From War Resisters League, Dec. 17:
Whose stories are we telling about the war in Afghanistan?
On the day following the White House report on the war in Afghanistan that names the war as a qualified success and calls for the US to “stay the course,” we must lift up the alternative stories and reports of this near-decade of occupation, including yesterday’s Veterans for Peace action at the White House.
The other “Afghanistan Report”:
The US-led occupation has done nothing to improve the conditions for people in Afghanistan. Lives also continue to be lost in Pakistan largely as a result of unmanned aerial drone attacks in the undeclared U.S. war in the country.
Hundreds of Afghan civilians continue to be killed by coalition forces each year under the occupation: According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the 2009 civilian death toll, close to 2,412 civilian deaths, was the highest of any year since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, and an increase of 24% from 2008. There has been a general increase in violence and civilian deaths because of occupation.
The current Afghan government is implicated in widespread human rights abuses: A Human Rights Watch Press Alert in 2005 stated that up to 60% of law makers in the lower house of Afghanistan’s newly elected parliament are directly or indirectly connected to human rights abuses.
The air-war in Afghanistan has more than tripled since General David Petraeus assumed command over US and NATO troops last summer.
Drones strikes in Pakistan have doubled since 2009, with over 100 this year, and lists of drone targets in Pakistan have been expanded. These strikes have killed close to 500 civilians since the rules identifying targets were loosened in 2008.
Through the end of November 2010, 455 US troops have died in Afghanistan.
The US is spending $120 billion per year on the war, money that is urgently needed at home in our communities and only being used to undermine Afghan democracy and usurp resources that belong to the people of Afghanistan.
From the South Asia Solidarity Initiative: “The Afghan people are capable of creating their own democratic future. Progressive groups and democratic parties in Afghanistan are fighting to reconstruct the peace and safety of their country, and more often than not, are forced underground for fear of their safety… It is from these forces that a larger progressive movement will emerge that could play a role in bringing real democracy to Afghanistan. If the United States continues the occupation, the space for progressive forces becomes increasingly limited.”
Veterans’ Action for Peace:
At the same time that President Obama was announcing the qualified “success” of the war in Afghanistan, hundreds rallied with Veterans For Peace (VFP) at the White House calling on the administration to “Stop These Wars.”
135 people were arrested, including five Board members from VFP, Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, Collen Rowley, and Chris Hedges.
“We have killed over a million innocent people in these wars and made millions more homeless,” said the former Navy hospital corpsman and VFP President Mike Ferner, adding “Millions of Americans are out of work and literally out in the cold. Clearly, our war economy values empire and death over jobs and real security. We are taking a stand for peace. The troops, mercenaries and drones must come home now!”