Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is in Washington this week to meet with the
Obama administration and Congress about the status of the war. Despite
the platitudes coming from both sides, the conflict is intractable and
there is no military solution. President Karzai is well aware of this,
which is why he is organizing a peace gathering (called a jirga) in
Afghanistan starting on May 20 to set the ground rules for negotiating
with the Taliban and other armed insurgents.
After much pressure by Afghan women, 200 of them have won the right to
be represented at the 1,200-person peace jirga. CODEPINK supports the
jirga as a step in the process of negotiating a settlement and the
reintegration of insurgents while demanding respect for women’s rights.
This is a delicate process that requires the full commitment and energy
from the U.S. government. Instead, our government is focusing on a new
military offensive. The looming June military attack against Kandahar
will undoubtedly lead to the death of more innocent Afghans; it will
lead to the spilling of more of our soldiers’ blood; and it will lead to
more resentment and blowback against us, as we saw in the attempted
Times Square bombing.
Just look at what happened in Marjah, where February's offensive left locals feeling more negative about NATO forces
than before the operation. Unlike Marjah, Kandahar is one of
Afghanistan’s largest cities and the potential for massive civilian
casualties is frightening. Tribal leaders and the public in Kandahar are
strongly opposed to the forthcoming attack.
We call on President Obama , the Commander-in-Chief, to call off
the Kandahar offensive and instead focus on peace talks. We need
President Obama to protect us from terrorist attacks here at home, not
wage endless wars overseas.
We call on President Karzai to promote a reconciliation process that
ensures Afghan women a prominent place at the table and protects
women’s rights. President Karzai should also promote economic policies
that provide jobs for women, especially the over one million war widows
who are desperately trying to care for their children.
We call on Congress to stop funding the war. Congress has been
asked by the Administration to approve a $33 billion supplemental
request. The money is supposed to pay for the 30,000 additional troops
President Obama ordered to Afghanistan in December and are now starting
to arrive for the offensive. Congress must take a stand and refuse to
fund the war.
We also call on our Congressional
representatives to co-sponsor the McGovern-Feingold
bill (HR 5015, S.3197)
requiring the President to provide a plan and timetable for "the safe,
orderly and expeditious redeployment of US troops from Afghanistan." There are
presently 82 co-sponsors of this bill. We hope over 100 representatives
will sign on, and the bill will generate a long overdue Congressional
debate about the need to end this war.
We call on the American people to join us in calling for jobs,
not war. After 9 years of U.S. occupation, Afghanistan remains one of
the poorest countries in the world. They need jobs, not war. The
American people are suffering from the worst economic crisis since the
Great Depression. We need jobs, not war. With just a fraction of the
over $270 billion we have spent on this war (www.costofwar.com),
we could be creating millions of jobs for both Americans and Afghans.
Let’s demand that our leaders put an end to this war and instead protect
us here at home. Let’s tell them our national security includes a good
education system, clean energy, healthcare and putting people to work in
productive jobs that improve the lives of our communities.