Monday, April 12, 2010

Can We Ever Stop That Damned War In Afghanistan?


You remember Darcy Burner. She was a Blue America candidate John, Digby and I-- not to mention our donors and the netroots in general-- really cherished when she ran for Congress in 2006 and 2008. She was largely responsible for changing the narrative about the Iraq War by organizing the Responsible Plan. Currently she's working in Washington trying to connect the Congressional Progressive Caucus to the outside progressive groups trying to work with Congress in building a progressive vision for our country. She was in Los Angeles this weekend and, in between meetings, I persuaded her to do a short post fitting that progressive vision into the Afghanistan kaleidoscope.

Take a look and then take a look at this list of 32 Democrats in the House who took the remarkably courageous stand last June to just say no to President Obama's plan to expand the occupation of Afghanistan. In the next few weeks or so Obama will be back looking for another $33 or so billion to further escalate a tragic and unwinnable war with 30,000 more American troops. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is urging his colleagues to vote against it and there's every reason to believe that the number of Democrats who do so will increase from the 32 last June. Enough to stop the war? No chance. Only the people of this country can do that.

An Open Letter To The American People About The Cost Of The War In Afghanistan

-by Darcy Burner

Let’s talk about Afghanistan for a few minutes. I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing about Afghanistan-- it was kind of interesting in the early days of the war, when we could feel like heroes killing bad guys who flew airplanes full of innocent people into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And it was cool that we freed the women from the horrible oppression of the Taliban so that they could take off their veils and we could see their beautiful eyes, just like the girl in that National Geographic picture. But now it’s been years and years and years and we’re still sending troops and money there and we haven’t found Osama bin Laden yet and you have other things to worry about, like your job and your health insurance and your mortgage and sending your kids to college and maybe someday retiring if you could ever save enough money. I get it-- please forgive my interrupting you for a minute.

But here’s the thing: what we’re doing in Afghanistan is making it harder for you to keep yourself afloat. We’re spending $100 billion a year in a country whose GDP is all of about $13 billion. Or, to make those numbers slightly more understandable, we’re spending $3,571 per person in Afghanistan when those same people have incomes of only about $800 per year. So far we’ve spent almost a trillion dollars-- a million millions-- in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Has it been worth it?

University of Chicago professor Robert Pape, who studies suicide terrorism, has research showing that ninety-five percent of all suicide terrorist attacks in the world are driven by foreign military occupation.

We are being told that we can’t leave Afghanistan until the attacks die down. But how does that work if the motivation behind the attacks is our military presence there?

Is it worth $100 billion per year for the indefinite future for us to have a military presence in Afghanistan, when evidence suggests that military presence is itself a destabilizing factor that increases attacks?

How do we stabilize Afghanistan and return responsibility for the country to the Afghans?

It is possible that the answer should be centered not around the U.S. military, but instead around the women of Afghanistan. But that’s a discussion for another day. 

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At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Dr. Steven Porter said...

When Eisenhower warned us about the danger of the military industrial complex in his farewell address, he was prophetic. War in the USA is big, big business. Our defense budget is more than the rest of the world combined, and we are by far the largest arms dealer on the planet. That kind of money and the Congressional memebers it buys will not stop our addiction to war any time soon. It will be up to the people to stop the processes of special interests making a mockery of our democracy.


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