War Escalation
as Withdrawal Plan

The anti-war movement responds to President Obama’s speech

The U.S. cannot “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was losing the war when Barack Obama took office. In March 2009, President Obama ordered another 30,000 troops. Rather than reverse the outcome, the U.S. and NATO effort lost even more ground. Now President Obama has ordered another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Attempting to deflect growing opposition to the announcement of his dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is simultaneously claiming that U.S. troops will start to be withdrawn in July 2011.

The Generals and Admirals, and now the White House, are unwilling to accept responsibility for a military setback. The President knows they cannot win and yet is unwilling to leave. Since no leader is willing to take responsibility, they are instead sending thousands more to their deaths.

Bush and Cheney ordered the invasion thinking it would be easy going. They thought Iraq would be easy, too. They were going to wipe out the governments in Iran, Syria and North Korea. This colonial-type fantasy, nourished by “great nation” arrogance and the acquiescence of a caste of corrupt politicians in Congress, set the stage for the current catastrophe of a war without end.

After eight years of war, more than 140 armed insurgent groups of Afghans now exist as a response to the invasion and they control large parts of the country. The people in Afghanistan perceive the occupation as a colonial-type takeover of their country. September 11 was a pretext, but there were no Afghans or Iraqis who hijacked the planes. The people of Afghanistan, like the people in Vietnam, will never accept foreign military occupation in their country.

In the 1968 election Nixon ran on a platform of a “secret peace plan” for Vietnam. In reality, Nixon’s “peace plan” meant more bombing of Vietnam, expansion of the war into Cambodia, and “Vietnamization”—the building up of the South Vietnamese puppet army under the direction of U.S. “advisors.” The puppet army was supposed to do the fighting and dying in the place of U.S. troops in an increasingly unpopular war.

The new plan for Afghanistan calls for more bombing and drone attacks, and “Afghanization”—the building up of a puppet Afghan army trained and led by U.S. commanders. This follows President Obama’s escalation of massive bombing of the people of Pakistan.

Bush Policy—Obama Policy

On January 20, the day that Barack Obama took the oath of office, a government helicopter carrying George W. Bush lifted off and made the ceremonial flight away from the nation’s capital, signaling the end of one era and the start of a new administration.

It was a remarkable event to witness. As the Bush helicopter passed over the inaugural throng, millions of people on the ground started cheering spontaneously. The official pomp of the transfer of power was overwhelmed by the euphoria of those who hated Bush and his policies.

But was there a transfer of power? The personalities change, but the institutions of militarism, war and empire remain intact.

Since Obama took over as president, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has nearly doubled, and that’s before the new deployment of 30,000 more soldiers.

Today, less than a year since Bush departed, there are actually more combined U.S. military forces occupying Iraq and Afghanistan than at any time during Bush’s tenure. Between official military forces, private mercenaries and other contractors, by the middle of 2010 there will be nearly a half-million U.S. personnel in the two countries.

At a time of deep economic crisis, with tens-of-millions out of work and losing their homes, the cost of the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq is already running at over $225 billion per year or $1.2 billion every two days. Escalating the war will escalate that cost.

The war is not about “the security of the people of the United States being at stake.” If it was, there could be no talk about exit strategies and announced plans for withdrawal.

Starting today, there will be a growing escalation of anti-war protests in the United States. Tonight and tomorrow there are demonstrations across the country.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, tens-of-thousands will march in Washington, D.C., with coinciding mass actions in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Real change comes from below. It comes from the millions who are suffering from unemployment, foreclosure, evictions and poverty. It comes from the young people who are being driven from college because of soaring tuition. The children of working-class families are the ones who do the bleeding and the killing, and they are told they do it for “national security.”

This is not our war. This is a war for empire, one that has gone very badly for the occupying force. How many more will die for the U.S. to avoid the appearance of defeat?

The ANSWER Coalition, in partnership with scores of organizations and echoing the sentiment of millions of people who want the wars to end, will be in the streets today, tomorrow and in the months to come. That is now clearly the only prescription to end the violence and occupation of the American Empire.

Representatives of 34 antiwar organizations, including the ANSWER Coalition, delivered an open letter to President Obama strongly opposing his anticipated decision to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The letter pledges to “to build the kind of massive movement —which today represents the sentiments of a majority of the American people—that will play a key role in ending U.S. war in Afghanistan.”

Open Letter to President Obama

The U.S./NATO military intervention in Afghanistan is not a so-called war of necessity. It is a colonial-type war. The people of Afghanistan will resist until the foreign occupation ends. The U.S. war effort is doomed. Tens-of-thousands more troops will be sent into the country because the Pentagon cannot figure out what else to do. The continued war and its escalation threaten the lives of untold thousands of Afghan people and U.S. soldiers.

The ANSWER Coalition is demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan as well as Iraq.

Momentum is building for major national events in March 2010, including the March 20 National March on Washington with joint actions in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Please see below for details.

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a mass National March & Rally in D.C. We will march together to say “No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine!” We will march together to say “No War Against Iran!” We will march together to say “No War for Empire Anywhere!” Instead of war, we will demand funds so that every person can have a job, free and universal healthcare, decent schools, and affordable housing.

A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march. There will be coinciding mass marches on March 20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Cindy Sheehan and a coalition of groups has announced a new initiative set to begin in March 2010 called Peace of the Action, an integral part of which will be a camp that will be set up beginning March 13. This camp will be a staging area for people coming to DC to take part in anti-war activities.

March 20 is the seventh anniversary of the criminal war of aggression launched by Bush and Cheney against Iraq. One million or more Iraqis have died. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have lost their lives or been maimed, and continue to suffer a whole host of enduring problems from this terrible war.

This is the time for united action. The slogans on banners may differ, but all those who carry them should be marching shoulder to shoulder.

The initiators and endorsers of the March 20 National March on Washington (preceded by the March 19 Day of Action and Outreach in D.C.) include: the ANSWER Coalition; Muslim American Society Freedom; National Council of Arab Americans; Cynthia McKinney; Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective; Ramsey Clark; Cindy Sheehan; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK; Debra Sweet, Director, World Can’t Wait; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild; Ron Kovic, author of “Born on the 4th of July”; Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director, Latino Movement USA; Col. Ann Wright (ret.); March Forward!; Partnership for Civil Justice; Palestinian American Women Association; MANA - Muslim Alliance in North America; Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Alliance for Global Justice; Claudia de la Cruz, Pastor, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC; Phil Portluck, Social Justice Ministry, Covenant Baptist Church, D.C.; Blase & Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas; Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras; Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico; Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos; Comites de Base FMLN, Los Angeles; Free Palestine Alliance; GABRIELA Network; Justice for Filipino American Veterans; KmB Pro-People Youth; Students Fight Back; Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter; LEF Foundation; National Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Community Futures Collective; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival; Companeros del Barrio; Barrio Unido for Full and Unconditional Amnesty; Michael Berg; Action Center for Justice - Charlotte, NC; Bay Area United Against War; Casa las Américas; Community Organizing Center, Columbus, Ohio; CT-SAW (Connecticut Students Against the War) ; Delaware Valley Veterans for America; Hawai’i Solidarity Committee; Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination; Texans for Peace; and many more., January 4, 2010