10 Reasons to Oppose the Escalation of War in Afghanistan

From a reader in Western Massachusetts:

10 Reasons to Oppose the Escalation of War in Afghanistan

  • Human cost of war: Soldier and civilian deaths and injuries have been escalating each year since 2001. Nearly 1000 U.S. soldiers have been killed while 32,000 Afghan civilians have died as a result of the war.
  • Economic cost of war: Each soldier in Afghanistan costs U.S. taxpayers $1 million per year. Private military contractors, known to de-fraud the Pentagon, exceed the number of soldiers in the war. No matter the war’s outcome, the defense industry wins with windfall profits.
  • U.S. economy in recession: We have reached 10.2 % unemployment, with many more who are underemployed or given up job hunting, accompanied by large cuts in human and social services. Put to peacetime uses, the 2009 cost of the war paid by Massachusetts citizen taxes would fund 600,000 Head Start positions, provide health care for 1.5 million people, and fund renewable electricity for 7.5 million citizens.
  • Corrupt Afghan government with warlords in power: Despite the U.S. rhetoric to bring democracy and rights for women in Afghanistan, there are no signs of democracy or improved status of women since the war began. In fact, women report increased male violence in the chaos of war.
  • Spread of war to Pakistan: Pakistan is a highly militarized country with nuclear weapons and an unstable government - a very risky situation within which to expand the war.
  • Drone attacks by U.S. and NATO: Drone attacks have resulted in a large percent of civilian casualties and have increased anger toward the U.S., thus ensuring new recruits to terrorist organizations.
  • War aid misdirected: 10% of the war budget is spent on “humanitarian” aid which mainly supports war objectives, such as road building for military trucks, not the lives of Afghan people.
  • War funding contradiction: Taliban are paid by U.S. military contractors to protect military supply routes. Tens to hundreds of millions of U.S. war dollars are funding the Taliban whom the U.S is fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Public opinion: More than half of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan.

Work with your community to find more ways to oppose the war, support wounded veterans, and create non-militarized solutions.

H. Patricia Hynes, board member of Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

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Heck yeah. You can't do much better for people's health than helping them not get shot by people paid for by our taxes.

I just heard that Afganistan is No. 179 out of 180 countries in the scale of corruption. Somalia is the last of the list with the most corruption. And we are going to pump even more money into this swamp? Big Muddy for sure!

If you're worried about war spreading to Pakistan, you should want more soldiers in the middle east, not less. Us leaving cedes all chance of control we would have over such an outcome. Furthermore, building roads in Afghanistan seems helpful to me. Afghanis use roads too, right? One of the major issues with this war has been Afghanistan's lack of infastructure. Building roads is an early step to remedy this problem. Finally, if public opinion was the final arbiter of presidential actions, Obama would have given up his healthcare plan long ago.

As for the fact that we are funding the Taliban- yes we should absolutely stop doing that! Doesn't mean we should abandon the effort altogether. Its not "war as we have heretofore been running it or nothing". We can still make changes.

This piece ignores the potential consequences of just up and leaving completely, while hi-liting the horrors of war. I will not deny the horrors of war, but i also think that since we already initiated this mess, we should at least do our best to see it through to a point... less messy.

Calling this a war is incorrect, this is an occupation where the military fights against the local resistance to the occupation.

We are occupying Afghanistan to make sure that opium production does not plummet as it did under the Taliban. The opium is used to destabilize Russia and former Soviet nations and fund covert operations. Afghanistan is also a great strategic location should war break out with Iran, Pakistan, Russia or China and a destabilized Afghanistan prevents oil and gas from the east Caspian sea to flow south east through Afghanistan. If you want to win the Great Game and control Eurasia, occupying Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, Kosovo, etc are helpful steps.

Also, the cost of the war increasing US debt and reducing living standards in the US by it's indirect effect on the economy and social services is considered a plus for the globalists building the new world order. All these reasons together make the Afghanistan "war" a win-win proposition for these folks.

As JP Morgan said, there are 2 reasons for doing something, the official reason (s) given, and the real reason (s).

Bella: Note that this group (correctly, in my view and it sounds like in yours) calls for a non-military solution. You don't make something that was wrong right by continuing to do what is wrong.

