Escalating the war in Afghanistan is not the answer

President Obama will make his speech on the war in Afghanistan tonight and all the hints from the administration and the media spin suggest that it will be a call for thousands of additional troops; a move that will spell disaster first of all for the people of Afghanistan but also for the people of the United States.

When Obama ran for the presidency he and Biden raised the hopes hundreds of millions here and billions around the world that peace was possible. In fact there was a big collective global sigh of relief when Obama’s victory was announced. The hope for peace was a big reason why he won the presidency and over a million and a half came to Washington on that frigid January 20th to witness what they believed was a historic turning point for our nation.

The majority wanted human needs over corporate greed and war. That hope is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the American people of all races and nationalities.

Since people have found out about the escalation or “surge” Obama’s popularity according to some polls has dropped below 50%.

The well-financed Republican-led racist and red-baiting campaign to bring Obama down didn’t do it, but the prospect of an escalation of the war did. The tea baggers, anti-abortionists, anti-stimulus package, astro turfers, birthers, all (whose fear of socialism is really deep down a fear of democracy) were not able to lower the president’s popularity below 50%, but the war has.

While ratings are clearly an accumulative process it is significant that the peace issue pushed Obama’s popularity below the 50 yard line. The prospect of a wider war is going to be a thorn in the side of the president and  Congress unless it is reversed.

Those who think that things would have been no different (or just a difference in style) if McCain and Palin had been elected are not paying attention. Have you been following Palin’s statements and the reports on the content of her book? Did you hear McCain’s speeches against the stimulus bill and recently against health care reform?

Now visualize them in the White House with a Republican majority in Congress and two wars and an economic crisis. The words that come to my mind are not “no difference” but “much worse.” The Communist Party USA like all decent-minded people is not for much worse. We are fighting in all ways possible for much better.

But this is not to say that we agree with all of Obama’s policies. Even those that go in the right direction generally do not go far enough. Like most progressive, democratic-minded people, we see real shortcomings in some of the White House policies. However, we know that with a McCain/Palin administration our nation, especially its working people, racial minorities and immigrants  would have to deal with the worse possible circumstances.

In the midst of the health care fight in the Senate the Republicans are now arguing that because of the need to finance the war the nation can’t afford health care reform. Sen. Richard Lugar said just yesterday, “Put aside health care. Let’s talk about the essentials: the war and money.”

Does he mean that 45,000 U.S. lives a year are not essential? They are saying that the effort to end the needless loss of 45,000 lives a year here at home for lack of health care  is not as important as financing the continuing massive loss of blood and money in the endless unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? To me it is not only a wrong priority – it’s insanity!

The Republican Party is now rated in the low 20% of registered voters. Instead of listening to the Republican generals, President Obama should listen to the voice of the people (including growing numbers of military families). The people in their majority want peace. He should listen to the strong opposition in his own party and heed the call to deescalate.

This war policy is splitting the democratic forces and will weaken the fight for health care, Employee Free Choice and the effort to stop global warming. It will be a roadblock to the passing of a much needed second stimulus package and  putting our economy on a healthy green growth cycle.

What is really essential is an organized, active, visible and united movement with labor, minorities, women youth and students, and seniors that can fight for the change the majority voted for in 2008. We have a good opportunity to respond to the escalation tomorrow. Let’s go all out to support the peace demonstrations against the escalation.

Photo: / CC BY 2.0




Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is former executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years. Tyner joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative.