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December 1, 2009
9:44 PM

CONTACT: Peace Action

Paul Kawika Martin,

Largest Peace Group: Afghanistan Needs Transition Not Escalation

WASHINGTON - December 1 - Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots peace group, expressed disappointment at the Obama Administration’s announcement to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan beyond the extra 21,000 the President approved earlier this year.

“30,000 more troops in Afghanistan will fail to substantially increase security, to stop violent extremists and to make Americans safer.  It’s time to transition from more military to investing in diplomacy, development and economic stimulus that creates long-term stability in the region,” stated Paul Kawika Martin, the group’s policy and political director.  Martin hoped that action will match the President’s words on increasing agricultural assistance in Afghanistan.

Polls have shown Americans increasing their opposition to the Afghanistan war.  Over one hundred cities are holding protests or vigils today or tomorrow against troop escalation.  According to the website, nearly 80 Members of Congress oppose troop escalation and dozens more express skepticism.

The group said that starting to bring troops home in July of 2011 is too long. Martin, who recently returned from a seven-day trip to the country, added “until the Karzai government realizes that foreign forces will leave, there is little impetus to engage in a comprehensive peace process with internal Afghan power holders like the Taliban and regional powers like Pakistan, India, Iran and China.  It’s only such a process that will stop the decades of conflict that Afghans have suffered.”

With Americans still suffering from high unemployment, the organization questioned whether the skyrocketing costs of war is paying security dividends.  Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes claims that if you include interest on debt, veterans benefits and other costs to society, then the total costs for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could top a staggering $5 trillion to $7 trillion.

“It would be far more economical and effective to invest in reducing Afghanistan’s 40% unemployment and 70% illiteracy rate and bring Afghans out of poverty — one of the root causes of violent extremism,” concluded Martin.

Founded in 1957, Peace Action, the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.

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