1/ Human cost of allowing the Taliban to resume operations...executions, murders, end of freedom for women, rampant paedophilia.....is that what we want?

2/ Monetary cost of allowing the Taliban and their allies Al Qaeda to resume operations...USS Cole, WTC bombing, US Embassy bombings, WTC attack.....far exceeds what we spend on troops.

3/ US Recession - would only get worse if terrorism were to be given the green light.

4/ Corrupt Afghan government. Yup. The Taliban would be sooo much better....

5/ Spread to Pakistan - well, yes - they have nukes, and are basically just a military coup away from handing them over to the Taliban/Al Qaeda. How would giving the Taliban back a Afghanistan reduce this risk in any way? In fact, vigourous armed opposition to the Taliban bolsters secular democratic rule in Pakistan.

6/ Drone attacks. Nice to see you swallowing fundamentalist PR. The drone attacks have decimated the Taliban/Al Qaeda leadership. Long may they continue. Civilian casualties in WW2 were not used as an excuse for appeasing the Nazis by giving in to them. Or were they?

7/ War aid. Building roads improves security and the economy. Improved security improves the economy. Win/win. Why would you oppose road building?

8/ Paying the bad guys. This works. Look at Truman's post-war Japan and contrast that with the disaster of Bush's post-war Iraq.

9/ Public opinion. Oh dear. 90% of americans probably couldn't find Afghanistan on an atlas. Does that mean it doesn't exist?

"non-military solution"? Sorry, typical wishful-thinking by people in denial about the fundamentally nasty reality that is this clash between civilisation and fundamentalist Islam. If we don't fight, we're history. Goodbye freedom of speech, human rights, female emancipation, and any sort of intellectual and economic progress - if we sit by and do nothing we lose it all when Islam is imposed on us. Appeasement didn't get us anywhere in the 1930s and won't get us anywhere in the 21st Century.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 02 Dec 2009 #permalink

11. No clear definition provided of what "victory" would look like
12. No possible solution without significant changes to social structure; which are prevented by continued military presence
13. No western power has EVER won a war in afghanistan
14. US military exposed to opium/heroin; may lead to addiction problems worse than Vietnam

How ironic that Islamic guerrillas were supported by the U.S. during the Soviet Union's last attempted occupation of Afghanistan. Talk about reaping what you sow.

It seems our president is ignoring the lessons of history. The occupations of the country by the British Empire and the Soviet Union worked out so well, you know, for those superpowers. Time to reread George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman."

What is victory there supposed to look like? A rebuilding of Afghanistan's infrastructure, vast economic support for its health and education needs to drag it out of a medieval era of warlords and religious fundamentalists? Meanwhile, U.S. politicians argue that we cannot afford those things for our own people. Something is very wrong with this picture.

Responses to #7:

11. Victory is the end of the Islamic Emirate's invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preferably the end of its existence.

12. The Taliban's creation involved significant changes to the social structure. It has been done before and it can be done again.

13. Logistics and technology are better than 120 years ago and there is no enemy superpower funding and arming the enemy this time, just a bunch of wealthy peninsula businessmen.

14. Getting rid of the opium crop is part of the current strategy.

That would all be well and good if our government was, you know, benevolent.

If you start with the assumption that they are, you end up pretty confused when you check out our history. If you don't make an assumption and look, it becomes pretty clear that there is a quest for global dominance that has been going on for quite some time. Business interests seem to be the driving force behind the brutality of america towards other countries.

I would add to the debate circa a non-military solution in Afghanistan an interesting review article by the "New York University Institute of Public Knowledge Working Group on South Asia" published last July by Himal SouthAsia: http://www.himalmag.com/Academics-to-Obama-Forget-the-militaries!-Demil…
@Vince Whirlwind
In my experience those who talk about wishful-thinking and denialism with reference to non military solutions are in fact those with little real-world experience. It is easy to distanciate ourselves from the very real atrocities of the war and calmly discuss about the acceptable costs in human lives and social fabric when we've never been in there. Sarajevo docet, and for us (europeans I mean) is still a painful memento.

