A Tiny Voice in Congress Says No to Escalation of the War in Afghanistan: Tell Your Congressional Member to Say “NO!”, too!
March 10, 2009
On Feb 27, 2009, four members of the U.S. Congress circulated a letter to be sent to President Obama urging him to reconsider his decision to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan and to resist pressure to escalate even further. (The amount of Congressional support now numbers eight.)
They are asking other members of Congress to join them in pointing out that military escalation will do little to establish “a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself” and little to enhance U.S. security. In fact, they point to strong evidence that the escalation will be counterproductive to those goals. They cite a recent study by the Carnegie Endowment which concluded, “the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency’s momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the Resurgence of the Taliban.”
The letter reminds the President of Osama bin Laden’s stated goal to “bleed America to the point of bankruptcy” in Afghanistan, and urges him to not fall into that trap.
The letter also reminds the President of the failed Russian intervention in Afghanistan. “Russia spent nine years in Afghanistan and lost many billions of dollars and more than 15,000 Russian soldiers.” The Members of Congress also raise a concern about a subsequent pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan which could “lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States.”
If your member of Congress is one of these brave few, give him your whole-hearted thanks.
If your member of Congress has not yet spoken out against the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, we urge you to send a copy of this letter to your member of Congress and urge him or her to either sign onto this letter or send a similar letter to the President. The best way we can support our soldiers is to keep them out of war. This will also create fewer civilian casualties, which is the moral choice.
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
February 27, 2009
Dear Mr. President:
We have noted with some concern your announcement that an additional 17,000 U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan. As the goals of our seven year military involvement remain troublingly unclear, we urge you to reconsider such a military escalation.
If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive. A recent study by the Carnegie Endowment has concluded that “the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency’s momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban.”
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 counter insurgency war in Afghanistan does not appear to us to be in keeping with these directives and an escalation may actually harm U.S. security.
In a tape released in 2004, Osama bin Laden stated that al Qaeda’s goal was to “bleed.. .America to the point of bankruptcy” in Afghanistan. He continued, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note. . .”
We would do well to pay attention to these threats and to avoid falling into any such trap through escalation of our military presence in Afghanistan.
We are also concerned that any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States.
Mr. President, in reviewing the past history of Afghanistan and the nations that have failed to conquer it—Russia spent nine years in Afghanistan and lost many billions of dollars and more than 15,000 Russian soldiers—we urge you to reconsider the decision to send an additional 17,000 troops and to resist pressure to escalate even further.
Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-HI 1st)
Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6th)
Representative Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC 3rd)
Representative Steve Kagen (D-WI-8th)
Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH 10th)
Representative Ron E. Paul (R-TX 14th)
Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1st)
Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA 6th)
Michael D. Ostrolenk, President,
American Conservative Defense Alliance
Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Robert Greenwald, President
Brave New Films
Foreign Policy In Focus
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
New Internationalism project, Institute for Policy Studies
Robert Naiman, Senior Policy Analyst
Just Foreign Policy
(Rev.) James Kofski, Associate
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Dave Robinson, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement
Kevin Martin, Executive Director
John Leinung, Steering Committee
September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ, A coalition of 1,400 national and local organizations)
Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator
U.S. Labor Against the War
Kevin Zeese, Executive Director
Voters for Peace
The Honorable Tom Andrews, Director
Win Without War (A coalition of 40 national organizations)
Susan Shaer, Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions