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LET’S TALK ABOUT: “Trigger Pullers” in Afghanistan

By Robert Pasciullo at Gather

I just read that some U.S. officials are considering sending 14,000 troops to replace support troops who are assigned non-combatant duties according to a Pentagon official who always spoke behind the security curtain of anonymity that “It makes sense to get rid of the clerks and replace them with trigger pullers.” First of all, I find despicable the term “trigger puller” applied to the brave men and women serving in Afghanistan as if they were mindless robots. Secondly, I believe the “war” in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

While I continue to support President Obama, I am dismayed that he is considering ratcheting up the military forces in Afghanistan. Recent polls – Washington Post/ABC News Poll, indicate that the American public is opposed to dispatching additional troops to Afghanistan. Fifty-one per cent of the respondents said the war is no longer worth fighting and the human and economic costs are too great to continue. In the U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold has spoken out against further escalation. In the House, James P. McGovern of Massachusetts authored a bill calling for an exit strategy co-sponsored by 100 House members – Democrats and Republicans alike. Robert Greenwald, initiator of the “Rethink Afghanistan” project, pointed out that Afghan civilians, especially women, are “… ill served” by the occupation and that “there is no victory to be won in Afghanistan.” Vice President Joe Biden has joined the growing chorus, warning the administration of the dangers of escalating the troop force in Afghanistan. George F. Will, the erstwhile conservative pundit, wrote in his column Tuesday, Sept. 2, that the United States should substantially reduce its presence in the country.

The voice of the people against escalation is slowly becoming an echo of the Vietnam Era. Why is it so difficult for our political and military leaders to look back at recent history to realize that Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” notably the British and the Soviet Union. I fear the same results for the United States and our allies. This concern is reinforced by recent comments from the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who admitted that current “conditions are serious and deteriorating.” In addition to Admiral Mullen’s comment about the current status, he, according to an article by Thom Shanker, in the New York Times, was critical of our government’s attempt at “strategic communication” with the Muslim World.  Shanker wrote that it is improbable that our nation can restore its credibility as long as American actions and behavior are discerned as arrogant, insensitive and insulting. As patriotic as one can be, one has to admit our nation has been especially heavy handed and obtuse in our relations with the Muslims – Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are obvious examples.

 

If, after eight years of fighting, in spite of the presence of more than 100,000 Western troops in Afghanistan, the present “conditions are serious and deteriorating,” the American public has a responsibility to demand from the administration the plans for exit from this ugly war. I reject Obama”s comment that this is a “war of necessity,” a term that is an echo of former President George W. Bush’s description of the situation.

 

How can this be a “war of necessity” when the Afghan government is so corrupt, that opium production is the major industry, that the country is battle fatigued after decades of occupation and war, that its infrastructure almost non-existent, and than its people are helpless victims compressed between two odious forces – the Taliban and the government supported war lords?

It is just and reasonable that the United States and its Western allies should expedite an exit strategy.

Let’s us not have another Vietnam! Let’s us raise our voices and let President Obama know that escalation of this war is not necessary in any way and in any form. Please act today by writing, emailing, calling the White House! It’s everyone’s privilege and duty to be heard.