On Tuesday, President Obama announced the deployment of 17,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan.
Two decades and two days after the Soviet army withdrew from its disastrous occupation in Afghanistan, it saddens me that we're heading down a path that has ensnared the British empire and the former Soviet Union. What's especially troubling is that Obama, who wisely ordered a fundamental review of US options in that country, is sending troops without even waiting for the review process to conclude. Although Obama insisted in his statement of Tuesday that "this troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review," one has to ask : Why not wait for the results of a comprehensive review that, if conducted honestly, may well determine that the Administration should take military escalation off the table in favor of a non-military regional strategy to stabilize Afghanistan and strengthen Pakistan?
As Tom Andrews, National Director of Win Without War put it, "The first principle for someone who finds himself in a hole is to stop digging, The US policy 'hole' in Afghanistan is not of the new Administration's making. But it is important for the President to consider if adding new US combat forces in Afghanistan, without a new and comprehensive plan, for US policy there, might be digging an even bigger hole."
Escalating the occupation of Afghanistan will bleed us of the resources needed for economic recovery, further destabilize Pakistan, open a rift with our European allies, and negate the positive consequences of withdrawing from Iraq on our image in the Muslim world. Escalation will not secure a better future for the Afghan people or increase US security. How will additional troops help meet the "clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region" that Obama spoke of Tuesday afternoon? We have not received a clear answer to that fundamental question.
Those who support non-military solutions should affect the outcome of the Obama Administration's ongoing strategic review process ends. Write your Representatives. Go to GETAFGHANISTANRIGHT.COM to find ideas for how you might get involved and what you can do.
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Tell your Representatives that the short and longterm costs of this conflict demand alternatives. Tell them that they should think twice before sending young men and women to die in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. The people of this country deserve a national conversation --and oversight--before any decision is made, and before we know what the mission and strategy is.
The decision Obama makes in the coming weeks will tell us a lot about whether his presidency will succeed in restoring America --or, as Win Without War's Tom Andrews warns, dig us into an even bigger hole!
President Obama--don't make this your war!