These Colors Cannot Run... Afghanistan
By Norman Solomon
March 24, 2009 "Commondreams" -- -Is your representative speaking out against escalation of the Afghanistan war?
Last week, some members of Congress sent President Obama a letter that urged him to "reconsider" his order deploying 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
Everyone in the House of Representatives had ample opportunity to sign onto the letter. Beginning in late February, it circulated on Capitol Hill for more than two weeks. The letter was the most organized congressional move so far to challenge escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
But the list of signers was awfully short.
California: Bob Filner, Michael Honda
Hawaii: Neil Abercrombie
Kentucky: Ed Whitfield
Maryland: Roscoe Bartlett
Massachusetts: Jim McGovern
Michigan: John Conyers
North Carolina: Howard Coble, Walter Jones
Ohio: Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich
Tennessee: John Duncan
Texas: Ron Paul
Wisconsin: Steve Kagen
We desperately need a substantive national debate on U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the Obama administration says that the problems of the region cannot be solved by military means, the basic approach is reliance on heightened military means.
One of several journalists in Afghanistan on a tour "organized by the staff of commanding Gen. David D. McKiernan," the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl, wrote a March 23 op-ed in support of an invigorated "counterinsurgency strategy." With journalistic resolve, he explained: "Everyone expects a surge of violence and American casualties this year; no one expects a decisive improvement in the situation for at least several years beyond that."
The commanding general, Diehl added, does not anticipate that the Afghan army "can defend the country on its own" until 2016. In effect, the message is to stay the course for another seven years: "The thousands of American soldiers and civilians pouring into the country deserve that strategic patience; without it, the sacrifices we will soon hear of will be wasted."
And so, with chillingly familiar echoes, goes the perverse logic of escalating the war in Afghanistan. "Strategic patience" -- more and more war -- will be necessary so that those who must die will not have died in vain.
In contrast, the letter from the 14 members of the House (eight Democrats, six Republicans) lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare.
"If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive," the letter says. And it warns that "any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States."
More than 400 members of the House declined to sign the letter. In effect, they failed to join in a historic challenge to a prevailing assumption -- that the U.S. government must use massive violence for many more years to try to work Washington's will on Afghanistan.
An old red-white-and-blue bumper sticker says: "These colors don't run."
A newer one says: "These colors don't run... the world."
Now, it's time for another twist: "These colors won't run... Afghanistan."
But denial and evasion are in the political air.
Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is "Made Love, Got War." He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign.
How many deaths will it take until we shout "No More!"? How many broken hearts, broken lives will it take before all aggression ends? My screams go ignored! Calm pleas are less than useless. Our intervention or nosing into others lives most definitely will beget more hatred for the US as Mr Soloman suggests could happen. Then what happens? Retaliation, that's what.
I would think any fool would know that push comes to shove, then more shoves and pushes. Would you take your country being invaded and its people dying wantonly lying down with a smile? I doubt that very much. Is our planet to always be at war? I sincerely wish not. Others aren't, you know. We surely are still asleep.