Message to Obama, Karzai and Congress: Americans and Afghans Need Jobs, Not War
Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is in Washington this week to meet with the
Obama administration and Congress about the status of the war. Despite
the platitudes coming from both sides, the conflict is intractable and
there is no military solution. President Karzai is well aware of this,
which is why he is organizing a peace gathering (called a jirga) in
Afghanistan starting on May 20 to set the ground rules for negotiating
with the Taliban and other armed insurgents.
After much pressure by Afghan women, 200 of them have won the right to be represented at the 1,200-person peace jirga. CODEPINK supports the jirga as a step in the process of negotiating a settlement and the reintegration of insurgents while demanding respect for women’s rights.
This is a delicate process that requires the full commitment and energy from the U.S. government. Instead, our government is focusing on a new military offensive. The looming June military attack against Kandahar will undoubtedly lead to the death of more innocent Afghans; it will lead to the spilling of more of our soldiers’ blood; and it will lead to more resentment and blowback against us, as we saw in the attempted Times Square bombing.
Just look at what happened in Marjah, where February's offensive left locals feeling more negative about NATO forces than before the operation. Unlike Marjah, Kandahar is one of Afghanistan’s largest cities and the potential for massive civilian casualties is frightening. Tribal leaders and the public in Kandahar are strongly opposed to the forthcoming attack.
We call on President Obama , the Commander-in-Chief, to call off the Kandahar offensive and instead focus on peace talks. We need President Obama to protect us from terrorist attacks here at home, not wage endless wars overseas.
We call on President Karzai to promote a reconciliation process that ensures Afghan women a prominent place at the table and protects women’s rights. President Karzai should also promote economic policies that provide jobs for women, especially the over one million war widows who are desperately trying to care for their children.
We call on Congress to stop funding the war. Congress has been asked by the Administration to approve a $33 billion supplemental request. The money is supposed to pay for the 30,000 additional troops President Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December and are now starting to arrive for the offensive. Congress must take a stand and refuse to fund the war.
We also call on our Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the McGovern-Feingold bill (HR 5015, S.3197) requiring the President to provide a plan and timetable for "the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of US troops from Afghanistan." There are presently 82 co-sponsors of this bill. We hope over 100 representatives will sign on, and the bill will generate a long overdue Congressional debate about the need to end this war.
We call on the American people to join us in calling for jobs, not war. After 9 years of U.S. occupation, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. They need jobs, not war. The American people are suffering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We need jobs, not war. With just a fraction of the over $270 billion we have spent on this war (www.costofwar.com), we could be creating millions of jobs for both Americans and Afghans.
Let’s demand that our leaders put an end to this war and instead protect us here at home. Let’s tell them our national security includes a good education system, clean energy, healthcare and putting people to work in productive jobs that improve the lives of our communities.