The recent wave of violence and rising American deaths in Afghanistan are causing many people in Santa Barbara to rethink their attitude toward the Afghan War.
That was the theme of a major demonstration at the beach today.
More than 1,200 crosses were set up on the beach next to Stearns Wharf. And the strong public reaction to the memorial may be an indication that more and more Americans are actually beginning to rethink Afghanistan.
Way to go, folks!
If you want to get together with your neighbors to organize against the war, join or host a Rethink the Afghanistan War Meetup. Hundreds of Meetups are already planned, but it will take all of us working together in our communities to end this costly, brutal conflict.
This week’s Newsweek cover leads with the title, “Rethinking Afghanistan” and features an essay from Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations, warning that the war isn’t worth the cost and the current policy isn’t working. It’s gratifying to see the message that Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan campaign has pushed for a year on the front pages of such a mainstream publication. To Haas and the Newsweek team: we’re glad to have you with us.
Newsweek’s cover is just the latest sign that opposition to this brutal, costly war is now the norm, and American policy-makers had better take notice. Public opposition for to this war has exploded.
According to Newsweek’s latest poll, 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the Afghanistan War, and only 37 percent approve.
60 percent want to “stick to the plan to start withdrawal of forces in July of next year, even if the country is still as unstable as it is today.” Only 37 percent are “open to keeping the current number of forces in Afghanistan–or even adding more–if the country is still unstable in July of next year.”
A whopping 58 percent of those surveyed think the war is a lost cause, compared to 36 percent who think that winning is even a possibility.
And finally, Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection’s poll on July 8-11 found that a whopping 42 percent of people surveyed want to remove troops ASAP, up ten points since February.
But politics aside, our elected officials should end this war for the most basic of reasons: it’s a brutal policy that’s not working and that’s not worth the costs. It’s not worth the life of one more American troop or one more Afghan civilian. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted about an earlier counterinsurgency in someone else’s country: “The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
That’s an incredible investment of blood and treasure, and one that deepens by the minute. We’re spending $1 million per troop, per year in Afghanistan. To date, Congress has approved almost $300 billion in spending on the Afghanistan War. Combined with the costs for the war in Iraq, we’ve spent more than $1 trillion so far on war since 2001, just in direct costs. Right now, Congress is considering charging the U.S. taxpayer another $33 billion to pay for an ongoing troop increase.
And, don’t forget that more than 1,000 U.S. troops have died so far in this war.
[T]he Department of Homeland Security says ‘the number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period.’
After 104 months of war, the last 12 of which saw the U.S. triple the number of troops in Afghanistan, attempted terror attacks against our country are at an all-time high.
No one in their right mind would look at the costs and the “benefits” of this strategy and think, “Yes, I want to sink more human lives and national wealth into that!” U.S. policy in Afghanistan is broken. Inertia carries it forward, not return-on-investment.
We’ve seen this kind of inertia before. Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg explained it in 1971: “It was always a bad year to get out of Vietnam.” President Obama has set at start-date for a withdrawal, but no end date.
If we’re not careful, we’ll find that it’s always a bad year to leave Afghanistan, too.
We’ve fallen off an ugly cliff this Sunday. At 10 a.m., all of those little cost of war counters that have been furiously spinning away on countless websites crossed the $1 trillion mark. No alarm sounded. No bell rang. But, on the day before Memorial Day, the cost of the wars in cold, hard cash follows the human cost of the Afghanistan war into a new order of magnitude.
Just how much is $1 trillion? Let’s put it into real-world terms. For that amount of money, you could do fantastic, life-changing things like:
Provide jobs for 1 million music/arts teachers for a year, and
Provide health care for 1 million children for one year.
These wars aren’t making us safer. They aren’t worth the cost, and we don’t need them. What people do need are jobs and help when they don’t have enough work or any work at all. But instead of leading on the jobs issue, they’re delaying and dissembling about the cost–while spending trillions on war! For example, the Senate just skipped town instead of staying in session long enough to pass an unemployment insurance extension. HuffPost Hill spells out what that means:
On June 1, several programs, including extended unemployment benefits, will expire. By the end of the week, 19,400 people will prematurely stop receiving checks, according to data from the Department of Labor. …By the end of the following week, the number of premature unemployment exhaustions will climb to 323,400. The week after that, 903,000. By the end of the month, 1.2 million.
It will be the third time this year that lawmakers have allowed extended unemployment benefits to lapse, and the second time they’ve decided to leave town for recess fully knowing the lapse would cause panic and confusion among blameless layoff victims — not to mention what Katz calls a “huge” administrative burden on state workforce agencies.
This is a heartbreaking toll on American families. These were people’s sons and daughters, husbands and wives, moms and dads. Our hearts go out to all of their families.
The Afghanistan war is not making us more secure. To the contrary – terrorism has increased worldwide since the start of the war. Massive war spending–very soon to surpass $1 trillion–continues to cost us jobs and undermine economic recovery and prosperity at home. One thousand troops are dead, and our leaders have nothing to show for it but the prospect of another thousand dead.
Today, members of the Rethink Afghanistan community are marking this terrible milestone by posting this video at the White House Facebook page. We want the President and the American people to know that we abhor the awful cost of this war and want our troops to come home.
