What If The People Of Afghanistan Could Choose?

Cliff Kindy & Neil Wollman

After an intense review, President Obama recently ordered about thirty thousand more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The question is, should this decision have been made by the U.S. government? The goals for the United States are to prevent an Al Qaida threat in the homeland and to stabilize the Afghan situation, allowing for some level of central government control and a face-saving withdrawal. But who else could or should have weighed in on this decision, and what are their motivations?

The Afghan government realizes that any downsizing of the U.S. presence could threaten its hold on political power. President Karzai recently stated that he expects the U.S. military presence to continue until 2024. The U.S. public is split, mainly along party lines, between those who want an early withdrawal of troops to prevent a quagmire, and those who support the U.S. military presence and fear that withdrawal would squander the investment already made.

The missing voice among these acknowledged players is that of the Afghan public. No country can impose on another a decision that country cannot abide. History is filled with attempts by strong powers to force actions upon weaker ones. This has worked sometimes in the short run, but usually crashes in the long term. The power of democracy is its dependence upon the will of the people who are impacted by a decision.

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How Many Small Donors Does it Take to End a War?

Marc Pilisuk

fallujah4With record amounts of campaign funds from small donations, Howard Dean has taken the Democrats off the list for contributions from lobbyists and PACs. He asks instead for continuing support from small donors. Republicans, also distancing themselves from lobbyists with shady pasts, have been reaching for more small contributions as well. Like the military contractors and other special interests, however, we want something in return for our contributions: for many of us this is an end to the war and occupation that the U.S. started in Iraq. But we are unlikely to get this unless we use our newly-found financial power and call upon our leaders to act.

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