Next steps in Afghanistan


One of the Obama administration's most important actions has been its decision to thoroughly review U.S. objectives, goals and strategy in Afghanistan. That this is being seriously debated over a period of weeks, with voices heard from all sides and decisions held in abeyance, is a highly significant change from the practice of previous administrations.

As this discussion approaches its end, the call is rising for a decision to consider our country's true security needs and to recognize the need to help the Afghan people rebuild their conflict-shattered lives. Common themes include no escalation of U.S. and NATO troops, a clearly defined exit strategy and support for Afghan-led economic, social and political development.

The latest expression comes from the 300-member executive board of the California Democratic Party, which overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Nov. 15 entitled "End the U.S. Occupation and Air War in Afghanistan." The resolution calls for a timetable to withdraw U.S. military personnel, an end to using "mercenary contractors" and to air strikes causing heavy civilian casualties. It urges President Obama to "oversee a redirection of our funding and resources," increasing humanitarian and development aid. It calls for multiparty talks in Afghanistan to ensure "democratic and legitimate representation," and multiparty regional diplomacy "for safety and stability of neighboring countries."

Wise words from the biggest state organization in the president's own party.

Two bills now before Congress carry a similar message. HR 3699, by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., would bar funds for a troop increase, and HR 2404, by Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., calls for a military exit strategy.

Voices within the administration, including Vice President Biden, have also warned against deploying more troops. Last week U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, who not long ago commanded U.S. troops there, expressed major reservations about increasing troop levels. Obama's call for further clarification of the options he is being offered is also an important development.

A year ago, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, whose members lost loved ones in the 2001 Al Qaeda terror assaults, called for "a drastically revamped U.S. policy focused on diplomacy, negotiation, aid, reconstruction and international cooperation." 

As the administration's review comes to a close, we hope such principles will underlie the president's decisions.

But even if such wise counsel doesn't, inevitably this will be the plan for true security and stability for the region and the United States. And it will continue to be the plan that the U.S. people will continue to embrace and push to fulfill.

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  • Nancy Pelosi should heed the advice of her own California Democratic Party. End this war now. There is only one stage to ending this war. Out now! The United States has no interests, security or other wise, in Afghanistan or any of the 80 other countries in the world where it has military bases and operations all intended to oppress the people. As a long time reader of the left wing press in this country I have never seen such groveling and support for a warmonger like Obama as what I am reading in the PW. Shame! Shame!! Shame!!!

    Thoroughly review my decision not to contribute to this paper until you editorialize in keeping with working class standards for peace.

    Ruth Bradshaw Oakland CA

    Posted by Ruth Bradshaw, 11/21/2009 10:12am (6 years ago)

  • We should also consider the military industrial and energy complexes drive for funding their priorities over the needs of the people in these times of double digit unemployment where funds for public initiatives for jobs are needed especially for the hardest hit, African Americans, Latinos & youth. It is no coincidence that Karl Rove and John McCain are pushing escalation!

    Posted by Rosalio Munoz, 11/20/2009 1:44pm (6 years ago)

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