Posted by CODEPINK Staff
On December 1, in front of a large audience of West Point cadets, Obama talked for 35 minutes about why the United States will commit an additional 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, to remain engaged until at least July 2011. His speech included repetitions of “security,” “terrorists” and “9/11.” This is our new strategy? With all due respect, why should we believe you, Mr. President?
“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home, we will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”
—Candidate Barack Obama
Eight years in Afghanistan and $250 billion of U.S. investment have not fostered peace or stability. The United States’ military spending in Afghanistan alone next year will now exceed the entire official military budget of every other country in the world. This spending is misplaced into weaponry, mercenary contractors, and warfare: what Afghanistan needs is not so different from what we need in this country, which is economic development, education, and health care. Investment in defense contractors will not produce this effect.
The United States' attack on Afghanistan met none of the standard international moral and legal criteria for justifiable self-defense and occurred without reasonable consultation with the United Nations Security Council. This is still the case. Engaging allies in the conflict does not make it less reprehensible. As the prominent U.S. legal scholar Marjorie Cohn Nations notes, U.N. members are “permitted to use military force only in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After 9/11, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan."
What kind of a future do we commit to bring into being?
We want a future where national security is based on international law and cooperation, reducing the proliferation of weapons, demonstrating respect for human rights, promoting democracy and sustainable development, and that addresses emerging threats effectively, before reaching crisis levels. Medea Benjamin notes, “Now we have to go to Congress and ask them not to fund this war. We encourage people to make their opposition heard. We need a peace strategy.” For such a proposal, see Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s H. RES. 363, A Smart Security Platform for the 21st Century.
What to do next?
⋅ Talk to your Member of Congress about blocking spending for the war(s), closure of Guantanamo, grounding illegal and immoral Drone Warfare, and cooperating with international law;
⋅ Write an op-ed for your local paper;
⋅ Over forty communities and hundreds of peace organizations have organized visible, public protests. Join them. Organize your own.
⋅ Recommit yourself to your community and to ensuring that those around you are informed and engaged.
We are still the ones we’ve been waiting for. It’s time to take matters into our own hands.