For Immediate Release
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, 508-769-2138
CODEPINK Denounces Obama Plan for Afghanistan
Calls for reallocation of war funds in American needs, rapid withdrawal, diplomacy
WASHINGTON - At a time of sky-high unemployment, rising cost of living and lower wages, and outrageous corporate bail-outs and bonuses, CODEPINK Women for Peace condemns President Obama's announced plan today on Afghanistan, which will continue to drain billions from on our economy, further destabilize the Middle East and Central Asia, and threaten worldwide security. CODEPINK calls for a reallocation of war funds into the needs of the American people: health care, education and infrastructure, a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the closing of bases, and tireless diplomatic engagement with Afghan and Pakistan governments.
The strategy, which calls for an increase of 4,000 combat troops and spending 60 percent more than current levels of $2 billion per month, will fuel the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, increasing their numbers. It will also lead to more civilian deaths -- in 2008, amid U.S. military operations, civilian casualties climbed 40 percent. In addition, the planned American civilian official and corporate private contractor "surge" of more than 900 will further alienate Afghans, who increasingly view the U.S. as an occupying force, lead to greater insurgent activity and decrease security, while boosting American corporate profits.
"Sending more Americans to kill and die in a quagmire in Afghanistan is a tragic mistake," said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. "Obama needs to live up to his promise of change by reversing course - focusing on negotiations and bringing our troops home."
Americans do no want, nor can they afford, another war without end. A USA Today/Gallup Poll earlier this month found 42 percent of Americans felt the Afghanistan war was "a mistake," an increase of 30 percent earlier this year and 34 percent in August 2008. The six-year Iraq War has cost the U.S. $600 billion.
Anger and resistance to escalated occupation in Afghanistan has begun to brew in Congress, as last week, 14 House Republicans and Democrats sent Obama a letter urging him to "reconsider" his order deploying 17,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, and that "any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States."
For interviews and more information, please call Jean Stevens, national media coordinator, at 508-769-2138 or Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, at 415-235-6517.
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.