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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Global Security Issues in 2010

Marc Pilisuk

Protest now seems to be divided among many issues and hampered by disillusionment with the insufficient capacity of the Obama presidency to produce change that limits the transnational corporate agenda and by a fatalism about whether the cycle of escalating military responses to provocations by Middle East extremists can ever be stopped.

As I try to understand this, the administration response to the unsuccessful suicide bomber is instructive. Extended wars involving military occupations against dissenting groups in their own country are not popular. Each new one needs a media-assisted depiction of a fearsome and demonized enemy. Given that Vietnam and Iraq are still relatively fresh examples of disastrous military actions and the rather low credibility of governments promoting military escalations, symbols of evil terrorists are needed to lull popular opposition, just as high unemployment is needed to recruit soldiers for escalating the war in Afghanistan.

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PsySR Statement Opposing U.S. Military Escalation in Afghanistan

psysrbanner2In response to President Obama’s early December announcement, PsySR has issued the following statement opposing the proposed U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan. Highlighting key psychological and human rights considerations, we instead call for a heightened focus on development and diplomacy.

In Afghanistan, Escalate Development and Diplomacy, Not War

In a national address on December 1st, 2009, President Barack Obama detailed his strategy to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and to thereby escalate the war.

As an organization committed to the application of psychological knowledge and expertise in promoting peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) received this news with great concern. While acknowledging the President’s careful thought and deliberation, we believe that his decision is ill-advised and counter-productive because it fails to adequately recognize the following key considerations:

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The Moment to Refute the Mindset to War in Afghanistan

Marc Pilisuk

afghanistanThe hopes riding upon the Obama presidency to enact bold changes in health care, education and a green economy may all be lost to a war in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan.

Recent polls show public support for U.S. military action in Afghanistan to be dwindling and congressional opposition to be rising. There is of course continued support among suppliers of helicopters and military equipment, and for some military planners it is a key outpost in a global war against an organized network of terror.

Reasonable sounding military leaders are making the case for adding American and NATO forces until a democratic Afghan government with a well-trained Afghan military can maintain control. They brief the President each day on why the next escalation step is needed after the previous one had failed. In its general outline, this is a rerun of the Vietnam War. The guiding myth then was that losing the war in Vietnam would start the dominos falling in the direction of Soviet style communism through all of southeast Asia. The new myth is that some international terrorist group will be deterred by taking away its safe haven.

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