Your blog title suggests that people are, in general, in favor of warmongering in Afghanistan. I don't know of anyone in their right mind who is. But that doesn't mean Obama can walk away from the quagmire Bush created. In fact, given the alternative, he seems like the best one to dig us out, and by "us" I mean the US and Afghanistan.

And as for comments like this: "13. No western power has EVER won a war in afghanistan", I have to face-palm for a moment. So what? That means we should all give up and not even try to make a bad situation better?

Until 1969 no one had EVER landed on the moon. That means it's impossible, right?

Until 1945 no one had EVER beaten Hitler in a World War - so clearly we should all have surrendered and let him have his Fortess Europa, because it worked so well when we let Russia do the same thing in eastern Europe.

Until the early 20th century, no one had EVER figured out relativity, so clearly Einstein should have stayed a patent clerk all his life and abandoned his pet projects, right?

Sorry but I can't take anyone seriously who thinks that line of "reasoning" is valid.

I've noticed that arguments for and against continuing a military action such as this tend to fall into very specific rhetoric patterns.

Arguments for continuation tend to parse thus: "If we leave, WE KNOW this, this and this will happen." However, very little reasoning is brought forth to support what we allegedly know about the future.

Arguments for ceasing an action tend to parse thus: "Since we've been there, this, this and this has happened. We need to leave, so that they will stop." At best, we can only stop our own involvement, thereby removing ourselves as an enabling factor.

A country that has known war will limp into its next phase in history whether the aggressors win, lose, or walk away. The only way to avoid this is to avoid aggression, avoid going to war in the first place. Since this isn't an option (nor was it ever an option), I have to place myself in the anti- camp. We must remove ourselves militarily from Afghanistan, and usher in the next uncomfortable stage of that country's history. There cannot be a chance of growth until we leave, and I'd rather give the country a chance to change, for better or worse, than to give it no chance at all.

A very strong reason from someone who remembers the fun in Vietnam: don't do things by half-measures. There are arguments for getting out altogether. There are arguments for going all in (the requested in August 40-80,000 troops plus building up the Afgan police and military to what was asked for (half of what's now planned)).

But only sending in 30,000 with an explicit and short exit timetable is stark raving mad and a terrible crime to all concerned, one that will be paid in blood.

By Lina Inverse (not verified) on 03 Dec 2009 #permalink

While I actually think that Obama is correct with his assessment and proposed action my comment is less to do with that than with the "shock, shock I say!", of many on the Left (not you revere) with the fact that Obama is doing exactly as he said he would during his election campaign. Were these people not paying attention? Obama stated clearly that if elected he would move troops out of Iran and more into Afghanistan and be willing to even pursue into Pakistan if needed to reduce Al Queda threats. Now, when he does that, they are disappointed that he said what he meant? Same thing happened with his unwillingness to dig for crimes committed by the bush crew - it was what he said before his election yet some on the Left were united with the Right in believing that he was just saying things he didn't really mean - that he was talking like a moderate but that he actually had an extreme Left agenda. Nope, he really is pretty much a moderate and is following through exactly as advertised.

I amn cross publishing this piece on my blog, thebrainpolice because, I am capable of only so much sane thought on this matter at this time and this says much more than I am capable of mustering coherently....
Thank you, Mr. Revere!

Everyone would prefer a non-military solution. Too bad nobody can come up with one.

And the British ultimately won in Afghanistan. People who learn all their history from Victorian paintings often do not realize this.

* Human cost of war.
Well, war is violent and bloody. This is news? What isn't being considered is the cost of Taliban occupation. The beheadings of people who don't cooperate, pay taxes to thugs, the rape and killing of of women, the slow pain of the female half of the population, the slow burn tribal wars and violence because a subset of armed fundamentalists would rather be bloody handed kings in the 15th century than citizens in the 21st. Yes, thousands will be killed and maimed in war. But it is the area under the curve that counts and a smaller number over a much longer period, Taliban plan to rule forever and have plans of a Caliphate over all Muslim lands, of time.

* Economic cost of war: Each soldier in Afghanistan costs U.S. taxpayers $1 million per year. Private military contractors, known to de-fraud the Pentagon...

