Obama’s Withdrawal Strategy Leaves Twice As Many Troops In Afghanistan
When Obama began his Presidency there were close to 38,000 troops in Afghanistan. If he keeps the promises that he will make in his speech tonight, eighteen months months from now, after withdrawing, or reclassifying, 30,000 troops, there will still be 68,000 troops left in Afghanistan.
December, 2009, in a speech delivered at the U.S. military academy at West Point, President Obama explained what he called his “strategy to bring this war to a successful conclusion.” Then, almost within the same breath, he announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops for the purpose of turning back Taliban advances. I’m not sure where he was going to turn them back to, it’s there country that the American forces are occupying.
“As commander in chief I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative while building the Afghan capacity that will allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan,” promised President Obama.
Everyone nodded. Yeah, exit strategy, send more troops… what?
There are, currently, 98,000 troops in Afghanistan. He started with 38,000 troops, announced an increase of 30,000 more troops, and ended up with 98,000 troops. Every time Obama has an exit strategy for Afghanistan more American soldiers seem to end up in the country. It almost seems as though the number of troops on the ground were purposely inflated in order to present the appearance of a reduction in troops with this maneuver, but actually result in a net increase.
Changing the classification of military personnel from ‘Combat Troop’ to ‘Training Officer’, or ‘Security/Police Officer’ does not equate to the removal of troops either. This tactic seems to only serve the purpose of presenting confusing, and therefore misleading, information to the public. No other purpose for the reclassification of troops engaged in the same operations as they were prior to reclassification seems to exist. Why not at least add some honesty to the re-naming, or re-classifying process and go with something like ‘Foreigner Extermination Engineers,’ or ‘Front-line Corporate Resource Acquisition Specialists?’ Or, keep it simple and just go with mercenaries.
Considering the recent increase in American aggression in Pakistan, and Yemen, perhaps the military machine is considering these two countries, or even Iran, as their ‘way out’ of Afghanistan, and Iraq, while still maintaining America’s state of perpetual war against corporate desired, politically manufactured, and media propagandized boogey-men. Never mind. That’s a silly thought. Although it looks as though they’re working up some excuses to expand their ‘War on Terror’ into those countries anyway, we all know that the bases they’ve built in Iraq and Afghanistan are permanent; they’re not really looking for a way out. America keeps announcing victories, and ‘mission’s accomplished,’ and ‘successful surges,’ yet more and more Americans are being sent to more and more countries to kill and be killed. Let’s not forget the 45,000 Americans that are still fighting, killing, and dying in Iraq; a war that has supposedly already been won, twice.
Canadian Prime Minister Harper has also announced that he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2011. In September, 2008, he promised this troop reduction saying, “a decade at war is enough.” He said, at the time, that he recognized that neither the Canadian public, nor the troops themselves, had any desire, whatsoever, to stay. He left himself a little wiggle-room though; he qualified his announcement by including the news that ‘a small group of advisers might remain.’
On Dec 09, 2010, only six months ago, Harper changed tact and announced that once combat operations in 2011 end, Canadian Forces will be transferred from ISAF to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan to continue training the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. So they’re not really coming home either. Change the name, change the mission title, change the label ‘combat troop’ to something else… it still ends up being Canadian, American, or British military in Afghanistan. Call them an army of well armed ‘freedom and liberty consultants’ if your self-delusion so demands, they’re all still soldiers occupying someone else’s country, and killing someone else’s citizens.
The growing antiwar movement in England mirrors the anger of the 56% of Americans that disagree with the Afghanistan invasion and occupation. The groundswell of discontent over extorted bank bail-outs, imposed austerity measures to pay for the losses created by the banks for which they were bailed out, and subsequently profited so well from, and the endless war-mongering abroad, is approaching a critical mass in concert not only with Americans fed up with their own government, and the corporations and financial institutions it serves, but the uprisings throughout North Africa, Europe (particularly Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy), and the Middle East.
All of these popular uprisings have found common cause in their fight against global predatory capitalism, empire, colonialism (neo or otherwise), destruction of our environment, and the generally corrupt nature of our unsustainable political and economic models. Their desire for those principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and for the emancipation of all peoples on our planet, have united these various groups, both domestic and international, to a shared mission.
A growing coalition of American activists and prominent community figures have joined forces to oppose America’s foreign wars and demand that troops be returned to America. Scholar and activist Cornel West; Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC ) President Baldemar Velasquez; Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges; single-payer health-care advocates David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler; noted environmentalists Derrick Jensen and Harvey Wasserman; and antiwar leader Ret. Col. Ann Wright, along with a growing list of organizations and media outlets including ANSWER, Backbone Campaign, FireDogLake, The Green Party USA, News Junkie Post, Progressive Democrats of America, Single Payer Action, Veterans for Peace, War is a Crime, Food Not Bombs, Ted Rall – author of The Anti-American Manifesto, Code Pink, World Can’t Wait, United National Antiwar Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, and many more.
