It was 10 years ago today when former President George W. Bush announced the beginning of the war on Afghanistan. It has now has become the longest-running war in U.S. history and there is no end in sight. The Taliban remains in control of major parts of the nation. Peace talks have collapsed. Civilian and troop casualties continue to mount. There have been a number of major setbacks in just the past few weeks. On Sept. 13, militants attacked the U.S. embassy and the NATO headquarters in Kabul. A week later, the Taliban claimed responsibility for assassinating former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed the Afghan Peace Council. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given up on negotiating with the Taliban.
…In 2009, in some of my very first hearings Chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I said, ‘[T]he parallels” to Vietnam “just really keep leaping out in so many different ways.’
That comment caused a political firestorm of sorts—but I defended it, and I’m proud of it. I published an OpEd in the Washington Post that said,
‘We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that we are in anything but a race against time in a region suspicious of foreign footprints. The United States is not in Afghanistan to make it our 51st state.’
Phyllis Bennis’s policy analysis is always impeccable and well-documented. Out Now, TINO.
ByPhyllis Bennis June 22, 2011 | President Obama passed up an opportunity to recognize our democracy and respect the views of the vast majority of the American people. LIKE THIS ARTICLE ?Join our mailing list:
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President Obama’s speech tonight violated one of his most important campaign promises: to “end the mind-set that leads to war.”
To the contrary, his announcement of a token shift of 10,000 soldiers leaving by the end of 2011, and maybe another 23,000 in another year, makes clear that his claim tonight that “the tide of war is receding” remains untrue. The enormous current deployment of 250,000 U.S. and allied military forces (100,000 U.S. troops, 50,000 NATO troops and 100,000 Pentagon-paid contractors) in Afghanistan continues, and reflects not an end but an embrace of the mind-set of war, even with this small shift of soldiers. This was an opportunity for President Obama to recognize our democracy, to acknowledge and – dare I suggest? – even respect the views of the vast majority of the American people. Sixty-four percent of the people of our country believe the war is not worth fighting. When this war began in October 2001, only about 12% of people in the U.S. did not support it. So 64% opposition means a lot of folks have come to that realization now after years of escalating Afghan civilian and U.S. military casualties, years of a collapsing economy, and yes, years of hard-fought anti-war organizing.
The elimination of Bin Laden proves that our nation’s security issues are managed more effectively through political diplomacy and small, targeted attacks than costly mass military action. Our government has spared no expense in carrying out operations with no clear objectives or an end in sight, squandering trillions of dollars in spite of our nation’s economic crisis. Any citizen who is serious about the consequences of our foreign policy, the rule of law, or a true sense of justice needs to ask, has it been worth it? Whether you measure the tremendous costs of these wars in human lives or dollars, our position is that it has not been worth it.
The president claims that, “we can say that justice has been done.’’ But achieving real justice will not happen until the U.S. has removed all occupying forces and returned the right of self-determination to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama administration now has an opportunity to bring our troops home and scale back our military commitments overseas. Americans must reflect on the injustice of our own actions through violating international law, committing torture, suspending habeas corpus, and not holding our own leaders accountable.