For Immediate Release
A Call for the U.S. to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Anti-War Group Sends Declaration and 1300+ Signatures to President Obama
NEW YORK - The New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy sent a declaration yesterday to President Barack Obama entitled "We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan!" The text of the declaration is below and a full list of signers can be seen at the CPD website.
"As President Obama nears a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan, we want the world to know that there are millions of Americans opposed to U.S. military intervention in both Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Joanne Landy, Campaign for Peace and Democracy Co-Director. "We are dismayed by reports that the president has already made the decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and is only debating the size of the troop increase. We are making an 11th-hour call on the president to reverse his decision."
CPD Co-Director Thomas Harrison added, "Rather than escalating the war, President Obama should withdraw all forces from Afghanistan and cease the devastating drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan that continue to kill innocent civilians. As we noted in our declaration, military occupation and assaults on the population can only strengthen the Taliban and terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda."
To date 1326 individuals have signed the anti-war declaration, including Leslie Cagan, Former National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice; Tim Carpenter, Progressive Democrats of America; Noam Chomsky; Jonathan Demme, filmmaker; Manuela Dobos, Brooklyn For Peace; Ariel Dorfman, Author; Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History; Carolyn Eisenberg, Brooklyn for Peace; Daniel Ellsberg,; Thomas Fasy, MD, Brussels Tribunal; Irene Gendzier, Boston University; Tom Hayden; Chris Hedges; Doug Ireland, Journalist; Dave Marsh, writer, broadcaster, Charlotte Phillips, MD, Brooklyn For Peace; Peter Rothberg, Mathew Rothschild, Editor, The Progressive; Stephen R. Shalom, William Paterson University of NJ; Alix Kates Shulman, Writer; David Swanson, author of Daybreak; Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University; and Cornel West. (Organizations for identification only.) Additional signatures come in daily, and will be forwarded to President Obama at a later date.
The Campaign for Peace and Democracy has joined with many other peace organizations in calling for support of U.S. Representative Barbara Lee's bill HR 3699 prohibiting funding for an increase in troops in Afghanistan.
As part of its anti-war campaign, CPD co-sponsored a New York City meeting with Malalai Joya, an Afghan feminist and former member of the Afghan parliament who has recently toured the U.S. and Canada calling for an end to the occupation of her country.
In a November 11 op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, Joya wrote, "We are sandwiched between three powerful enemies: the occupation forces of the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban and the corrupt government of Hamid Karzai." http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_13755903 And in a November 19 op-ed for The Star (Toronto), Joya wrote, "The United States should go, too. As long as foreign troops are in the country we will be fighting two enemies instead of one." http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/afghanmission/article/727873---libera...
"The escalating U.S. wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan are all too reminiscent of the early years of the Vietnam War. We need to stop these murderous interventions now," said Joanne Landy. "If President Obama proceeds with escalating rather than ending these wars, we will do all in our power to bring them to an end."
* * *
TEXT OF CPD DECLARATION
We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan!
A Statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Began circulation in October, 2009
This may be a turning point for the expanding U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a time when speaking out clearly and unambiguously against war can make a crucial difference. Today we see signs all too reminiscent of the step-by-step deepening of the U.S. commitment to the war in Vietnam in the 1960's. In response, we declare ourselves firmly against military escalation in the region and for the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan now. We also call for an end to drone attacks in both countries.
There are currently 108,000 U.S./NATO troops in Afghanistan. President Obama has authorized increasing U.S. forces by 21,000, which will mean more than 68,000 U.S. troops by the end of 2009. In view of the war's growing unpopularity, Obama may very well abandon troop escalation. Reportedly, some in the Administration even recommended reducing U.S. forces and focusing more on strikes against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But even a scaled-back military presence constitutes an illegitimate occupation, one that wreaks havoc on the lives of innocent civilians and can only strengthen the Taliban and terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda.
Americans are increasingly disillusioned with the war. According to an August CNN poll, 57 percent oppose the Afghan war, a 9 percent increase since May, and there is growing unease in Congress. The cynical spectacle of Afghanistan's fraudulent presidential election has further eroded what little domestic and international credibility the corrupt Karzai regime retained.
In both Afghanistan and Pakistan the actions of the United States and its allies serve to strengthen fundamentalist forces. Fearing unpopular NATO troop casualties, the U.S. relies heavily on air power, which inevitably results in the death of innocent civilians. Far from eliminating terrorist networks, these air strikes only deepen popular hostility to the U.S./NATO war effort, pushing growing numbers of Afghans and Pakistanis toward the Taliban. Already fully a quarter of the Afghan population thinks that attacks on U.S./NATO forces are justified.
In Pakistan, the war is now being fought with the open and heavy involvement of U.S. Predator and other drones. Because of the frequent killing of civilians by the drones, on top of the resentment caused by Washington's long support of the dictator Musharraf, Pakistani public opinion now rates the U.S. as the number one threat -- ahead even of India, Pakistan's long time enemy.
U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan take place in the context of a global military system much more massive and far-flung than most Americans realize. Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are stationed in approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories -- and the actual numbers are far greater. U.S. military spending of more than $600 billion a year, in the words of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "adds up to about what the entire rest of the world combined spends on defense."