According to their site:
“October 2011 intends to bring together Americans concerned with economic injustice, militarism, and environmental destruction to join in ending concentrated corporate power and taking direct control of a real participatory democracy.”
All those participating have signed a pledge;
“…that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine until our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning.”
The October2011 movement goes on to clarify their position by stating;
“We know our overlords are adept at ignoring marches, demonstrations, and what few expressions of free speech we have left. This time, we won’t let them. We intend to shut down business as usual and force them to listen.”
Communication between people around the planet, the access to information, and the ability to organize, has resulted in a movement that, while being identified under several regional names (the Jasmine revolution, the Arab Spring, the GIPSI revolution, the European Summer, The Irish Uprising, and England’s mass demonstrations, to name only some), is global. The need to address the self-destructive nature of our current system and establish the foundation for a just and sustainable future is universal. Groups and individuals around the globe have already expressed their support for, and solidarity with, all those participating in the October2011 movement.
In response to the overwhelming support from around the world, October2011 released the following statement:
THE U.S. OCTOBER 2011 MOVEMENT STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR GLOBAL ALLIES
Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October2011 Movement. This fusion of peace, social justice, environmental, student, and immigrant rights organizations is in solidarity with all who seek a peaceful, just, and sustainable future and stands ready to engage in its own campaign of nonviolent resistance beginning in Washington, D.C., this October. We recognize that your revolution is our revolution, that American Empire prevents you from achieving self-determination and economic justice, and that only together can we achieve our shared goals.
October marks the beginning of the11th year of the U.S. invasion and destruction of Afghanistan. It marks the beginning of yet another federal budget that delivers unlimited funds for war and corporate interests while putting in place an austerity budget for services that meet human and environmental needs. But this October will mark the beginning of something else in the United States—a moment when we will unite to demand an end to a system that puts profits and warfare over the welfare of people and the environment.
The response to our call, which is but one week old, has been tremendous. Already more than one thousand have pledged to join this resistance action in Freedom Square and that number is growing rapidly. Leading figures from a wide range of communities have stepped up to join the call. Among them are noted African-American scholar and activist Cornel West; Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC ) President Baldemar Velasquez; Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges; single-payer health-care advocates David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler; noted environmentalists Derrick Jensen and Harvey Wasserman; and antiwar leader Ret. Col. Ann Wright, along with numerous other prominent peace activists. You can see more of the people who signed up by visiting www.October2011.org.
History is knocking on the door of the United States and its people are ready. As the crises in our communities and around the world grow, so must our response. We can no longer abide the outrageous and growing wealth inequality in this country. We cannot accept a government “of, by, and for” the corporations. We cannot remain silent while our leaders continue to exploit and slaughter people in distant lands or while millions of us have no access to health care. A majority of Americans want the wars to end. We want investment in jobs, education, and environmental protection. We want banks to invest for our future, not for their executives’ pocketbooks. We want laws that are just, lawmakers who obey them, and the power to hold them accountable when they do not. For that, we need a judiciary biased toward justice, not the partisan powers and big business interests they serve.
In the United States the people have little voice in the process of governance, as elected officials and institutions have been corrupted by concentrated corporate interests that have bought and paid for them. The people have no control over their own lives and the direction of their own communities. The brave who speak out for justice are often ignored, harassed, or imprisoned. Unified resistance has become the essential avenue for change.
Our time has come. We pledge to stand together in nonviolent resistance to corporate greed, government corruption, violence and injustice. We must follow our brave brothers and sisters of the Arab Spring and developing European Summer into an Autumn of an American awakening. With our bodies united in resistance and our voices coalesced into one sustained cry for justice, we can and must Stop the Machine and Create a New World!
It is very difficult for us to get honest information about democracy movements around the world from the U.S. corporate-controlled media. Please visit our website at www.October2011.org and keep us informed of your actions. We have called our action “Stop the Machine! Create a New World!” Together we will end concentrated corporatism and create a peaceful, just, and sustainable future that respects all of humanity and the planet.
The promise that President Obama will make in his speech tonight is worse than ‘too little, too late.’ The ‘shell-game’ that will turn 38,000 troops into 68,000 as the result of a three year exit strategy is completely unacceptable. The verbal gymnastics required to present this as a success are something to look forward to. Obama will have to use his best Jedi mind trick to pull this off tonight, but I’m sure he will have the help of the media and their ‘expert analysts.’ After convincing Americans that sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan was the best way to end America’s occupation, explaining now how 68,000 troops will still be there, after he supposedly removes 30,000 troops over the next couple of years, when he started out with 38,000 troops already there, should be a piece of cake.