Afghanistan, Obama’s War, and the Only Acceptable Choice

By Debra Sweet

A recent New York Times article had an unusual angle this morning, at least for them: interviewing Afghanis on how they perceive more US troops. It was so novel, that it only emphasizes how much that question is never asked by those promoting the occupation.

"What have the Americans done in eight years?" asked Abdullah Wasay, 60, a pharmacist in Charikar, a market town about 25 miles north of Kabul, expressing a view typical of many here. "Americans are saying that with their planes they can see an egg 18 kilometers away, so why can't they see the Taliban?"
Over the weekend, McClatchy newspapers reported that Obama has decided to send 34,000 more troops, beginning in March.  The Associated Press reported it would be 4 combat brigades plus support troops, totaling 40,000. 
They projected that Obama would not announce the surge until after his trip to Asia, and after NATO meets on November 23, probably during the Thanksgiving holiday. CNN today reports on what they call tension between the White House and the Pentagon over what the plan will be, and when it will be announced.
Are the "leaks" coming from the Pentagon to force Obama in the direction of troops v. the strategy of un-manned drones and secret operations that Biden favors?  Jim Jones, the president's military adviser, vehemently denied Obama has made a decision. 
The tension is real, as the US war planners are caught between two terrible choices: terrible certainly for the people in the Middle East, and also for their military objectives of extending the US empire. 
PROTEST! The only acceptable choice is removal of the US troops, military support and advisors, private contractors from Afghanistan, an end to the un-manned drone attacks on Pakistan, and an end to support for the military government there.  Occupations for empire, accompanied by torture, killings of civilians, collaboration with warlords, drug dealers, destruction of civil society, and through all this, strengthening the religious fundamentalists indigenous to the region: these all must end. 
Veterans for Peace has issued a call for protest, with which World Can't Wait joins.  As they said in 2008, "we state without doubt: our occupation of Afghanistan is driving the violent opposition to it.  More U.S. troops and more occupation will mean more anger and yet more violent reaction from those whose lands we occupy.  We must rededicate ourselves to ending this cycle of violence."
We add some ideas, developed by Elaine Brower, whose son was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq: Sometime in late November, President Obama will announce plans to expand the occupation of Afghanistan.  World Can't Wait calls on people to unite against any troop escalation, and to demand all troops home now, and to organize events educating the public and calling out the media.
World Can't Wait flyers opposing the surge in Afghanistan (PDF)   ENGLISH   SPANISH
LIST your action protesting the occupation of Afghanistan in November 2009
These actions can be small, and organized quickly over the upcoming days and weeks. They could call attention to the human cost of war. Protests of any kind will help get the word out that despite Obama's "mulling over" this decision he indeed will be sending more troops into Afghanistan. We need to take advantage of this waiting period to draw people out and increase opposition. More troops will be sent to Afghanistan and people cannot be lulled into thinking that he won't do this nor can they accept this escalation once it is announced. 
Visible continued opposition to endless wars/occupations before a troop escalation is announced will provide an opportunity to build for a stronger emergency response once Obama's announcement is made.

Suggestions on how and what to organize:
  • The American Friends Service Committee has been mounting Eyes Wide Open," displaying combat boots and shoes of those killed in the occupations. Contact your local AFSC organization and inquire as to the use of this exhibit. 
  • Create your own exhibit with markers of any kind representing those killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the invasion, with numbers reflecting those either from your home state or if you can, a national representation. You can use cardboard, poster board, or wooden markers. Set it up in any location in your town or city.
  • Use a smaller representation for those killed, such as 10 pair of combat boots and shoes or photos representing civilians.
  • Congregate at lunchtime or after work for a few hours and read the names of the dead soldiers and civilians. (file of names will appear here November 11.)
  • Stage a "wedding party" protest similar to those in early October in New York and San Francisco, demonstrating to the public and media how US drones are killing innocent people.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil, or a street protest about the need to resist and oppose the coming escalation in Afghanistan.
  • Pick a location in your town or city where you can stand with signs along a busy street or intersection denouncing the wars/occupations and upcoming troop escalation.
Put out a call to all people and organizations who might want to join in any of these types of actions. Ask people to come and read the names, bring candles, help set up combat boots and shoes.   These could be similar to "flash mobs" or quick actions that don't take much time, but are visible and media worthy.

Throwing Women Under the healthcare "reform" bus:
The new healthcare "reform" basically and fundamentally doesn't allow women to buy health insurance with their own money to purchase insurance that covers abortion. This is being declared a victory by Barack Obama, who did not mention the amendment that reduced the number of women who can get abortions in this country.  Nancy Pelosi justified it. Yes -- many representatives objected to women being able to get this coverage, but does that make this program just or acceptable?  Since 1976, federal money has not been used to pay for poor women's abortions, an outrage pushed through by Henry Hyde, and never turned around. This bill spreads that to people who are paying for their own insurance, under a federalized program. This isn't "preserving the federal prohibition" as Obama said -- it's spreading it.
Jody Jacobsen, on RH Reality Check wrote in "Do Catholic Bishops Run the United States Government?"
"Do we live in a theocracy?  Honestly: I would like an answer. From the White House.  From the House Leadership.  And you should want one too. 
And be assured this is not the first time women have been sold in the cause of the "greater good," whatever that is when the rights of half the population are trampled...
I want to know...why are the Bishops running the country?  And have you had enough yet of Democrats that you elect selling you down the river?  Are you angry enough? What are we going to do about it?"


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] Organizers Debra Sweet Afghanistan, Obama’s War, and the Only Acceptable Choice


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.