Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Follow-up

ErnestO, who frequently adds his comments the The Buddha Diaries, forwarded the appeal below to me. I'm posting it here not because I necessarily agree with every part of the position it urges, but because I think it's a call to conscience that needs thoughtful engagement.

This is a critical moment to raise your voice on the deepening U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced his decision to send 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, stating that this increase "is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation." Currently there are 37,000 U.S. troops.

This action comes on the heels of last week's action by the President to order a full strategic review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That review is to be completed before a summit of NATO leaders in France in April.

While the Obama Administration should be affirmed for undertaking a comprehensive review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, the deployment of additional troops before the review is complete risks the U.S. getting into a deeper war quagmire.

Security is an extremely serious concern in the country, yet even if a troop surge could address violence in the short term, it will be short-lived without building the deeper foundations for peace. A shift in U.S. policy in support of a diplomatic and development surge has far greater potential for such long term stability.

Several months ago, Afghan President Karzai called on the U.S. and NATO to draft troop withdrawal plans. Recent public opinion polling in Afghanistan, released 2/9/09, (click here to read article) shows a significant drop in the perception that the U.S. has performed well in Afghanistan, from 68% in 2005 to 32% now. Many analysts are suggesting that reducing the U.S. military footprint could be one of the most effective measures to weaken the armed opposition

The situation in Afghanistan is volatile and complex. Pax Christi USA's next membership letter (March 09) will be dedicated to examining the situation in Afghanistan. For now:

TAKE ACTION: First, contact the White House hotline by phone: 202-456-1111, or email: Affirm the President's order for a full review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan, and express opposition to sending 17,000 more troops. Urge a new approach on Afghanistan -- one that strengthens diplomacy and development -- instead of an over-reliance on military strategies.

Second, we need to influence the public conversation on Afghanistan. Write Letters to the Editor, post comments on blogs, call radio talks shows. The message: 1) We affirm the President's full review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan. 2) We are opposed to sending 17,000 additional troops. 3) Diplomacy and development are our best hopes for a peaceful and secure Afghanistan.

We must act now. Forward this action alert on to anyone else you know who will take action.

We have seen how ineffective the spiral of violence has proven in Afghanistan. It is time for an approach that utilizes strategies of nonviolence to bring peace to that long troubled country. Let us help to make the change we believe in possible by acting today. Thank you!

In peace,
Johnny Zokovitch
Director of Communications, Pax Christi USA

While I think that President Obama, in the many horrible situations he has inherited, needs our engaged support, I also believe that he should be--and is--open to criticism and question. As my last post suggested, I am myself not convinced of the wisdom of the path he is choosing in Afghanistan. Thanks, ErnestO!

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