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Afghanistan Talking Points

NEW: Download and distribute our Afghanistan: Seven Hard Questions Info Flyer, Adapted from Teach In on War Remarks By David Swanson
In the wake of Obama's announcement to escalate military operations in Afghanistan with 30k more troops in 2010, we have found these articles and analyses very helpful when trying to get a handle on the Administration's reasoning for a surge of violence:


Sending troops to Afghtanistan will:

  1. Prop a corrupt Karzai government which is largely viewed as totally unrepresentative of the people of Afghanistan — thereby widening the distance between the government and its people and making the goal of democracy further unattainable
  2. Provide the Taliban greater recruiting power and legitimacy since locals view US/ NATO troops as "occupiers" of their land
  3. Not help the US find Al Qaeda targets, who are now rumored to have left Afghanistan
  4. Not improve the security situation, the poor economy and erosion in women's rights

According to an August CNN poll, 57 percent of Americans oppose the Afghan war, while Afghanistan's fraudulent presidential election has further eroded both international and domestic credibility of the corrupt Karzai regime. Americans must realize that thanks to their military policy in the region, Afghans now have to contend with warlords and drug traffickers of the former Northern Alliance as well as the U.S. /NATO soldiers and operatives, who are seen as occupiers of their land. One set of oppressors had been replaced by another, according to Malalai Joya, former Afghan MP, who says, ”We are sandwiched between three powerful enemies: the occupation forces of the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban and the corrupt government of Hamid Karzai." And there is no question in her mind that the "United States should go, too. As long as foreign troops are in the country we will be fighting two enemies instead of one."

The roughly 68,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan cost us $60.2 billion on an annual basis, and while approximately 800 + US soldiers have died in this conflict, the latest U.N. report finds more than 1,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in the first six months of this year, an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2008, mostly due to air strikes in civilian areas. So while the US is trying to avoid greater troop casualties, it has relied heavily on air power and drone strikes, which have inevitably resulted in innocent civilian deaths. Far from eliminating terrorist networks, these air strikes have deepened popular hostility -- an increasing numbers of the Afghan population think that attacks on U.S./NATO forces are justified.

Obama must take bold and compassionate action to address the Afghan's real need for health care, jobs, education and security by providing humanitarian assistance through non-governmental organizations, instead of continuing to cripple the country with more years of war. Ending U.S. military intervention in the region is the only way to bring real and sustainable change. It's also the most important way we can begin to mend our relationship with Muslims in the region, and in doing so, help us protect our own security in the long term.

More talking points on key issues include:
American Opinion  |  Effects of occupation  |  Economic issues  |  Women & Afghanistan
Tools for Blogs  |  Additional Resources and articles

American opinion:

  • Congress and the Administration should adopt an exit strategy from Afghanistan based on all-party talks, regional diplomacy, unconditional humanitarian aid, and timelines for the near-term withdrawal of American and NATO combat troops. We must end a war that has no end in sight and continues to drain the U.S. economy, destroy lives and destabilize the Middle East and South Asia.
  • Americans are angry and appalled that the war has become increasingly deadly for its soldiers; July and August were the deadliest months for U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, with 51 U.S. troops killed in August alone.
  • Obama's escalation of the war, including a boost of troops to 62,000 there today, threaten to make a shambles of his domestic economic agenda, including health care reform, as the Vietnam War did to President Lyndon Johnson's presidency.
  • Based on a series of hearings over the past several weeks with U.S., Afghan, and Pakistan military advisers, the Congressional Progressive Caucus concluded that that U.S. funding for war "exacerbates" failed strategies by focusing on military funding and leaving far too little for economic development, institution building, local community funding and skills training.
  • An increasing number of Americans recognize that the U.S. does not have clearly defined goals nor any real, viable strategy. Officials still cannot answer exactly why are we there (military occupation "to defeat the Taliban" is clearly not a valid response, and it is impossible financially, logistically and culturally to "build" a democracy). There will never be success as the goals are impossible.
  • Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, recently called on President Obama to announce a timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and said escalation "is a strategy that is not likely to succeed." Gen. Petraeus told the Associated Press earlier this year that "you don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial-strength insurgency." Top U.S. commander Admiral Mike Mullen even admitted last month that the war is "deteriorating". Even conservative commentator George Will called for the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan.

Effects of occupation (general):

  • Decades of war – going back to the United States' Cold War-era covert involvement in Afghans' war against the Soviets - have contributed to the fragmentation of Afghanistan and its unimaginable poverty as the world's fourth poorest country on the UN Human Development Index.
  • The failure to build the country back up after driving the Taliban out has created a ‘stateless' situation, a governmental vacuum that resurgent Taliban are now filling all over the country.
  • In fact, the Taliban has not been weakened but is stronger than ever and more sophisticated, largely thanks to widespread anger against U.S. presence helping to boost recruitment and increase financial support.
  • Troops cannot defeat an ideology: a RAND Corporation study last year found that only seven percent of terrorist organizations gave up their violent activities as a result of military defeat.
  • The mentality of “occupation” justifies the current US. military take-over of most development and ‘state-building' as well as humanitarian aid, endangering neutral aid organizations and botching the job. Military occupation cannot build a state. Development must come from the bottom up. Desperately-needed aid should not be bartered with villagers for “intelligence” and “cooperation.”
  • The war will lead to more civilian deaths - a United Nations report released earlier this year found the Afghan civilian death toll nearly doubled in 2008 under U.S. and NATO presence, with the U.S. responsible for almost half the deaths.


