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ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress "We Need an Exit Strategy for Af/Pak War"

September 9, 2009
Tom Hayden / The Huffington Post

August was the cruelest month for US forces in Afghanistan, with at least 49 killed. The numbers exceeded the previous high of 43, as a result of the new escalation of fighting approved by President Obama. At the current rate, more than 1,000 additional American soldiers will be killed in the next two years. We, the undersigned, believe the US military interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are quagmires that threaten a without end.


1,080 More Americans Could Die on Obama's Watch in Afghanistan
Take Action: Tell Congress
"We Need an Exit Strategy for Af/Pak War"

(September 2, 2009) — Highest-Ever Monthly Total of 49 Americans Killed in Afghanistan in August: American Death Rate Under Obama Could Exceed 1,000 by 2011.

August was the cruelest month for American forces in Afghanistan, with at least 49 killed, not including possible last-minute reports. The August numbers exceeded the previous high of 43 in July, as a result of the new escalation of fighting approved by President Obama.

The President is expected to approve another troop increase shortly, which will inevitably increase American casualty rates in the 18-24 months of "hard fighting" forecast by the Pentagon.

At a rate of 45 American deaths per month, the toll on Obama's watch would be 1,080 additional American deaths through 2011, as the President heads into a re-election.

The total number of American deaths in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war is approximately 800. The number officially listed (PDF) as wounded in action is 3,722, with 2,314 never redeployed to the war zone.

The numbers are understated by, for example, excluding hundreds of private contractors, many of them American citizens, killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Others killed during special operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan may not be included either.

Deaths among US-dominated Coalition forces overall now total 1,293, including 210 from the UK and 126 from Canada.

The real number of Afghanistan civilian casualties is obscured in the fog of war, but has risen to a record high as the US has escalated its forces this year, with the UN Aid Mission figures growing from 684 in the first six months of 2007, to 818 in the first six months of 2008, to 1,013 in January-June this year.

The July UNAM bulletin's appendix noted that "there is a significant possibility that UNAMA is under-reporting civilian casualties." [p. 16] Because the Pentagon frequently casts doubt on whether Afghan victims are truly civilian, the frequent result is, as UNAM notes, "if the non-combatant status of one or more victims remains under significant doubt, such deaths are not included in the overall number of civilian casualties."

•ACTION: A Petition to Take Action Against the War
Published by Tom Hayden on Sep 03, 2009
Category: International Affairs

Region: United States of America
Target: Peace; anti-war; religious; Obama; women; social justice; Human Rights
Background (Preamble):

An escalation of troops to Afghanistan is pending.

We, the undersigned peace and justice leaders, believe that the American military interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are deepening quagmires that threaten a Long War without end.

At the current rate of American deaths in Afghanistan, over 1,000 additional American soldiers will be killed in the next two years of “hard fighting” predicted by the Pentagon as the next phase of a ten year occupation. Another $130 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq now is being rushed through a sleeping Congress. An escalation of even more troops is pending.

Now is the time for an exit strategy to end these wars. The government of warlords, drug lords, and landlords we prop up in Kabul is losing more legitimacy by the day. A majority of Americans – including 70 percent from the majority party – now consider Afghanistan a mistake. Leading national security experts even deny that it’s a necessary war.

If we do not decide to disengage at once, our dreams of domestic reform will be squandered by years of war budgets. Our dreams of clean energy will be buried in wars over oil and pipelines. The global good will extended to our new President will be jeopardized.

We understand how difficult it is to reverse a mistaken course. But that is the leadership we need, not one that continually escalates in order not to lose. We have been there.

• Our government should adopt an exit strategy from Afghanistan based on all-party talks, regional diplomacy, unconditional humanitarian aid, and timelines for the near-term withdrawal of American and NATO combat troops.

• The aerial bombardments of Afghan and Pakistan villages, like burning down haystacks to find terrorist needles, should end.

• Military spending should be reversed in Afghanistan to focus on food, medicine, shelter, the socio-economic needs of the poor, and the dignity of women and children.

• President Obama should keep his pledge to withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2011, and prevent American interference in the forthcoming Iraqi elections.

• The President should oppose any Israeli attack on Iran, which will only inflame the regional and global conflict.

Much as we were inspired by Barack Obama’s election, we will not be taken for granted by the President and the Congressional majority. The historic victories in 2006 and 2008 were fueled by popular enthusiasm and unprecedented voter turnouts that cannot be reignited by e-mail solicitations.

A growing disenchantment with a costly quagmire will threaten all the hopes of 2008. Everything is related now: we cannot afford national health care, housing, and clean energy while spending billions on quagmires across several continents.

We are prepared to create a storm of protest in Congressional districts and close Senate races. We will form alliances with all those whose hope for health, energy and economic reform are diminished by these wars. We will defend dissent in the armed forces and protect our children from the snares of military recruiters. We will reach out to strengthen a global peace movement, especially in NATO countries.

History shows that terrorist threats can come from German cities, African villages, and even homegrown American cells, not simply the caves of Pakistan.

Our security needs cannot be served by provoking the growing hatred of America caused by repeated invasions of foreign lands. We are human beings who refuse to be defined in the world as mindless military drones and Predators.

ARIEL DORFMAN, Author, Duke University

RABBI STEVEN B. JACOBS, Progressive Faith Foundation
REV. GEORGE REGAS, pastor emeritus, All-Saints Episcopal Church
REV. ED BACON, Pastor, All-Saints Episcopal Church
REV. PETER LAARMAN, Progressive Christians United
DR. NAZIR KHAJA, President, Islamic Information Service
REV. JOHN B. COBB, Claremont Theology School
REV. GEORGE HUNSINGER, Princeton Theology Seminary
REV. JAMES CONN, Director, New Ministries, United Methodist Church
REV. JANET EOLLERY MCKEITHEN, Westside Interfaith Coalition
STEPHEN ROHDE, president, Inter-faith Communities for Peace and Justice, Los Angeles

SENATOR JOHN BURTON, chairman, California Democratic Party
KAREN BERNAL, chair, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party
SUSIE SHANNON, Executive Board Member, California Democratic Party
PAUL HAGGIS, film director
SONALI KOHATKAR, Co-director, Afghan Women's Mission
MICHAEL RATNER, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
LESLIE CAGAN, co-founder, United for Peace and Justice
RUSTI EISENBERG, United for Peace and Justice
MICHAEL MCPHEARSON, Veterans for Peace

VAN GOSSE, co-founder, Historians Against the War
MARC BECKER, co-chair, Historians Against the War
BILL FLETCHER, Jr., executive director, Black Commentator, co-founder Progressives for Obama
RICHARD FALK, professor, Princeton University, United Nations rapporteur
LEONARD WEINGLASS, human rights attorney
MATTHEW EVANGELISTA, chair, Department of Government, Cornell University
STANLEY ARONOWITZ, graduate center, City University of New York
JOE FEAGAN, professor, Texas A&M University

GAEL MURPHY, Code Pink, Washington
TIM CARPENTER, Progressive Democrats of America [PDA]
LEONARD WEINGLASS, human rights attorney
GAR SMITH, Environmentalists Against War




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