Monday, October 27, 2008

In Support of a Negotiated Peace

The United States has been at war with Afghanistan for six years. The original intention of the war with Afghanistan was to find and capture Osama Bin Laden. In the years since the original occupation of Afghanistan, the war with Iraq has eclipsed both national and international attention, leaving Afghanistan as America's forgotten war. Much like Korea was in the 1950's, the United States is engaged in a war it cannot win against an enemy it cannot defeat. Recently, rhetoric by both the Democratic and Republican Presidential campaigns has been actively calling for a troop surge in Afghanistan. In addition to costing the United States more money that we cannot afford to pay, this foreign policy decision ignores the obvious repercussions of an extended and increased war with Afghanistan.

These factors, which seem obvious to the average resident of Afghanistan, a country that has been bombed into the stone age, seems to escape the leaders of the free world, the policy wonks at the pentagon, and most of the corporate media. The simple equation goes something like this, more bombs and more military equals more resistance and hence more enemies to be defeated. In this case the enemy is the Taliban, a right wing fundamentalist reaction to Soviet occupation and failed US foreign policy. Here in the United States of America, the Taliban has been labeled public enemy number one, and for the past six years we have been pouring tens of billions of dollars annually into defeating an enemy that was created out of our own failed international policy under the Reagan administration.

Today the Taliban numbers in the thousands or perhaps tens of thousands and is perceived as a real threat to both the United States and the occupying administration in Afghanistan. Although the US death toll remains relatively low in relationship to the war in Iraq, the death toll could mount significantly if US forces are redirected to that area or even brought in from further depletion of US reserves based stateside or in other parts of the world. In addition, the people of Afghanistan are tired of US occupation. They have been occupied continuously by one or another occupying foreign power since 1979. Afghanistan is a country that has not known peace in almost two generations.

The specter of fear and nationalism lives on in the long tried US war on the Taliban. It is now 2008 and the United States still hasn't caught Osama Bin Laden, but we have managed to destroy an entire country. The international community is calling on the United States leadership to step back from its rhetoric about increasing the troops in Afghanistan. They are calling for a negotiated peace, led by the United Nations, between the United States and the powers that be in Afghanistan. For every day that we stay in Afghanistan, for every bomb we drop, for every gun we fire, for every civilian we torture and for every innocent villager we accidentally kill we create yet another recruit for the Taliban and make the resistance to US occupation that much stronger.

It is time for the United States to remove its forces from Afghanistan and bring the troops home now from the Middle East. The failure of US leadership for the past eight years has been obvious to the entire international community. We are behaving as an occupying power and have not succeeded in our missions. We never found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we never found Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and yet somehow US foreign policy continues to occupy these two zones, taking hundreds of billions of dollars from our national budget at a time of looming economic recession when Americans need jobs at home and investment in America. Now is the time for a negotiated peace and an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

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