empts the Administration’s own proposal for a full “review” of Afghan policy in December. The timing instead is aimed at shoring up a faltering Western alliance.
In Boston, WILPF members assembled outside the office of Sen. John Kerry to protest the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In Philadelphia, WILPF members visited the offices of Sen. Robert Casey and Rep. Joe Sestak with written statements. Member Marge Van Cleef specifically challenged the U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are killing people indiscriminately. She and other members called for a moratorium on the “war on terror.” During the action, Dr. Ronald Coburn discussed the high suicide rate of returning U.S. soldiers. Citing a recent study which showed that between 2005 and 2008, the number of California vets who committed suicide was three times higher than the number of soldiers killed in action during the same period, Dr. Coburn called for officials to include these suicides in their total number of military deaths. He recommended increasing the funding for support and therapy groups for the 25 percent of soldiers who return home suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). WILPF Member Dory Loder highlighted the cost of the war, which has exceeded $3 trillion.
Action Proposal Submitted by WILPF’s End the Wars Issue Committee:
We call for the equal participation of women in all aspects of the antiwar movement. We propose nonviolent direct actions at local U.S. Congressional offices, federal buildings, defense corporations’ facilities, or military bases. These activities would be nationally coordinated local actions, on the same day, for everyone.
Nonviolent direct actions often result in arrest, thus participants would be prepared for that possible outcome before joining the action. Nonviolence training would be offered locally, with lists of trainers being made available.
We would welcome women who choose not to participate in the direct action to come as supporters, as protesters with banners, leaflets, and as press contacts.
Women voting in Afghanistan
The evidence that the war in Afghanistan is a catastrophe just keeps piling up. Despite General McChrystal’s efforts to reduce civilian deaths, we just learned that so far this year the number of civilians killed by NATO has more than doubled.
This includes a botched raid where special operations forces killed five innocent civilians – including two pregnant women – and then tried to cover it up. Just last week, troops fired into a bus full of civilians, killing as many as five people and causing a firestorm of protest. The Associated Press (4/12/10) has reported that: “With troop levels rising amid heightened violence, at least 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting last year, an increase of 14 percent from 2008, according to the United Nations … NATO earlier this month confirmed that international troops were responsible for the deaths of five people, including three women, killed Feb. 12 in Gardez, south of Kabul. An Afghan government report on the incident claims U.S. special forces had mistaken their targets and later sought to cover up the killings by digging bullets out of bodies, according to investigators who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with the media.”
Earlier this month, the WikiLeaks website released a harrowing video from 2007 of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of civilian men in Bagdad, two of whom were journalists working for Reuters.
WILPF urges the U.S. Congress and all respective government departments to rescind a policy on continuing and escalating a dangerous war and occupation in Afghanistan, announced by President Obama in his December 1 speech at West Point This path of escalation is inflicting "collateral" damage on a civilian population and propping up a corrupt government. This escalation now includes CIA –operated drone (pilotless) aircraft attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, attacks which are war crimes forbidden by Nuremburg and the Army Field Manual. We condemn the possible further destabilization of the entire region, including Iraq, Yemen and Iran for the stated goal of capturing Al-Qaeda members and destroying the network. This endless war is killing civilians and military personnel on all sides in the war and becomes a recuiting tool for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, is not a direct military threat to the United States.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
(February 25, 2010) - On Thursday, March 4, 2010 Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will introduce his privileged resolution that will require House debate on continuing the war in Afghanistan.
It is expected that the resolution will be taken up for consideration on the following Wednesday, March 10, 2010 and that the debate will be subject to a rule providing for three hours of debate.
The cost of employing one soldier is $1 million per year*, in addition to money for equipment, for private contractors and for war-making materials, etc. To this figure we must add the cost of providing medical support for the injured soldiers who return to the U.S. We must oppose this ongoing war as strongly as possible. As Malalai Joya, a former member of the Afghan Parliament says, “A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan.” Read her op-ed in The Guardian here.
From the Boston Globe Newspaper, August 17, 2009, page 11
ON A RECENT TRIP to Kabul for our nonprofit organization, Jobs for Afghans, Najim Dost and I made a startling discovery: There is no true Taliban insurgency.
Yes, there is a Taliban leadership, many of whom are “foreigners,’’ meaning, non-Afghans. Yes, there are many fighting-age men who fight because they are paid to do so, by the small cadre of Taliban and Al Qaeda commanders who have plenty of opium money. They fork out the excellent wage in these parts of $8 per day for “insurgent work.’’
But a die-hard, dedicated army of fighters who pledge allegiance to the Taliban ideology and cause? It’s not there. Even Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged last March, “Roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money.’’ And General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said to Congress in 2007: “Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families.’’
Statement on US Involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, opposes military action to resolve the armed conflict in Afghanistan. Specifically, we cannot support the sending of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into the country and the use of drone aircraft there and in Pakistan. We call for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO military forces.
It should be self evident that the use of violent force by another country cannot lead to the elimination of violence and armed conflict within Afghanistan. The very people the U.S. claims must be protected from Taliban insurgents are actually endangered by the presence of U.S and NATO troops. According to figures provided by the United Nations, at least 2100 Afghan civilians died in conflict related deaths in 2008. Of these, at least 1000 were killed by Taliban or other insurgents, who often target communities where U.S. military forces have had a presence. At least 800 civilians were killed in 2008 by Afghan government forces or by occupying U.S. and NATO forces, and of these at least 445 were killed by air strikes. Afghan women’s organizations, such as the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women, and women’s organizations involved in in-country initiatives, such as Madre and the Global Fund for Women, have consistently stated that the occupying U.S. military presence increases the level of violence in Afghan communities resulting in more civilian deaths and abductions and more dangerous conditions for women seeking to participate in public life, peace building, and civilian governance.
Nuclear Free Future Month
By Carol Urner, DISARM/End Wars Issue Committee