Seeing as that waste by military contractor would still be rampant if we got out of Afghanistan it sounds to me like the real solution is to clean up the contracting and procurement system and substitute US soldiers for the mercenaries.

* U.S. economy in recession
Unfortunately wars often come in economic hard times. Hitler got into power largely because of economic chaos in Germany after WW1. Thugs, tyrants, nationalists and fascist all bloom in the fertile soil of economic hard times. Get used to it.

* Corrupt Afghan government with warlords in power
Again, our getting out won't make the Afghan power structure and political system any less corrupt. Fact is that the Taliban target the least corrupt and most effective politicians and leaders. They want to be the only game in town. We can actively back and support honest leaders. But they have to be protected.

* Spread of war to Pakistan:
Gee, your only years behind the curve on this one. Pakistan has been fighting a war for years. The Fundamentalist incursions and counterattacks by the Pakistan army are an open and vicious war. Sorry if you missed it. Our presence in Afghanistan helps keep Fundamentalists guerrillas in Pakistan from fleeing and regrouping in Afghanistan. Just as the strong action by the Pakistan forces deny safe areas to guerrilla forces in Afghanistan.

* Drone attacks by U.S. and NATO: Drone attacks have resulted in a large percent of civilian casualties and have increased anger toward the U.S., thus ensuring new recruits to terrorist organizations.

Yes and no. Pakistani views of the strikes have changed over time and vary by location. There was widespread outrage over strikes years ago and they were seen as violations of Pakistani sovereignty. But even back then people who were invaded by and placed under Taliban/fundamentalist control were far less incensed and were inclined to see them as beneficial and for years, because at the time the Pakistani military were more inclined to capitulate to them, they were the only thing actively resisting the fundamentalists.

The numbers of people who see the strikes as productive, or at least as something less than outrageous, has increased as the fundamentalist have made major military advances, have committed egregious acts of terrorism and more of the Pakistani public are exposed to them and see them as a threat.

* War aid misdirected:
Sounds like a good argument except when you happen to look at a map. Fact is that here are precious few all-weather roads in Afghanistan. Most that exist were build as parts of US aid programs. And there are only a few practical routes. Mountain passes and other immovable terrain tell you where to build. Any road built for military purposes will be used by civilians because both groups are going to the same places.

Civilian building programs will certainly have the loin's share of development serving the interest of the local powers. The major warlords and clan leaders will always make sure the roads go where they want them and that development serves their interests before that of the lesser clans and poorer people. Military directed and civilian building programs end up the same way. The difference is that a man with a gun always pays less because he has leverage in a negotiation.

* War funding contradiction: Taliban are paid by U.S. military contractors to protect military supply routes.

The Taliban doesn't have exclusive memberships. Loyalty is a matter of prospects and money. The Taliban often pays people to plant bombs and snipe at US forces. For around $10 a day US forces buy the services of gunmen who will work for us until paid more by someone else. More US and coalition forces would make us far less dependent on hired gunmen. As would a reinforced, retrained, well paid police and Afghan army which would provide a steady income and employment.

There is also the simple fact that unarmed civilian building programs will have to pay off the Afghan powers that be. Aid workers don't live and remain free for long without armed escorts. Bodyguards who are friendly today and Taliban tomorrow. Depending on who pays.

* Public opinion: More than half of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan.

A better informed citizenry with a real-world awareness of history and military affairs would make it clear we aren't going anywhere. Notice that withdrawal in the near term wasn't even on the table. Lots of really good reason for that. Get to know them.

"there are no signs of democracy or improved status of women since the war began."

That is an outright, bald-faced lie. No signs??? How many girls and women were attending school before the war? And how many now?

Richard: Not a lie but a clear difference in interpretation of evidence. The only province under control of the gov't is Kabul. Every other province (I think there are thirty or more but I don't have it in front of me) is as it was before or worse, because of instability and violence. As for democracy, that's also another discussion. There is a reason people talk about the "fog of war."

The number one reason to withdraw militarily from Afghanistan:

The costs of the war are very real and widely underestimated while the benefits are intangible, argumentative, and grossly overestimated.

Google Matthew Hoh.

By dom youngross (not verified) on 06 Dec 2009 #permalink