Difficult days ahead for Afghanistan and U.S.


On May 1, in a televised address from Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said, "There will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over."

That's an understatement.

In fact the current U.S. policy in the region demands of the Afghan people a massive sacrifice as well.

Without a new strategy - not the slow downsizing of the Afghanistan war over the next decade - there will indeed be difficult days ahead.

Instead of helping, the continued U.S. presence jeopardizes the Afghan people's future, as it does our future here at home.

The future of the Afghan economy and its people's aspirations is stalled by the unwillingness to leave sooner rather than later. Corruption and graft are bred by U.S. funding and the occupation.

Furthermore, the U.S. has no clear strategy for a negotiated peace or a framework for sustainable economic development in Afghanistan.

Today, two-thirds of the U.S. people across the political spectrum want the war to end now. In poll after poll they readily connect the government's ability to deal with the economic crisis in our communities to ending the war.

The longer the troops stay in Afghanistan, the more desperately needed resources will be withheld from our cities, schools, libraries and hospitals.

The projected 2013 price tag for the war will be $88 billion dollars, while unemployment hovers at 10 percent and triple that among young people of color. The current Pentagon budget is $800 billion a year without a real cut in sight.

As long as the troops stay in Afghanistan, and the U.S. pursues a militarized foreign policy, the possibility of U.S. sustainable economic development and a stronger democracy is as impossible here as it is in Afghanistan.

The White House fact sheet issued along with Obama's speech emphasized that the Strategic Partnership Agreement itself "does not commit the United States to any specific troop levels or levels of funding in the future, as those are decisions will be made in consultation with the U.S. Congress." And funding from Congress will be requested on an annual basis to support the training, equipping, advising and sustaining of Afghan National Security Forces."

The agreement just signed leaves us with the yearly congressional fight over funding the war. A full-throated, massive pressure campaign is needed.

That's where we have to draw the line and make the fight in the next few weeks to cut the Pentagon budget and for a negotiated peace, not a prolonged downsized war.

The congressional elections will be the battleground for exerting the popular opinion of ending a war that is not only unwinnable but in fact is a roadblock to both the US and Afghan people from achieving a decent life, schools, healthcare and jobs.

President Obama said in his speech to the nation, "Others will ask why we don't leave immediately. The answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize."

But the underlying problems in Afghanistan are little served by foreign armies and military "solutions." The reality is that until the U.S. and NATO forces leave Afghanistan both the Afghan and U.S. peoples will have more than a few difficult days ahead. We'll have difficult years ahead.

This article is reprinted from CounterPunch with permission from the author. Judith LeBlanc is the field director for Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S.  She can be reached at: jleblanc@peace-action.org.

Photo: President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sign a strategic partnership agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul, May 2. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

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  • thank you for laying this out!
    not only is every dollar spent on the afghan war a dollar taken away from necessary programs here at home (and thanks a lot gop for giving your billion dollar pals those huge tax breaks, that really sticks it to the rest of us!) not only is the war an economic disaster but it has not advanced one tiny bit what the people of afghanistan need to live and survive, let alone develop and grow.
    it is doubly tragic when one remembers that 30 years ago (!) there was an attempt at economic and social reform in afghanistan lead by marxit left leadership. in particular women made great strides in education and participation in the political arena. but all that was destroyed by u.s. cold war foreign policy, like so many other budding attempts were demolished in the latter half of the 20th century.
    it's enough to make a person weep! but we need to keep working for a major change in u.s. foreign policy, especially for non-military help in conflict resolution.

    Posted by Barbara R, 05/04/2012 11:42am (3 years ago)

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