We Can’t Afford Afghanistan

By Peter G. Cohen

While Moody’s is saying that the U.S. could lose its gold-plated AAA credit rating  if the budget deficit is not reduced, President Obama is requesting $33,000,000,000 FY 2010 supplemental to fund the troop buildup in Afghanistan. This is in addition to the war-funding budget for 2011 of $159,300,000,000.

What’s It All For?

What can this huge sum accomplish? Will we end up bribing thousands of opposition fighters not to blow up our troops by putting them on the payroll as we are now doing in Iraq? Will we ever be able to overcome the intense desire of most Afghanis to have us leave? Will we be able to rebuild an area so fractured by war and death into a friendly nation? Who will benefit? Is this all for large corporations to exploit Afghan’s mineral resources, or to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan? And, of major importance in light of how these wars are being sold to the American public, how are we becoming more secure?

It seems unlikely that the Taliban would again host al Qaeda after seeing the role al Qaeda has played in the destruction of their country. Does anyone benefit from this war other than those who make the munitions and want to keep the Pentagon budget unlimited? Tragedy abounds; must we invade every nation that lacks a decent government?

How Do We Bring the Troops Home?

Obama says that we must cut back on spending, yet the “security budget” is untouchable. These huge sums are not to be questioned even though they play a leading role in our budget deficit. Of course we want the best for our troops as long as they are fighting so far away. But how are we to bring them home, relieve them from their traumatic work, stop the amputations and concussions that are overwhelming veterans’ hospitals? Everyone in the Pentagon and the White House who plans these escapades should be forced to visit the PTSD wards and the amputee wards before they plan more adventures.

Would it not make more sense to bring our fighting forces home than to send them 28,882 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for $4.5 billion? Four and a half billion would pay for one hundred thousand teachers or nurses at $45,000 a year. Will that distant war improve our children’s lives, or help to pay off the debt we are placing on them? Who will bring those 28,882 vehicles back to America? Or will we leave them to rust in the Afghan mountains?

The way to stop this endless war, this endless brutalizing of their people and ours, this endless drain of borrowed money and missed opportunities, is to stop funding the war. We have tried everything else. We have pleaded and marched and signed and pledged and the war rolls right on. Our elected representatives fought for well over a year without being able to give us Medicare for all. But, unless we act, they will pass this gross, wasteful, military budget in weeks. We must turn off the spigot. We must say, “No more!” We must insist that life and the future, our people, our jobs, and our nation are more important than the conquest of Afghanistan.

Don’t Be Fooled Again

Do not be misled by the endless mantra of supporting the troops. We tried that and they still die. The way to support the troops is to bring them home from this sad, broken land. Don’t worry, the Pentagon will not abandon our brave troops. They will be brought home, even if they have to cancel some high-tech, anti-missile system that nobody needs. And don’t worry about the Afghan people. They now have their own militias and can defend themselves — if they want to. And don’t worry about the NATO forces dying in these deadly mountain battles. If Afghanistan is important to those nations, they are quite capable of carrying on the war.

Worry about the United States losing its credit rating and inflating its currency to pay off the debt of war. Worry about the thousands of veterans with battered brains. Worry about the millions on food stamps because there is no place for them in the war machine. And don’t forget that this prolonged war is stealing the money and energy we need to control the disasters of climate change and to preserve the vigor and beauty of the biosphere. There is so much to do right here to realize the American dream. But the best way to do it is to stop funding the endless war.

Contact your Representative now and tell them to vote NO on the $ 33 billion FY 2010 supplemental for the troop buildup in Afghanistan, then ask your friends and family to do the same. If every peace-minded person does this, it could save lives and begin the process of withdrawal.  Φ

Peter G Cohen, artist and activist, is a veteran of W.W.II, and of SANE’s Ban the Bomb campaign. He is the author of www.nukefreeworld.com.

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