By Matthew Rothschild on October 06, 2011

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Afghan War, a war that keeps dragging on and on.

Even with Osama bin Laden dead, even with Al Qaeda having, by the CIA’s own estimate, only 100 fighters in Afghanistan, the United States keeps nearly 100,000 soldiers there.

And the costs keep mounting.

The United States has lost more than 1,700 soldiers there, and August was the most lethal month ever. Things are not getting better for us in this long war.

Nor are they getting better for the Afghan people. U.S. and coalition forces have killed thousands of Afghan civilians, and for all the carnage, the Taliban still controls two-thirds of the country. The price tag keeps mounting on us, too, even as our economy at home is sputtering and our budget deficit is growing. Just counting the out-of-pocket costs, the Afghan War has run up a $500 billion tab so far. And the Pentagon is burning through $2 billion a week there right now.

These figures don’t account for all the money we need to spend on the 13,000 soldiers who’ve been wounded over there. A clear majority of the American people understands that the costs are way too high, and that the Afghan War is not worth fighting. But the Obama Administration wants to stay—even longer, even beyond 2014, when the United States is obligated to leave and when Obama promised to leave.

General John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told CBS’s 60 Minutes: "Well, the plan is to win. The plan is to be successful. And so, while some folks might hear that we're departing in 2014 as a result of the Lisbon Conference and the process of transition, we're actually going to be here for a long time," Allen said. What is “winning” going to look like? There is no way the United States is going to “win” unless it engages in genocide because the U.S.-puppet government in Kabul is corrupt and extremely unpopular, and the Taliban has a large base of support among the people.

The Afghan War has become Obama’s War. He tripled the number of U.S. troops there (if John McCain had done that, imagine the outcry among Democrats?), and for all his talk of withdrawing troops, the United States is on a pace to have between 60,000 and 70,000 troops in Afghanistan by Election Day—nearly twice as many as when Obama took office.

The underlying reasons those troops are there have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Rather, they have to do with controlling oil pipeline routes to the Arabian Sea, surrounding Iran, and putting military bases on the western edge of China.

But Obama has never leveled with the American people about these reasons because they aren’t sufficient to persuade us to keep paying for this war in our blood and treasure.

And now he’s pulling a lethal switcheroo by preparing to stay beyond 2014.

We can’t let him get away with that.

That’s why I and thousands of other protesters are in Freedom Plaza in Washington right now.

Please join us if you can, or join a protest in your own city or town, or link this issue up with the great Occupy Wall Street protests happening all over the country.

Only pressure from below will bring this war to an end.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Wall St. Protesters Show the Way"

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

 

Section: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter