WASHINGTON - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is challenging American and NATO forces commander General David H. Petraeus' media strategy to shore up support for the war in Afghanistan. General Petraeus appeared on Sunday news shows and gave lengthy interviews to rally support for the war and to maintain troop levels. Kucinich, the leader of the movement in the Democratic Party to end the war in Afghanistan, who recently forced a debate and vote on ending the war, wrote to fellow Members of Congress urging them to consider America's longest war as they meet with their constituents during the August District Work Period.
The full text of the letter follows:
August 17, 2010
As you return home to your congressional district for recess, it is appropriate to reflect on the commitment of billions of dollars and an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to continue the war in Afghanistan. A recent article published in The New York Times announced that General David H. Petraeus plans to press for a slower withdrawal from Afghanistan in response to growing Congressional opposition to the war.
According to the article, General Petraeus and U.S. military officials are "building the case to minimize the planned withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan starting next summer." General Petraeus and senior administration officials are arguing that while we've been in Afghanistan for nine years now, we have only just started "doing this right." A quick look at statistics this year reveals that not much has been going right since we increased our military presence in Afghanistan.
Since January of this year, approximately $104 billion has been appropriated for the war in Afghanistan and over 270 U.S. soldiers have died. The so-called cornerstone of our counterinsurgency strategy is the protection of Afghan civilians. Yet a new mid-year report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan by the United Nations reveals that civilian casualties have risen 31% since this same time last year. The report further reveals that civilian casualties at the hands of the Taliban have sharply risen. According to an article published in The Guardian, U.S. and NATO combat operations in Marjah - our military offensive orchestrated to make the case for an increase in troops - "heralded a wave of Taliban abductions, assassinations, and executions."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced last week that he was establishing a handpicked committee to review two U.S.-backed anticorruption task forces. This, after it was exposed that almost $4 billion in cash - much of it believed to be U.S. taxpayer provided aid - was being flown out of the country in suitcases by his government officials.
Congress has approved another $33 billion to fund the surge in Afghanistan. Afghanistan war funding has been used to support a hopelessly corrupt central government and it comes at a grave cost. Over 1,000 U.S. lives have been lost and thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have lost their lives or have been gravely injured. In the process, we have weakened our own security and well-being here at home. There is no war to be won in Afghanistan. General Petraeus may try to convince us that more of the same is a good idea. But it is ultimately the responsibility of Congress to decide. Please join me in urging for a timely withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and an end to what is now the longest war in U.S. history.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress