Presidential Understatement on Afghanistan

by JUDITH LeBLANC

On May 1, in a televised address from Afghanistan, President Obama said, “There will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over.”

That’s an understatement.

In fact the current US policy in the region demands of the Afghan people a massive sacrifice as well.

Without a new strategy — not the slow downsizing of the Afghanistan war over the next decade — there will indeed be difficult days ahead.

Instead of helping, the continued US presence jeopardizes the Afghan people’s future, as it does our future here at home.

The future of the Afghan economy and its people’s aspirations is stalled by the unwillingness to leave sooner rather than later. Corruption and graft are bred by US funding and the occupation.

Furthermore, the US has no clear strategy for a negotiated peace or a framework for sustainable economic development in Afghanistan.

Today, two-thirds of the US people across the political spectrum want the war to end now. In poll after poll they readily connect the government’s ability to deal with the economic crisis in our communities to ending the war.

The longer the troops stay in Afghanistan, the more desperately needed resources will be withheld from our cities, schools, libraries and hospitals.

The projected 2013 price-tag for the war will be $88 billion dollars, while unemployment hovers at 10 percent and triple that among young people of color. The current Pentagon budget is $800 billion a year without a real cut in sight.

As long as the troops stay in Afghanistan, and the US pursues a militarized foreign policy, the possibility of US sustainable economic development and a stronger democracy is as impossible here as it is in Afghanistan.

The White House fact sheet issued along with Obama’s speech emphasized that the Strategic Partnership Agreement itself “does not commit the United States to any specific troop levels or levels of funding in the future, as those are decisions will be made in consultation with the U.S. Congress.” And funding from Congress will be requested on an annual basis to support the training, equipping, advising and sustaining of Afghan National Security Forces.”

The agreement just signed leaves us with the yearly Congressional fight over funding the war. A full-throated, massive pressure campaign is needed.

That’s where we have to draw the line and make the fight in the next few weeks to cut the Pentagon budget and for a negotiated peace, not a prolonged downsized war.

The Congressional elections will be the battleground for exerting the popular opinion of ending a war that is not only unwinnable but in fact is a roadblock to both the US and Afghan people from achieving a decent life, schools, healthcare and jobs.

President Obama said in his speech to the nation, “Others will ask why we don’t leave immediately. The answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize.”

But the underlying problems in Afghanistan are little served by foreign armies and military “solutions.” The reality is that until the US and NATO forces leave Afghanistan both the Afghan and US peoples will have more than a few difficult days ahead. We’ll have difficult years ahead.

Judith Le Blanc is the Field Director for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the US.  She can be reached at: jleblanc@peace-action.org.

 

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
Dmitry Kolesnik
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone