An Open Letter by Charles Busch
Dear President Obama,
I am grateful that you are our President and support the work you are called to do on behalf of us all. The purpose of this letter is to ask you to change the plans you have announced for increasing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. As a retired United Church of Christ minister and founder of Peace Village, I have religious and moral objections to war and any attempt to solve human conflict by means of violence. But my appeal to you concerning Afghanistan is based solely on practical considerations.
Afghanistan is an Impossible War
Afghanistan is essentially a tribal nation with competing warlords. The geography is hostile to unity, and the national government holds sway only in the immediate region of Kabul. Relationships with bordering countries are troubled and complex. Historically nations venturing their armies into Afghanistan — most recently the Soviet Union Â¾ have experienced wars of attrition, disaster and retreat.
You know this. So do our friends in NATO who refuse to join you in sending combat troops.
However multifaceted the U.S. Afghan campaign, it is predictable that – in three years or five – the casualties we suffer, the deaths we cause and resources we spend will be without appreciable result. What we will have managed is more hatred among Muslims against the United States.
The vision, talents and promise, which are so bright in you today, will dim and dissipate if you own and insist upon this impossible war. Once again, we will be left with what might have been.
The Better Way
The alternative? The peoples of Afghanistan and that region must and will work out their own future. Yes, there will be caves and pockets where terrorists plan attacks, but those dark cells will exist with or without our military presence.
What promotes terrorism, beyond anything else, is the occupying presence of U.S. soldiers in Muslim countries. What our nation can do is look for opportunities to help Afghanistan through humanitarian measures. I supported your campaign for the presidency because of your outspoken stand against the Iraq War. As I listened to your voice, I found additional reasons to support you. The comments you made about Afghanistan, I dismissed in confidence that your intellect, if not conscience, would lead you to see the folly of entrenched combat there.
I do not look forward to standing on the main street of our coastal town in Oregon in protest and demonstration against you and the rain of U.S. bullets and bombs in Afghanistan. It will sadden my heart to have to do so.
Please be bold and break with our nation’s addiction to war and need to dominate. Please save the lives that are about to be lost and stop further diminishment of our nation’s soul. Please have the courage to refuse the rich and powerful who profit from our serial wars. Please be the change you promised to be.
With respect, hope, and accompanying prayers,
P.S. Thank you for closing the secret CIA prisons established by the Bush administration, and for ending the U.S. policy of torture. Please order the Attorney General to investigate the laws that have been broken and prosecute those responsible. We cannot create a peaceful future if we are not honest about our past. Φ
The Reverend Charles Busch, founder and President of Peace Village, is a United Church of Christ minister who lives in Lincoln City.
Photo courtesy of Ken McCormack.