Sunday, October 10, 2010

End the (9-year) war in Afghanistan!

"When two bulls fight, it is the shrubs and other plants that suffer."

- Afghan proverb
This week the world passed a grim milestone: nine years of the United States' disastrous war in Afghanistan.

The campaign to End the Afghanistan War! calls for a ceasefire, negotiations, and withdrawal of foreign troops:
The U.S.-NATO phase of the Afghan War has been predictably deadly and counterproductive since the beginning. Even U.S. military leaders now concede that there is no military solution to what is at its core an Afghan civil war. Yet, in an era defined by the highest levels of unemployment since the Great Depression of the 1930s, instead of investing in job creation and provision of essential social services, our governments are flushing colossal amounts of taxpayers’ money down the drain of a futile, murderous and destructive war.

Rather than “winning hearts and minds”, the war and long-term foreign military occupation have alienated the Afghan people and fueled deepening and increasingly widespread armed resistance by local communities and the fractured Taliban. A new civilian UN mandate in Afghanistan is needed to create and develop human security. A growing majority of Afghans no longer see U.S. and NATO forces as liberators. Instead, they see Western occupiers as the primary cause of their insecurity and suffering and want them to leave. As the international press reports, “a drumbeat is starting to sound across Afghanistan in favor of talking to the Taliban”.

Instead of the promised peace and security, Afghans are suffering an ever-growing civilian death toll. The corruption of the increasingly unpopular U.S.-imposed warlord/Karzai government, which controls little more than the capital Kabul, is now infamous. The 2010 presidential election has been universally condemned as a fraud. Massive increases in poppy cultivation have further corrupted the Karzai government, warlords and the Taliban, who use the drug trade to maintain their privileges and finance the continuing civil war. By allying with minority non-Pashtun warlords to overthrow the Taliban in 2001 and making them the foundation of the Karzai government, the majority Pashtuns were further alienated from the rulers in Kabul. And, with the exception of Kabul, the values shared by warlords and the Taliban have meant few or no changes for women.

We therefore call for decentralized international days of nonviolent action October 7-10 urging a ceasefire, Afghan and international negotiations, and the urgent withdrawal of all foreign military forces from that beleaguered nation. With actions from vigils, banner drops, conferences and meetings with government officials to teach-ins, demonstrations and civil disobedience, we can move our governments to end this catastrophic war.
An End the War in Afghanistan campaign endorser, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, centered its spring issue of Fellowship magazine on Afghanistan, with four articles available online:
• "Hearts and Minds," an editorial by Fellowship editor Ethan Vesely-Flad, argues that the United States military has failed its own test for being successful in Afghanistan.

• It's Time to End the War in Afghanistan," by David Wildman, the United Methodist Church's executive secretary for human rights and racial justice, lays out the case for why the war is doing more harm than good.

• On Islamic Nonviolence," by Muslim Peace Fellowship founder Rabbi Terri Harris discusses the history and popular misunderstandings of Islam's relationship to nonviolence and nonviolent struggle for justice.

• "The War on Peace: How U.S. Foreign Policy Puts Us All at Risk," by Samina Faheem Sundas, executive director of American Muslim Voice Foundation and past recipient of the FOR Martin Luther King Jr. award, takes a broader view and suggests ways the United States foreign policy as a whole could be reconfigured to truly serve the interests of those we purport to help around the world.

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