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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.

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More troops to Afghanistan more terror to US: Don’t do it Congress

By Deborah Dupre’ at Examiner

The war in Afghanistan is increasing likelihood that American civilians will be killed in a future terrorist attack (R. Greenwall, Rethink Afghanistan, Security, Part 6, 2009, provided below) so Americans are signing Tom Hayden’s petition for Congress to not fund sending more troops there.

Hayden’s Afghanistan: A petition to Take Action Against the War, (text below) calls on Congress to vote “No” to sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Hayden, an American social and political activist and politician, is most famous for his involvement in the animal rights, and the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. He is the former husband of actress Jane Fonda and the father of actor Troy Garity.

“The war in Afghanistan is increasing the likelihood that American civilians will be killed in a future terrorist attack. Part 6 of Rethink Afghanistan, Security, brings you three former high-ranking CIA agents to explain why. There is no “victory” to be won in Afghanistan. It is the most important video about U.S. Security today,” according to Robert Greenwall’s research as documented below.


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Myth v. Fact: Afghanistan

By Malou Innocent at Huffington Post

While “Change” has been Barack Obama’s mantra, as of late he has been channeling his predecessor.

“Afghanistan,” according to Obama, “is a war of necessity… [And] If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.”

President George W. Bush was adept at keeping the American public in an elevated state of panic. That tactic may be useful for advancing controversial policies. But if policymakers continue to downplay the drawbacks of our current course of action, America risks intensifying the region’s powerful jihadist insurgency and entangling itself deeper into a tribal-based society it barely understands.

Americans must be told the truth about the war in Afghanistan. To understand the disadvantages of pursuing present policies, we must unpack the myths that war proponents use to justify staying the course.

Myth #1: Both al Qaeda and the Taliban Are Our Mortal Enemies

Given the magnitude of the atrocities unleashed on September 11th, removing both al Qaeda and the Taliban regime that sheltered the terrorist organization was appropriate. But eight years later, is waging a war against the Taliban a pressing national security interest? Not really.

The Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other guerilla-jihadi movements indigenous to this region have no shadowy global mission. In fact, what we are witnessing is a local and regional ethnic Pasthun population — divided arbitrarily by a porous 1,500-mile border — fighting against what they perceive to be a hostile occupation of their region. Prolonging our mission risks uniting these groups and making U.S. troops the primary target of their wrath.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, even if the Taliban were to reassert themselves amid a scaled down U.S. presence, it is not clear that the Taliban would again host al Qaeda. In The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright, staff writer for New Yorker magazine, found that before 9/11 the Taliban was divided over whether to shelter Osama bin Laden. The terrorist financier wanted to attack Saudi Arabia’s royal family, which, according to Wright, would have defied a pledge Taliban leader Mullah Omar made to Prince Turki al-Faisal, chief of Saudi intelligence (1977-2001), to keep bin Laden under control. The Taliban’s reluctance to host al Qaeda’s leader means it is not a foregone conclusion that the same group would provide shelter to the same organization whose protection led to their overthrow.

As the war in Afghanistan rages on, President Obama should be skeptical of suggestions that the defeat of al Qaeda depends upon a massive troop presence. Globally, the United States has degraded al Qaeda’s ability to pull off another 9/11 by employing operations that look a lot like police work. Most of the greatest successes scored against al Qaeda, such as the snatch-and-grab operations that netted Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi bin al Shibh, have not relied on large numbers of U.S. troops. Intelligence sharing and close cooperation with foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies have done more to round up suspected terrorists than blunt military force.

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Nationwide peace campaign plans

By Deborah Dupre’ at Examiner

Call to Rethink Afghanistan and ‘War on Terror’

A coalition of major U.S. non-government organizations will be campaigning for peace nationwide in October, including teach-ins, demonstrations and new, award-winning film screenings.

The peace project follows a recess during which hope for change under the Obama administration has gradually dwindled due to no change in U.S. foreign policy including the “long war.”

The antiwar silence has been “crashingly deafening” says Cindy Sheehan on her pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard to protest her son’s death and all other innocent people killed over a falsified cause for war. (John Walsh, The Silence of the Antiwar Movement is Deafening: Cindy Sheehan’s Lonely Pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard, Counterpunch, August 26, 2009) Sheehan’s protest coincided with President Obama’s vacation in the resort area.

CodePink founder, Medea Benjamin said, “We’re coming out of a low period. But as progressives feel more comfortable protesting against the Obama administration and challenging Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress, then we’ll be back on track.” James Dao, New York Times, American Antiwar Movement Plans an Autumn Campaign Against Policies on Afghanistan, August 30, 2009)

Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Military Families Speak Out,, Win Without War and U.S. Labor Against the War, a network of nearly 190 union affiliates, are among national organizations planning peaceful awareness raising about US foreign policy.

A demonstration for peace is scheduled in Washington D.C. next month.

United for Peace and other group are planning smaller, local opportunities to create peace through in other places around the country. Teach-ins with Veterans and families, ‘ad hoc memorials featuring the boots of deceased soldiers and Marines” and films are being scheduled according to the NY Times.


