Days before that news of Moammar Gadhafi broke, President Obama announced that he’s deploying about 100 armed advisers to central Africa to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, and a study was released detailing the 1,446 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan through December 2010.
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is now as dead as al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
Days before that news broke, President Obama announced that he’s deploying about 100 armed advisers to central Africa to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, and a study was released detailing the 1,446 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan through December 2010.
The war in Afghanistan is 10 years old this October, and the nation’s longest war shows no sign of ending — despite proclamations by the White House that try to appeal to a majority of Americans who favor a withdrawal.
Shouldn’t we withdraw?
True, Obama plans to withdraw 10,000 troops this year and another 23,000 next year, but that will still leave almost 70,000 troops there — about twice as many as when he was inaugurated — as well as about 200,000 contractors and employees. It’s far from over.
This undeclared war was started by President George W. Bush on Oct. 7, 2001, and it took 78 days to rout the Taliban, who’d been sheltering al-Qaida operatives, such as bin Laden, who wanted the U.S. to invade.
In a 2004 video, bin Laden said, “All we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point East to raise a cloth, on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals to race there to cause American to suffer human, economic and political losses ... so we are continuing this policy of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”
According to another study by more than a dozen universities’ economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts and a physician working on “Costs of War,” from the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University, the full price of the Afghanistan and Iraq “adventures” is $4 trillion. Most analyses put Afghanistan’s share of that total at 35 percent –– some $1.4 trillion.
Besides the money, of course, there are the lives and the profound loss to communities as well as families. “Costs of War” notes that more than 6,000 U.S. troops and 14,000 Afghani civilians have died.
And the State University of New York at Stony Brook’s October report, “American Military Deaths in Afghanistan, and the Communities from Which These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines Came,” says “these fighters and their communities are significantly different from U.S. society.” Troop fatalities are disproportionately white and Native American working-class people with no more than a high school education, most from the Midwest and South, and the highest rates from rural counties and small towns. Maybe that’s part of why most Americans support withdrawal.
U.S. Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, recently recounted his appearances in conservative areas, where he said, “We had to end unnecessary foreign wars, stop rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan and start rebuilding our own country.” In each place, the audience erupted into applause.
That’s sensible. Obama’s own original goals of denying al-Qaida a base of influence, reversing the Taliban’s resurgence and bolstering Afghanistan’s security all seem closer to the end, if not 100 percent achieved. Al-Qaida isn’t in Afghanistan. The Taliban are scattered. And Afghan President Hamid Karai’s corrupt government seems beyond reform.
“There is nothing conservative about these wars,” continued Duncan, the conservative Republican. “Fiscal conservatives should be the ones most horrified by the cost in blood and treasure.”
Indeed, the nonpartisan Afghanistan Study Group surveyed conservatives and found that two-thirds of conservatives back a reduction in troop levels in Afghanistan and 71 percent of conservatives — and 67 percent of tea party supporters — worry that the wars’ costs will make addressing the budget and deficit more difficult.
Maybe that’s why Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) were among 27 senators who signed a letter to Obama this summer calling for a “sizable and sustained withdrawal.” In the Republican-controlled U.S. House, a proposal by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) to speed up withdrawal lost by just 11 votes, with 26 Republicans joining almost all of the Democrats there.
Shouldn’t we withdraw and use a fraction of that money on rebuilding America, as Duncan suggests, on schools and jobs, on roads and bridges, on high-speed rail and alternative energy?
Shouldn’t we withdraw and spend less, period?
Shouldn’t we withdraw and save our communities and their young men and women?
Shouldn’t we withdraw and save lives?
Shouldn’t we withdraw?
Contact Bill Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org.