Thursday, May 05, 2011

LA TIMES: "President has gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"

latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0505-hayden-troops-20110505,0,6373006.story

Op-Ed May 5, 2011

With Afghanistan, a moment of opportunity for Obama
The president has gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
.

By Tom Hayden



President Obama has now gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. With an average of 30 to 50 Americans being killed each month in Afghanistan, the total will be well over 1,000 on Obama's watch if nothing is done. In addition to saving lives, removing 60,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2011-12 would also save about $70 billion a year in tax dollars.

The targeted killing of Osama bin Laden is powerful evidence that terrorist threats, both real and hypothetical, can be more effectively suppressed by special forces operations than by deploying hundreds of thousands of American soldiers on the ground.

The Bin Laden operation proves that a counterterrorism strategy focusing on intelligence, airstrikes and special forces units, as advocated by people such as Vice President Joe Biden and conservative columnist George Will, would be an effective deterrent against any new clandestine cells seeking to launch attacks against the United States.

If we are not sending ground troops into European cities like Berlin or London, where terrorist plots are also being conceived, why are there 150,000 American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq? By the strange logic of intervention, shouldn't NATO be occupying Europe?

If the answer in Afghanistan is to fight the Taliban insurgency, that's not a national security threat by any definition. And if the Taliban, for some reason, should wish to host a revived Al Qaeda, U.S. intelligence and special forces would be able to handle the problem.

In Iraq, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, already the largest in the world, is expected to double its staff over the next year to 16,000, not counting a small army of private contractors. In 2003, a supposed threat in Iraq against the United States was trumped up to justify the U.S. invasion. But such a threat is remote and does not require keeping troops in the country as unwelcome occupiers.

Pakistan is another matter. Critics of intervention like myself believe the U.S. only inflames anti-American sentiment, kills innocent civilians and feeds the insurgents by escalating drone strikes there. (Obama, interestingly, rejected such an aerial attack option to get Bin Laden). But it is impossible politically for Obama to pull back from Pakistan now that so much public and congressional opinion is inflamed against that country's possible protection of Bin Laden. Ending the long and secret war in Pakistan will take further public debate, but it could begin with power-sharing talks over Afghanistan.

There is no excuse for not beginning to end these wars one at a time, at vast savings in lives and billions in tax dollars. This is Obama's moment of opportunity. Let the hawks in the Pentagon and the Republican Party call for endless war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama can campaign on ending two quagmires, and on breaking the momentum of the long war on terrorism that some propose. Indeed, the Democratic National Committee, even before the weekend mission against Bin Laden, passed without dissent a resolution by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) calling for a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan starting this summer.

The president must announce two pivotal decisions quickly. First, he has to decide whether to say no to those clamoring for just a token withdrawal from Afghanistan starting in July. He should say yes to the peace bloc of Americans who strongly support the phased withdrawal of 50,000 to 70,000 troops from Afghanistan starting in July and ending more rapidly than the president's hazy goal of 2014.

Second, he has to face down those pushing for the Iraqi government to request that our troops stay past the December deadline. The president should say no to this Iraq lobby, knowing that a residual force of Americans would provoke a new cycle of anti-Americanism in the streets and in Iraq's parliament, and threaten Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's fragile regime.

This is a unique moment for rank-and-file and congressional antiwar forces to seize every opportunity to prevail on the president to make the right decision.

Tom Hayden has taught courses at Scripps College on "the long war on terrorism," counterinsurgency, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. He is the author of "The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama."

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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7 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

What to Do, An Action Plan:

Talking Points for Ending Two Quagmires by 2012



It's time to focus on ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We can and must keep criticizing the drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere, but right now there is a chance to make major progress towards withdrawing the 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan and the 50,000 in Iraq.

For background, see my op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, "With Afghanistan, a moment of opportunity for Obama." Also, please see Larry Korb's Boston Globe article on remembering to get out of Iraq, "Leave Iraq on time, with diginity."

