End Military Activities:
There is no “military solution” in Afghanistan or Pakistan. President Obama’s advisors say the war “cannot be won on the battlefield,” and military think tanks like the Rand Corporation agree that political, local law enforcement and peacekeeping solutions are more effective alternatives for achieving peace and stability than are increases in foreign military forces.
While of doubtful military effectiveness, the bombing in Pakistan has created a political crisis in that country. And it has encouraged Taliban forces on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to extend their military campaign eastward, towards the population and political centers of Pakistan. To “save” Afghanistan, the United States is destabilizing Pakistan.
New anti-American recruits are created every time civilians are killed. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan caused by the US have steadily increased since 2007, practically ensuring the survival of al-Qaeda and a permanent insurgency in the process. At least 18,000 Afghans have been killed since the U.S. invasion and tens of thousands of innocent people have been injured.
Civilian casualties foster resentment among Afghans and Pakistanis and make peace less possible. Some two million Pakistanis have been forced to flee their homes as a result of US drone strikes and other military actions, and these refugees are currently living in extremely unhealthy and unsafe conditions, with insufficient food and clean water—naturally, they do not view this positively. Violence breeds violence.
Withdraw Foreign Forces:
U.S. military escalation and continued fighting will cost many lives. Nearly 1,100 U.S. and “coalition” troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. Over 2/3 of Americans oppose increasing troops in Afghanistan, and a majority of Europeans want their troops to return from this disastrous NATO mission. Instead of increasing the size of the military and expanding the war, we should withdraw our forces.
Peace talks must be initiated, and they should be transparent and led by widely respected male and female Afghans, not manipulated by foreigners. There should be no more deals with warlords. The U.S. should launch a diplomatic effort with all regional players, including Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Central Asian states.
Address People’s Needs:
Most of the humanitarian and development aid sent to Afghanistan has been wasted on ill-conceived projects, pricey consultants, and crony contractors. Congress must change the law that requires USAID to give most contracts to US companies, and the US should fund small-scale cooperative efforts defined by communities, for education, jobs, new skills, and self-sufficiency. The US should stop the militarization of aid by ending “provincial reconstruction teams” that can’t deliver on humanitarian needs and undermine the work of legitimate NGOs. Given the humanitarian disaster with the refugees in Pakistan, a major relief effort must begin immediately.
Afghanistan and Pakistan won’t begin to stabilize until Afghan and Pakistani needs, defined by the people themselves, rise to the top of the international agenda.
This position paper borrows from fact sheets published by United for Peace and Justice.