The L.A. area, the Inland Empire and the Sacramento region all made the Forbes top ten list of cities in free fall. And yet California spends tens of billions on a war in Afghanistan that isn’t making us any safer. The economy and promise of California is collapsing, and yet we send our money to pay corrupt contractors and to fight a war with no definition of success and no exit strategy.
The state once known for being where dreams could come true has turned into an economic disaster. The dreams people struggle to achieve now include such basic things as having a job, not losing their homes and trying to afford an education. But we know that it doesn’t have to be this way. The California Progress Report has put together a white paper that outlines how our money is being spent at war, and what it could pay for were we to end this war and focus on California’s own security and stability.
The white paper highlights some astounding numbers that put the cost of war into human terms. California has spent $37.9 billion on the war so far. For one year, California could have funded: 15.6 million people with health care; 5.7 million scholarships and 7 million Pell Grants for university students; 4.5 million Head Start placements for children; 500,000 new elementary school teachers; and 67.4 million homes with renewable electricity.
The white paper covers other numbers that ever Californian should know: the cost of 1 soldier for 1 year in Afghanistan is $1 million; while the cost of college tuition at a California State University is $9,285. The cost of a single anti-tank missile in Afghanistan is $85,000; while the cost of providing 1 year of college books and supplies is $1,608 (average fees). And the cost of 1 predator drone in Afghanistan is $4.5 million; while 1 full Pell Grant for a college student in California is $5,350.
Meanwhile, one in five Californians lives in poverty. Over three-quarters of a million families here had their homes foreclosed on in 2008 and 2009, a number that is predicted to reach 2 million by 2012. And low-income workers have seen their wages decline since 2006.
California deserves better than this. But we will not end the war and save California’s economy without information being known about the cost of war and action being taken in response. Watch our video, read the white paper and then join our Facebook group to take action.
On February 18, 2010, Pew Research published a study titled “Democrats’ Edge Among Millenials Slipping.” The report warns that among voters born after 1980, Democrats lost more than half of their lead in party identification over Republicans during 2009. In 2008, Millennials favored Democrats over Republicans by a huge 32-percent margin (62 percent to 30 percent). That margin has now shrunk to 14 percent.
[In 2008], 66% of those under age 30 voted for Barack Obama making the disparity between young voters and other age groups larger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972.
…[Y]oung people provided not only their votes but also many enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Some may have helped persuade parents and older relatives to consider Obama’s candidacy. And far more young people than older voters reported attending a campaign event while nearly one-in-ten donated money to a presidential candidate.
One of the major reasons cited by Pew for Millennials’ sharp loss of enthusiasm for Democrats was young voter opposition to President Obama’s policies in Afghanistan.
According to the report:
“Only about a third of Millennials (34%) approved of his handling of the situation in Afghanistan while 50% disapproved. …That represented a sharp reversal from July, when a majority of those younger than 30 (51%) approved of Obama’s performance on Afghanistan.”
Why the sharp reversal? Millennials strongly disapproved of the President’s December 2009 decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. And, Millenials are rapidly souring on militant foreign policy in general, with only 38 percent agreeing with the statement that “peace is best achieved through military strength.”
Democrats can’t afford to hang on to the dead weight of a brutal foreign policy in Afghanistan. When a war has killed thousands of children, almost a thousand American troops and cost us almost a trillion dollars, electoral peril isn’t the only reason the President should rethink his policy. But it is a good reason.
Brave New Foundation just hired Derrick Crowe as a political associate to work on their Rethink Afghanistan campaign.
Derrick needs your help finding footage of your Member of Congress or Senator talking about past war supplemental funding bills so we can hold them accountable in future videos. Send your footage to email@example.com.
Below is a message from Congressman Eric Massa, a strong ally on ending the war in Afghanistan:
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, an occasion to gather with friends and family to celebrate the good things in life. This year however, Christmas Eve is a day of great irony and conflict as our nation prepares to escalate the war in Afghanistan.
This year, Christmas Eve falls on the 3,000th day that U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of the very same nation.
As a retired military officer as well as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I know that we cannot turn a blind eye to the lessons of the past. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a disaster and they proved that you cannot win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people through troop surges, and continued occupation. It is critical to note that while we do not view this as an occupation of Afghanistan, it is clear that the people of Afghanistan view our presence as just that.
If you have a few moments, I ask you to watch this extraordinary video, and then read my blog post on Huffington Post and DailyKos.com. In these blog posts, I explain further how you can help pressure Congress to end this war of occupation.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year – and please keep our service members and their families in your thoughts, and prayers now and always.
-Congressman Eric Massa
P.S. If you agree that we should be taking measures to add real security for our country and our allies, please forward this email to your friends and family.
On Tuesday morning, your voice was heard in the United States House of Representatives.
Over 100,000 people signed the petition from Brave New Foundation, Credo Mobile and True Majority calling on Congress to vote against any bill to fund troop escalation in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Congressman Alan Grayson read the petition aloud from the House floor, asking his colleagues to vote NO.
Rep. Grayson’s action was a step forward in demonstrating to Congress our opposition to the war. But we’re far from achieving the groundswell we need to bring the war to an end. Let’s keep the momentum going.
The first step to ending the war is explaining to our friends and family why we need to bring the troops home now. We’ve created a new tool to allow you to send a video to your friends that matches to a specific concern about the war. Send a video to five of your friends today.
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