7:45 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Osama bin Laden is gone. It's time to end the war.
Dear Kevin,

With bin Laden dead, our mission is complete.

Help Obama stick to his plan and start bringing home the troops this summer.


With the death of Osama Bin Laden, it's time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring home our troops.

President Obama has already promised to begin a major drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan this summer.1 And now that bin Laden is dead, there's even more reason to end the longest war in US history. After all, President Obama has always said that the goal of the war in Afghanistan was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda."2

But not everyone agrees. Some Conservatives in Congress are already arguing that bin Laden's death proves the war is working, and that we should invest MORE troops, money and time in the region.3

Tell President Obama not to listen to those voices. Sign our petition telling the President he's on the right track with his promise to begin to end the war NOW, this summer.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

It's worth noting that bin Laden was captured not by a full-scale military attack, but by a covert operation of a few soldiers that resulted in no American casualties.

It's exactly why USAction/TrueMajority members have been calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan for years. And now that bin Laden is dead, it's time to withdraw from a war that costs billions of dollars every year and has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 U.S. troops and over 8,000 Afghan civilians.4

Sign now to send that message to Obama - tell him to not just draw-down troops, but seriously end the war starting this summer.

In peace,

Drew Hudson
USAction / TrueMajority


1 - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chellie-pingree/facing-the-future-in-afgh_b_857467.html
2 - http://www.npr.org/2011/05/04/135961688/bin-laden-death-fuels-afghan-war-debate?ps=cprs
3 - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/world/03policy.html
4 - http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/war-afghanistan-osama-bin-ladens-death-spurs-debate/story?id=13521073

9:31 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

As President Obama decides how many troops to bring home and how quickly, add your name to this petition to bring our troops home: "President Obama, we need to end the war in Afghanistan. Please keep your commitment to begin an accelerated withdrawal of troops in July."

Add your name


Dear MoveOn member,
It's already started—hawks in the media and military saying that the killing of Osama bin Laden is proof that the war in Afghanistan is working and that we should redouble our efforts.

Even though bin Laden was captured in another country entirely. Even though the operation was executed by a small, specialized force and not the continued occupation of a nation by over 100,000 of our soldiers. Even though the man we ostensibly invaded Afghanistan to capture is no longer a threat.

And even as the war continues to be a drain on our resources at a time when we need them spent at home, more than ever.

In 2009, President Obama committed to begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan this July. Right now he's deciding how many troops to withdraw and how quickly. The New York Times reports that people in his Administration are divided, with pressure from some senior figures to minimize the withdrawal, and some voices of reason calling for an accelerated drawdown.1

But he hasn't heard from us yet. At this moment of decision, a collective call from hundreds of thousands of Americans to bring our troops home will give the President the public support he needs to begin a swift, safe, and significant withdrawal of our troops. You can do your part by adding your name:
Click here to sign the petition to bring our troops home.

We are not alone in wanting to bring this war to an end. Representative Chellie Pingree has her own petition for a significant troop drawdown, which she plans to deliver to the White House. If we can get over 125,000 signatures on our petition, she'll deliver it too.

She's one of 81 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama, organized by Representative Barbara Lee, calling on him to make a "significant and sizeable" withdrawal of troops this July.

And even before this week, 73% of Americans believed we should be making a substantial withdrawal this Summer.2 So we're joining with other progressive groups who are mobilizing their members to support President Obama in his commitment to bring our troops home.

Can you help reach that goal of 125,000 signatures so we can stand up to the warmongers and have Rep. Pingree deliver our message of encouragement to the White House?

Yes, I can sign the petition to bring our troops home.