  • All the related costs such as the ongoing health care for veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the war have put the bill over $1 trillion.
  • Instead of spending billions on weapons, war and drones, the U.S. must instead focus on increased support for regional diplomacy and economic aid, the development of local markets, the creation of job and job-assistance programs, and rebuilding of infrastructure. It must create an overall foreign policy based on building real security through international cooperation and human rights. And then it must turn its attention, and spending, back home.

Women & Afghanistan (more on MADRE's site)

  • Many Afghan women say the military occupation poses a greater threat to women in Afghanistan, where 87 percent are illiterate, 1,600 out of every 100,000 mothers die while giving birth or of related complications, and 1 and 3 women experience psychological, emotional or physical abuse.
  • Despite promises otherwise, U.S. military efforts have not improved quality of life for women. In fact, that the U.S. has improved women's live is largely a myth, a form of propaganda to boost American support for the war. Except for some women in Kabul, life for women has remained the same or deteriorated.

Tools for Blogs

Additional Resources and articles:


Our Allies
Codepinker Janet Weil participates in and takes notes for United for Peace and Justice's biweekly conference calls on Afghanistan and the resistance to the US occupation. If you would like to listen to a call or get more information tn on the Afghanistan working group, please email her at


No end to tragedies in Afghanistan, The Guardian, June 11, 2010

"On Monday 7 June, the Afghanistan war completed its 104th month, becoming the longest-ever war the United States has fought. Costs continue to rise, outpacing that of the Iraq war for the first time last month – a trend that appears likely to continue. Victory is defined too nebulously to substantively measure. Withdrawal timetables have repeatedly been gutted. The future looks as bleak as ever." No end to tragedies in Afghanistan, the Guardian UK (6/11/10)

The Courage to Leave, NY TIMES, June 11, 2010

Afghanistan, the News is Bad, TruthOut, June 10, 2010

Rule of the Gun: Convoy Guards in Afghanistan Face an Inquiry, NY TIMES, June 6, 2010:

Download and distribute our Afghanistan: Seven Hard Questions Info Flyer, Adapted from Teach In on War Remarks By David Swanson

Seven Deadly Sins in Afghanistan, Teach In on War Remarks By David Swanson, April 29, 2010

TARIQ ALI: “Obama's Afghan-Pak Syndrome"

“Thousands of Malalais,” By Cheryl Kozanitas,
December 2009


Bipartisan Group of Legislators Opposes Increasing Troops in Afghanistan, by Mary Susan Littlepage, Dec 3, 2009

Robert Greenwald Discusses Afghanistan War Escalation on The Ed Show, YouTube, December 2, 2009


A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan, By Malalai Joya,, November 30, 2009

Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail' at U.S. Base, NY Times, November 29, 2009

Barbara Lee Still Speaks for Me! By Janet Weil, November 24, 2009

The bravest woman in Afghanistan: An Interview with Malalai Joya, Globe and Mail, November 20, 2009

Johnson's Escalation of Vietnam: A Timeline, Bill Moyers, PBS, November 20, 2009

Murder at Guantanamo? The Strange Death of Mohammad Saleh al Hanashi, by Jeffrey Kaye, TruthOut,
November 20, 2009



Obama's War: Democracy Now! speaks with grassroots activists, scholars, and journalists on the new administration's developing policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the realities on the ground.

Open letter to Obama from Congressional Progressive Caucus, November 17, 2009

Where Will They Get the Troops? Preparing Undeployables for the Afghan Front, by Dahr Jamail
and Sarah Lazare, November 09, 2009

Opium, Rape and the American Way, by Chris Hedges,, November 2, 2009

Killing and Dying in "the New Great Game": A Letter to Members of the US Military on Their Way to Afghanistan, by: Nick Mottern, t r u t h o u t October 22, 2009

Military Reverses Ban On Afghanistan Soldier Death Photos, Huffington Post, October 16, 2009

Overall, Afghanistan More Lethal For U.S. Soldiers Than Iraq (CHART), October 15, 2009

McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax, Truthout, October 15, 2009

Five Myths on Afghanistan, Truth Digg, October 8, 2009

Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad, by Chris Hedges,, September 14, 2009

Afghanistan: What Are These People Thinking?, By Conn Hallinan, September 13, 2009

Deadly Afghan Ambush Shows Perils of Ill-Supplied Deployment, by Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers, September 13, 2009

Why I Opposed the Resolution to Authorize Force, San Francisco Chronicle, by Barbara Lee, September 14, 2009

Afghan War Could Cost Obama Key Supporters, by Tom Hayden, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 2009

Norman Solomon, Institute for Public Accuracy, Exec. Dir. On C-SPAN, “Washington Journal”, Sunday September 13

American Antiwar Movement Plans an Autumn Campaign Against Policies on Afghanistan
By JAMES DAO, August 29, 2009

Press coverage of CODEPINK's media action week

RAWA Photo Gallery: US troops massacre over 147 civilians in Farah Afghanistan. Over 147 innocent civilians, many of them women and children, were massacred when US war planes bombed villages of Gerani and Gangabad in Bala Baluk district of Farah Province on May 4, 2009. (photos of the civilian victims of the May 4 air strike against Farah, Afghanistan)