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American Antiwar Movement Plans an Autumn Campaign Against Policies on Afghanistan

By James Dao at New York Times

A restive antiwar movement, largely dormant since the election of Barack Obama, is preparing a nationwide campaign this fall to challenge the administration’s policies on Afghanistan.

Anticipating a Pentagon request for more troops there, antiwar leaders have engaged in a flurry of meetings to discuss a month of demonstrations, lobbying, teach-ins and memorials in October to publicize the casualty count, raise concerns about the cost of the war and pressure Congress to demand an exit strategy.

But they face a starkly changed political climate from just a year ago, when President George W. Bush provided a lightning rod for protests. The health care battle is consuming the resources of labor unions and other core Democratic groups. American troops are leaving Iraq, defusing antiwar sentiments in some quarters. The recession has hurt fund-raising for peace groups and forced them to slash budgets. And, perhaps most significant, many liberals continue to support Mr. Obama, or at least are hesitant about openly criticizing him.

“People do not want to take on the administration,” said Jon Soltz, chairman of “Generating the kind of money that would be required to challenge the president’s policies just isn’t going to happen.”

Tom Andrews, national director for an antiwar coalition, Win Without War, said most liberals “want this guy to succeed.” But he said the antiwar movement would try to convince liberals that a prolonged war would undermine Mr. Obama’s domestic agenda. Afghanistan, he said, “could be a devastating albatross around the president’s neck.”

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Three Former Top CIA Agents Say War In Afghanistan Making World More Dangerous (VIDEO)

By Marcus Baram at Huffington Post

In a powerful new documentary, “Security” from the Rethink Afghanistan project, three former high-ranking CIA agents explain why the war in Afghanistan is making the world more dangerous, rather than safer, for Americans.

Robert Baer, former CIA field operative in the Middle East and the author of “See No Evil,” says: “The notion that we are are in Afghanistan to make our country safer is complete bullshit.”

And Graham Fuller, former CIA station chief in Kabul, emphasizes: “Both wars have made the world much more dangerous for Americans and for any American presence overseas.”

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Obama’s ‘War on Terror’ has terrifying human toll

By Katrina Bisheimer at Bangor Daily News

The election of Barack Obama brought hope for change in our war policy, but this was an illusion. Early in his presidency he negotiated the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq over a 19-month period. However, this has now been extended to possibly 10 years; although this is slightly better than the 100 years suggested by John McCain.

Then came the comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in which he stated, “We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future …”

This column looks at the human costs of escalating the “war of terror” better known as the “war on terror” and offer suggestions for ways to get the voices of peace and sanity heard.

The BBC reported that in the first six months of 2009, the conflict in Afghanistan had resulted in 1,013 civilian casualties compared to only 818 in 2008 and only 684 in 2007. There has been a parallel rise in suicide bombing and roadside explosives, which usually result in many civilian deaths. There were no suicide bombings in Afghanistan before this “war of terror” began. The report says that from 2007 through 2009, insurgents were responsible for more deaths than the government-allied forces were, but two-thirds of the deaths caused by government-allied forces were from airstrikes. Recently, U.S. warplanes dropped bombs in a village in the western province of Farah that resulted in about 100 women, children and men turned into corpses and bits of human flesh by iron fragments. The Afghan survivors carted dozens of corpses in trucks from their village to the provincial capital to publicly denounce the carnage, shouting “Death to America!” U.S. forces have actually killed more civilian Afghans during 2009 than the Taliban has. Our military approach has backfired and has become a great recruiting tool for the Taliban.

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Liberals Deserting Obama on Afghanistan

By Jeff Stein at CQ
A new poll says liberal support for President Obama’s war strategy in Afghanistan is “cratering” — down 20 points since he took office in January.
The yawning rift has potentially lethal political consequences for a White House already struggling to shore up liberal Democratic support for its health care overhaul.
Throughout his campaign and into the White House, the president had ample reason to believe liberals would follow him into Afghanistan, which many liberals touted as the “good war” (as opposed to the “bad war” in Iraq).
Only eight months ago this week, when he took the oath of office, Obama could claim bipartisan support for crushing the resurgent Taliban, not to mention Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda just across the border in the Pakistani mountains.
No longer.
According to the results of a Washington Post-ABC poll published Wednesday, the good war has gone too bad to be salvaged now, especially if it requires more troops.
“Among liberals, his rating on handling the war, which he calls one of ‘necessity,’ has fallen swiftly, with strong approval cratering by 20 points,” The Post reported late Wednesday.

“Overall, seven in 10 Democrats say the war has not been worth its costs, and fewer than one in five support an increase in troop levels.

“Nearly two-thirds of the most committed Democrats now feel “strongly” that the war was not worth fighting. Among moderate and conservative Democrats, a slim majority say the United States is losing in Afghanistan.”

“Nearly two-thirds of liberals stand against a troop increase, as do about six in 10 Democrats,” The Post added.

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