–Justin, Adam Q., Eli, Laura, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. "Killing Adds to Debate about U.S. Strategy and Timetable in Afghanistan," The New York Times, May 2, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=208244&id=27213-4797084-wQcpUcx&t=4

2. Washington Post-ABC Poll, March 13, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=208245&id=27213-4797084-wQcpUcx&t=5

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in he

9:34 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

But he hasn't heard from us yet. At this moment of decision, a collective call from hundreds of thousands of Americans to bring our troops home will give the President the public support he needs to begin a swift, safe, and significant withdrawal of our troops. You can do your part by adding your name:
Click here to sign the petition to bring our troops home.

We are not alone in wanting to bring this war to an end. Representative Chellie Pingree has her own petition for a significant troop drawdown, which she plans to deliver to the White House. If we can get over 125,000 signatures on our petition, she'll deliver it too.

She's one of 81 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama, organized by Representative Barbara Lee, calling on him to make a "significant and sizeable" withdrawal of troops this July.

And even before this week, 73% of Americans believed we should be making a substantial withdrawal this Summer.2 So we're joining with other progressive groups who are mobilizing their members to support President Obama in his commitment to bring our troops home.

Can you help reach that goal of 125,000 signatures so we can stand up to the warmongers and have Rep. Pingree deliver our message of encouragement to the White House?

Yes, I can sign the petition to bring our troops home.

–Justin, Adam Q., Eli, Laura, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. "Killing Adds to Debate about U.S. Strategy and Timetable in Afghanistan," The New York Times, May 2, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=208244&id=27213-4797084-wQcpUcx&t=4

2. Washington Post-ABC Poll, March 13, 2011
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=208245&id=27213-4797084-wQcpUcx&t=5

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in he

9:34 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Dear Peacebuilders,



We're late this month, and I apologize! It’s spring in East Tennessee , my brief opportunity to build, hack, and plant before summer’s heat drives me back indoors. But while I dug chunks of concrete out of my garden, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan . While I find it hard to mourn his death, I deplore its cause. John Donne (1572-1631) said, “… Every man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…” (Meditation 17). Even the theology of “just war” admits war is sin, while acknowledging that sometimes it is the least of available evils.



If we can accept, for the moment, the “necessity” of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), we can reframe this event: What a good opportunity to end GWOT! To bring our forces—and all those private contractors—home, to reinvest in education and infrastructure at home and worldwide. That’s one theme we examine in this issue.



The second theme is related, though the connection was not immediately obvious to me. I recently began to study farmer suicides in India . There was a little news coverage in the U.S. recently, but no one connected the dots. Then I heard Vandana Shiva, physicist, ecologist, activist, and advocate for small farmers and the planet. She caught my attention when she said, “Every input in agriculture is a war chemical. Every agrichemical is a war chemical. … Fertilizers came out of explosives factories...” Bingo! After World War II, Monsanto and DuPont needed new markets for stockpiled products. This led directly to the "Green Revolution" of the sixties.



Lastly, beginning with this issue you may notice a difference in presentation; the only articles reproduced in their entirety are those submitted for publication here. Thanks to Bob Rundle and the Thurstins for their faithfulness. The rest of the material will be excerpted and cited, either with hyperlinks or full bibliographic citations. This should help condense the newsletter, avoid duplication, and protect copyright. Perhaps it will encourage more of you to submit items for publication here.



And with that, it’s back to the garden for me. I wish you happy reading and strength for your journey.



Link to May, 2011 Peace Memo: http://www.peacebuildinginstitute.org/peace_memo/archive/pm_vol_3_num_5_5-2011.pdf

9:35 AM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

"Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11," President Obama urged in his Sunday night announcement of bin Laden's killing. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes, "Republicans answered Obama's plea for bonhomie — with broadsides," adding that the GOP's reaction demonstrates some "lawmakers are too preoccupied with their opponents to celebrate the demise of their common enemy."
According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, public support for President Obama has risen significantly following his successful order to track and kill Osama bin Laden. 57 percent of Americans approve of the president's job performance, up from 46 percent last month. The biggest boost in his ratings came from Republicans and independents.

9:47 AM  

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