Letter to Rep. Susan Davis urging for an accelerated US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and negotiations

Dear Representative:

As a voter and an associate member of the Veterans for Peace (VFP), I am urging you to pressure the Administration for an accelerated withdrawal of the US Armed Forces from Afghanistan and open negotiations with the militant insurgency and regional political and military powers in order to bring an end to the Afghanistan War. My call for withdrawal is supported not only by the active and growing community of VFP members but by the majority of the American people as indicated by a Washington Post- ABC News poll [1], which says that 64% of US citizens consider that the war is not worth fighting and 73% think that we should have withdrawn combat forces from Afghanistan this summer.

October of 2011 will mark the tenth anniversary of the “war on terrorism” campaign in Afghanistan which took nearly 1700 lives (13000 wounded) of US soldiers [2]. This toll is continuing to mount despite the study “How Terrorist Groups End” conducted by the RAND corporation in 2008, which concluded that military actions against terrorists groups, such as al-Qaeda, is ineffective in most cases in comparison to the operations of the police and intelligence agencies [3]. Yet an army of nearly 100,000 US troops and a comparable number of private DOD contractors [4] continue to occupy a sovereign foreign nation to fight what is known to US government officials to be less than 100 al-Qaeda members (~400 in both Afghanistan and Pakistan) [5] and the Taliban who never intended to commit the acts of terror in the US regardless of their hosting the al-Qaeda training camps prior to 2001.

The war in Afghanistan, started without U.N. authorization, could have been avoided had the US government provided the Taliban government in 2001 with evidence of bin Laden’s guilt in the 9/11 attack [6]. The current US administration has taken the route of building upon the previous administration’s mistakes by escalating the war and ignoring the Taliban’s offer in 2009 to give legal guarantees that it would not allow Afghanistan to be used for attacks on other countries in exchange for a timetable for NATO’s troop withdrawal [7]. At the same time, Major General Michael T. Flynn, the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan, stated that the Afghan insurgency can sustain itself indefinitely [8]. This strongly indicates that the Afghanistan catastrophe does not have a militarily solution, especially when confronted by the reports that Pakistan orchestrates and funds the Afghan insurgency [9].  As a result, two years later Washington is attempting to save face by conducting clandestine negotiations with a strengthened Taliban [10, 11] in addition to continuing the deception of the American public regarding the progress in the war effort.  Instead the administration could be spearheading open, full range negotiations between the region’s major political and military forces which will ultimately define Afghanistan’s future.

The blunt military action is devastating to Afghanistan: violent civilian deaths exceed 2000 per year while 10% of the population is internally displaced. Spurred by the escalation in the number of NATO forces, 2010-2011 marked the bloodiest period in the history of the war in both the number of attacks and civilian fatalities [12] – all of which is leading to the increasing support of the oppressive Taliban among the general Afghan population [13].

The occupational wars are bankrupting our country. Since 2001 the war on terrorism cost more than $1.23 trillion [14]. Amidst the budget crisis US citizens are becoming increasingly aware, via a growing network of non-profit internet-based public media that the DOD/War appropriations account for the vast majority of the discretionary budget spending and significantly contributing to the national debt [15]. These policies cannot continue, and anyone in Washington, D.C. who is inclined to think otherwise is simply out of the touch with reality and their constituency.

References:

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/poll-nearly-two-thirds-of-americans-say-afghan-war-isnt-worth-fighting/2011/03/14/ABRbeEW_story.html

[2] Afghanistan Index: Tracking Progress and Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan. http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/afghanistan-index.aspx (Figures 1.23, 1.27)

[3] “How Terrorist Groups End, Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida”, RAND Corporation Monograph Report, ISBN/EAN: 9780833044655; http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/index1.html

[4] Afghanistan Index: Tracking Progress and Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan. http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/afghanistan-index.aspx (Figures 1.1, 1.15)

[5] Interview with the former CIA director (currently DOD secretary) Leon Panetta http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIb7uD90POU.  Estimated number of al Qaeda in Pakistan is ~300. David E. Sander and Mark Mazzetti, “New Estimate of Strength of Al Qaeda is Offered”, New York Times, July 1, 2010.

[6] U.S. rejects Taliban offer to try bin Laden. http://articles.cnn.com/2001-10-07/us/ret.us.taliban_1_abdul-salam-zaeef-surrender-bin-taliban-offer?_s=PM:US 

[7] US silent on Taliban’s al-Qaeda offer. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KL17Df02.html

[8] State of the Insurgency: Trends, Intentions and Objectives, by Major General Michael T. Flynn. http://www.defensestudies.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/isaf-state-of-the-insurgency-231000-dec.pdf

[9] THE SUN IN THE SKY: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PAKISTAN’S ISI AND AFGHAN INSURGENTS,Matt Waldman.  http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Documents/2010/6/13/20106138531279734lse-isi-taliban.pdf

[10] AP EXCLUSIVE: US-Taliban talks were making headway http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_AFGHANISTAN_TALKS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-29-07-15-29;

[11] Major-General Richard Barrons puts Taleban fighter numbers at 36,000 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7047321.ece

[12] Afghanistan Index: Tracking Progress and Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan. http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/afghanistan-index.aspx (Figures  1.19,  1.23, 1.30)

[13] Afghanistan Index: Tracking Progress and Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan. http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/afghanistan-index.aspx (Figures  4.4)

[14] The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11. March 29, 2011 http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf

[15] Dicretionary budget – FY 2011. National Priorities Project.  http://nationalpriorities.org/en/resources/federal-budget-101/charts/discretionary-spending/discretionary-budget-fy2011/