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For Immediate Release

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Press Release

United for Peace and Justice Afghanistan Statement to the Obama Administration

WASHINGTON -

Tonight President Obama is scheduled to address the nation outlining the direction of U.S. foreign policy on Afghanistan. He is expected to disclose the number of troops that he will withdraw by the end of July, his plan for withdrawing all U.S. troops and his rationale for these decisions.

United For Peace and Justice will evaluate the President’s decisions against our clear stance that all U.S. troops must be withdrawn immediately to allow the people of Afghanistan to chart their own destiny.

There is common agreement from the likes of General Petraeus to Senator John Kerry that a political solution, not the military, is the answer to stability in Afghanistan. After ten years of war it is clear that U.S. military presence is not improving the everyday lives of Afghans and is impeding reconciliation. Coalition troops escalate conflict between Afghans as the population is expected to pick a side against the Taliban who are also Afghans. U.S. military operations have killed and maimed thousands of people including the latest killing of twelve children in late May. Afghanistan’s tradition of independence and the anger caused by U.S. killings of innocent family, friends and neighbors ensure the Taliban has no problem finding fresh recruits.

The cost in coalition deaths is equally unacceptable. Coalition forces have lost 2,156 of which 1,614 are U.S. troops. Thousands of families who will never see their loved ones alive again mourn these deaths. Thousands more struggle daily to understand and support returned soldiers who suffer the mental and physical scars of wars. In perhaps the greatest tragedy, these mental and physical scars push increasing numbers of service members and veterans to commit suicide.

The war is a financial drain. With an estimated 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, in fiscal year 2011 the U.S. has allocated $122 billion for the war in there. That is more than a billion dollars per Al Qaeda operative.  It would be a terrible waste in a boom economy but is senseless when U.S. citizens are suffering deep budget cuts, layoffs, high unemployment and an anemic economy. This waste of resources is not lost on the elected officials most responsible for the economic well being of cities. The U.S. Conference of Mayors representing cities over 30,000 residents has a resolution before the body calling for troops to be brought home and money spent on war diverted to cities and towns for jobs, healthcare and other critical human needs. Confronting the harsh reality of the economic crisis and lack of resources mayors across the country are turning away from the waste of war.

Finally the people of the US have recognized it is time for the U.S. to leave. A June 2-5 ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 73% of participants believe the U.S. should withdraw a substantial number of combat forces and a May 5-8 Gallup poll shows that 59% of respondents feel the U.S. has accomplished it mission in Afghanistan and should bring its troops home. Only 36% believe forces should be maintained there.

It is time for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan and changes its counter terrorism strategy from one reliant on military power to careful multi-lateral intelligence work, law enforcement, diplomacy, and economic development. It is time to change course. It is time to bring our troops and war dollars home.

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United for Peace and Justice was founded, in 2003, to build a coalition of local and national peace and justice organizations to prevent the War on Iraq. The conflicts raging around the world today make it clear that the need to work for peace remains more important than ever. That is why UFPJ reorganized, in 2008, as a network and now operates with an all-volunteer Coordinating Committee, supported by one part-time staff member who assists with UFPJ action alerts, campaigns, and organizing. They meet weekly to manage the ongoing communication and administrative requirements of the network.

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