8 Years of War: Speak Out Against the Occupation of Afghanistan
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Eight years ago today, George Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) on Afghanistan. There had been only one dissenting vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee from California (link to her speech). She was surprised to find she was the only vote, because many in the halls before had suggested they were against it, but she was the only one with the courage to go against the fear-mongering of the moment. She knew that rushing into an invasion of Afghanistan would not bring those who died on 9/11 back, nor would it help the situation.
When I heard that one No vote, I was given hope that at least one person agreed with me and understood that military force was the worst way to deal with the situation; more violence was not the response to violence. We didn't need to learn that lesson again, but it seems we are slow learners. Almost a trillion dollars and too many lives later, a majority of the American people now oppose our military presence in Afghanistan.
Still, Admiral Mullen testified in Congress this week about the need for more troops. When do we learn that throwing more troops and money at something that needed to be responded to as a crime is not going to solve an already too-complex-to-understand situation? Our presence has destabilized the region, killed innocent people, expanded the power of the Taliban and created the third most corrupt government in the world. We messed up Iraq and Afghanistan and have no idea what we are doing, either militarily or with regards to nation building. When do we admit we made a mistake and start untangling ourselves instead of digging a deeper mess?
We can see from the members of Congress who are jumping into the media to say "No" to more troops that they know the electorate has no patience for our continued presence in Afghanistan, especially when we need 'nation building' at home.
This week, we at CODEPINK have been busy sharing the facts about what is really happening in Afghanistan: facts such as how Al Qaeda left long ago and how the Taliban is a nationalist organization -- not one known to want to terrorize the US, just the women of their own country, a serious problem indeed. But military presence will not fix it; it only exacerbates it.
I leave next week for Afghanistan with a CODEPINK delegation to bring back the voices of Afghan women, asking them what they want for Afghanistan before Congress sends more of our troops into a quagmire (even after 51 US soldiers gave their lives just last month).
It will continue to take constant pressure on Congress and the White House to get them to pull back from the fog of war. A frightening fog it is. Inside of its haze, good people lose their way.