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan have been part of a comprehensive effort to assert U.S. strategic power and credibility, in the Central and South Asian region and globally -- the power to control energy supplies, to overawe rivals, to intervene wherever Washington deems necessary, and to engage other countries in U.S. power projection. Since 2001, the United States has established 19 new bases in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, inserting a military presence into an area that Russia and China also seek to influence.
Afghanistan was a devastated nation even before 2001, due to the destruction wrought by the Soviet occupation and the subsequent civil war. Since then the Afghan people have endured eight more years of war and misery. Many Afghans felt a sense of liberation when the Taliban was driven from power, but it soon became clear that one set of oppressors had been replaced by another: by the warlords and drug traffickers of the former Northern Alliance and the U.S. /NATO occupiers.
The Taliban's misogyny was vicious and extreme, but the situation of women remains horrific. Although a large number of Afghan girls did go to primary school after 2001 and a handful of women did get elected to the parliament, the vast majority of women are still confined to their homes, unable to work, too fearful to attend school and forced into marriages, often as children. Many women who would prefer not to wear their burqas are afraid to be seen without them.
According to Afghan feminist leader Malalai Joya, "Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation." President Karzai signed a disgraceful law earlier this year, applying to Shia women, that gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands. It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, requires women to get permission from their husbands to work, and effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying "blood money" to his victim.
Most Afghans lack access to safe drinking water and medical care. The country remains one of the world's poorest. The U.S. has done virtually nothing to alleviate this terrible poverty; instead, it has added to the suffering of the Afghan people, women as well as men, the constant threat of military violence. The Taliban gains strength in response to the grossly inadequate amount of foreign aid, as well as to the brutalities of the U.S./NATO war.
The Pakistani military and intelligence have long played a double game, taking military aid from Washington while simultaneously fighting and backing the Taliban. While the majority of Pakistanis oppose the Taliban today, underlying conditions enable it to grow stronger. Many of the country's poor live in near-feudal conditions. In the Swat Valley the Taliban was able to exploit the grievances of landless rural tenants for its own reactionary purposes. Unwilling and unable to address the social and economic realities that create support for or at least acquiescence to the Taliban among many in the population, the Pakistani military and elite may well make further concessions to the fundamentalists.
If the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have any chance of defeating fundamentalism, fighting misogyny and winning genuine democracy, the U.S. can help mainly by calling off the inhumane and un-winnable "war on terror," by whatever name, and replacing it with a radically different policy of massive foreign aid and an end to support for elites and governments that perpetuate gross inequalities. Democratic forces may be weak, but they will never grow stronger while the U.S. occupies Afghanistan, sends missiles into Pakistan and bolsters corrupt governments in both countries.
Withdrawal should not mean that the U.S. abandons any effort to help the people of Afghanistan and neighboring states. Washington ought to lend political support to regional negotiations and to a broader settlement of the disputes between India and Pakistan, which continue to stoke the violence in Afghanistan. Above all, the U.S. should provide large-scale humanitarian aid to the desperately poor Afghan population -- which, aid agencies note, is hindered by being intermingled with military operations.
Afghanistan is badly fragmented along ethnic lines. If there is any progressive solution to these divisions it probably lies in regional negotiations among Afghanistan's neighbors. We cannot foresee what form this solution might take, but we know it must not include any political dictation by Washington or the continuation of U.S. troops or military operations in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Ending U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan now is not only right in itself; it is also indispensable as a way to begin countering the bitterness and hostility in Muslim countries that breeds terrorist threats to our own security, threats that arise from networks that are not limited to any specific geographic location. In addition to ending military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States should withdraw its forces from Iraq, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. It must end all support to Arab autocracies and police states and give real support to Palestinian statehood. A truly democratic U.S. foreign policy is desperately needed to address the misery and inequity in Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other countries, but we can only begin to do so by diverting our country's vast wealth away from militarism and the drive for "full spectrum dominance" of the world. We, the undersigned, are dedicated to working for this new foreign policy.
NOTE: The following references are informational, and not a formal part of the above statement. For Afghan support for attacks on U.S. forces, see ABC News/BBC/ARD Poll, Afghanistan: Where Things Stand, Feb. 9, 2009, question 25, . This poll also shows growing opposition to U.S. forces and overwhelming opposition to U.S. air attacks. For poll showing that Pakistanis view the U.S. as the number one threat, see Al Jazeera/Gallup International survey of Pakistan, Aug. 13, 2009, . Afghan feminist leader Malalai Joya describes conditions for women on Znet, May 16, 2009 and in her book Raising My Voice. For details on the new law constraining the rights of Shia women, see the Human Rights Watch Report "Afghanistan: Law Curbing Women's Rights Takes Effect. President Karzai Makes Shia Women Second-Class Citizens for Electoral Gain," Aug. 13, 2009, . For an account of the Taliban exploiting popular grievances in the Swat Valley, see Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, "Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan," The New York Times, April 17, 2009 . On aid agency warnings against intermingling military operations and humanitarian efforts, see Kevin Baron, "Mixing fighting and food in Afghanistan," Stars and Stripes 2009 .
THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY (CPD) advocates a new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy -- one that encourages democracy, justice and social change. Founded in 1982, the Campaign opposed the Cold War by promoting "detente from below." The Campaign sees movements for peace, social justice and democratic rights, taken together, as the embryo of an alternative to great power politics and to the domination of society by privileged elites.