For Immediate Release
Get Afghanistan Right Week Uncovers Significant Dissent on Planned Escalation
WASHINGTON - Writers, bloggers and activists associated with Get Afghanistan Right
today hailed an outpouring of public debate centered around "Get
Afghanistan Right Week," now in its fifth day. Participants in the week
of coordinated blogging include diverse, influential voices, including
elected officials, peace and justice advocates, and other
Internet-based writers all united in opposition to escalation in
Afghanistan. The group pointed to recent media coverage of their effort
and statements by national leaders as evidence of significant dissent
regarding planned troop increases.
"The incoming administration must get Afghanistan right, and
further militarizing our policy in that country is the wrong way to go.
Looking at most media coverage of this issue, you'd never know that
there was significant public anxiety about sinking more blood and
treasure into the Bush legacy. But the response we've seen to Get
Afghanistan Right Week, both online and in the traditional media,
should convince our leaders to slow down and consider all other options
besides escalation," The Seminal's Alex Thurston said.
So far, blog posts written for Get Afghanistan Right Week
featured prominently on various websites with collective weekly
readerships exceeding 9 million people. In the past week, concern about
plans to add more troops into Afghanistan percolated up into major
- MSNBC host Rachel Maddow's coverage of GetAfghanistanRight.com and of Bob Herbert's January 6 New York Times opinion piece, "The Afghan Quagmire."
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's interview of Alex Thurston, one of Get Afghanistan Right Week's organizers.
- Recent articles on ThinkProgress.org and The Huffington Post about the growing debate on Afghanistan policy, which included coverage of GetAfghanistanRight.com.
leaders, including U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Russ Feingold
(D-Wisc.) have also questioned the wisdom of current and proposed U.S.
policy in Afghanistan.
- In State Secretary-designate Hillary Clinton's confirmation
hearing, Kerry said "I am deeply concerned that, at least thus far, our
policy in Afghanistan has kind of been on automatic. And I made a
promise to myself a long time ago that I would not see all of our
conflicts, ground operations in the context of Vietnam...But I have to
tell you, in the several visits I have now made, escape it as I might,
the parallels just really keep leaping out in so many different
ways....And I think unless we rethink this very, very carefully, we
could raise the stakes, invest America's reputation in a greater way as
well as our treasure and wind up pursuing a policy that is, frankly,
- Feingold also questioned Clinton on future U.S. policy in
the region. "We need to think clearly rather than simply assuming that
more troops is somehow sufficient to turn the tide." Feingold pressed
Clinton and the new administration to explain the purpose and intended
uses of any future troop increases. He recently penned an op-ed piece
for the Christian Science Monitor that warned: "We must target
Al Qaeda aggressively, and we cannot allow Afghanistan to be used again
as a launching pad for attacks on America. It is far from clear,
however, that a larger military presence there would advance these
goals. To the contrary, it might only perpetuate a counterproductive
game of cat and mouse that has led to a steep erosion in Afghans'
support for foreign forces in southwestern Afghanistan, the main
These statements indicate that consensus on Afghanistan, even within the Democratic majority, does not exist.
"If the decisions of the editors, producers and journalists at places like MSNBC and The New York Times
are any indication, consumers hunger for news about alternatives to
escalation in Afghanistan. This aspect of U.S. foreign policy has
largely gone unchallenged in the much of the traditional media, and
unless we're careful, we could see a repeat of the groupthink that led
us into the Iraq debacle. We need continued accountability-focused
journalism to make sure we get Afghanistan right," Thurston said.
To learn more about Get Afghanistan Right Week, visit http://www.