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North Carolina Democratic Candidate Nancy Shakir Makes The Case For Opposing The Afghan Occupation And Escalation

Posted by DownWithTyranny on March 31st, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

When many of us contributed to electing Larry Kissell to the house from North Carolina’s 8th CD, we were convinced we were voting for someone who opposed wars of aggression, foreign occupations and the dishonest budgetary procedures, “supplementals,” the Bush used to pursue wars without paying for them. But last June when the House voted on Obama’s war supplemental, Kissell was not among the 32 Democrats who has the guts to stand up and say no. He went along with the crowd– and didn’t stand up and say “no” until it came to helping ordinary American families with protections against predatory banksters and with healthcare reform.

Over the last few days we’ve looked at why North Carolina Democrats have grown disenchanted enough with Kissell to start flocking to the primary campaign of an outspoken Democratic activist, Nancy Shakir, who’s offering a far more family-friendly vision of what America should look like. Last December, writing in the Fayetteville Observer, Nancy explained why she opposes Obama’s troop escalation agenda and continued occupation of Afghanistan. She shows a great deal more insight into it than Kissell:

Like most Americans, I have close relatives who have served, were casualties or retired from the military. I support our troops, their families and my family. My mantra is “Love the warrior; hate the war.” But I am opposed to President Obama’s proposal for troop escalation in Afghanistan for some of the following reasons.

…In Gen. David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrine, the accepted ratio of soldiers to natives is 20 to 25 per thousand. The current ratio is 1 to 430. Afghanistan today is a country of about 33 million. Even if we discount the population to the target group of Pashtuns, we must deal with 15 or so million people. So, when he and Gen. Stanley McChrystal ask for 40,000 more troops, it must be viewed as a first step only.

As the generals did in Vietnam, they will have to ask for another increment and then another, moving toward the supposedly winning number of between 600,000 and 1.3 million. Thus, over 10 years, a figure often cited, pretty soon we’ll be talking real money. The overall cost to our economy has not yet been summed up, but by comparing it to the Iraq war, it will probably amount to upwards of $6 trillion over a 10-year period.

Then there are the casualties: So far we have lost about a thousand in Afghanistan – or about 20 percent as many as in Iraq. Although casualties can be counted, the number of seriously wounded keeps growing because many of the effects of exposure to modern weapons do not show up until later.

About one in four soldiers have reported “acute stress, depression or anxiety.” In Iraq, at least 100,000 of the 1.5 million soldiers who served there suffered severe psychological damage and about 300,000 have reported post-traumatic stress disorder and a similar number have suffered brain injuries. These veterans, sometimes referred to as the “walking wounded,” will be unable to fully contribute to American society, and also will require care for many years to come.

It has been estimated that dealing with a brain-injured soldier over his remaining life will cost about $5 million. Cancer from exposure to depleted uranium is only now coming into full effect. Exposure is then passed on to the offspring of those who served, resulting in birth defects.

About 40 percent of the soldiers who served in the 1991 Gulf war– which lasted only 100 hours– are receiving disability payments. Inevitably, more “boots on the ground” will lead to more beds in hospitals.

What of our own casualties at home: unemployment, foreclosure, growing “food insecurity,” homelessness, despair resulting in suicide and homicide?

The initial Soviet war in Afghanistan began in 1979. The final troop withdrawal ended on Feb. 15, 1989. The Russian army fought a bloody, brutal campaign, using every trick or tool of counterinsurgency, killing a million Afghanis and turning about 5 million into refugees. But after a decade during which they lost 15,000 soldiers and almost bankrupted the Soviet Union, they gave up and left. Gen. McChrystal says it may take him a decade or more to “win.” But what is winning? Even Gen. Petraeus has said, “You cannot kill your way out of an insurgency.”

Removing Afghanistan as a threat requires rebuilding that whole country. Unfortunately, that is a 20-year project at best, and we can’t afford it. So our political leadership needs to insist on a strategy that will get the most security for less money and less presence.

We don’t have the surplus we had when we started the war on terrorism after 9/11– and we desperately need nation-building at home… We need to reduce our footprint in Afghanistan and not dig in deeper. We do not have the Afghan partners, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan. We cannot afford intercontinental warfare to rebuild Afghanistan. It doesn’t take much thought to realize, as most Americans do, that if any rebuilding should go on, it needs to be here at home– rebuilding America’s economy, its infrastructure, its educational system and its healthcare system.

If you’d like to help Nancy replace the faithless Kissell, please click over to the Blue America Sending A Message page and contribute what you can afford. Her grassroots campaign can really use some help.

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