Congresspersons Tell Obama to Reconsider Afghan Surge


Eight Democrats and six Republicans from the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday cautioning the new president against escalating the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. (Text of letter at end of this post)

“More Members of Congress need to tell the president that they have major concerns about sending another 17,000 troops in harms way in Afghanistan,” Paul Kawika Martin, political director of Peace Action, said in a statement.

Peace Action and 18 other anti-war organizations sent a letter last week to every member of the House urging they add their names to Tuesday’s letter. Martin said he knew of more House members who supported the letter but did not add their names for political reasons. 

Text of the letter (the names of the representatives as well as the names of the organizations that urged Congress to sign on are listed after the text of the letter):

Dear Mr. President:

We have noted with some concern your announcement that an additional 17,000 US troops would be sent to Afghanistan. As the goals of our seven-year military involvement remain troublingly unclear, we urge you to reconsider such a military escalation.

If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive. A recent study by the Carnegie Endowment has concluded that “the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency’s momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban.”

The 2001 authorization to use military force in Afghanistan allowed military action “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.” Continuing to fight a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan does not appear to us to be in keeping with these directives and an escalation may actually harm US security.

In a tape released in 2004, Osama bin Laden stated that al Qaedas’ goal was to “bleed.. .America to the point of bankruptcy” in Afghanistan. He continued, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note. . . .” We would do well to pay attention to these threats and to avoid falling into any such trap through escalation of our military presence in Afghanistan.

We are also concerned that any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States.

Mr. President, in reviewing the past history of Afghanistan and the nations that have failed to conquer it — Russia spent nine years in Afghanistan and lost many billions of dollars and more than 15,000 Russian soldiers — we urge you to reconsider the decision to send an additional 17,000 troops and to resist pressure to escalate even further.


Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)
Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.)
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) 
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.)
Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.)
Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.)
Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio)
Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.)
Rep. Ron E. Paul (R-Texas)
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)

National organizations that signed on to a letter to members of the House Representatives asking them to sign the above congressional letter to the President asking him to reconsider troop escalation in Afghanistan:

Michael D. Ostrolenk, President,
American Conservative Defense Alliance

Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, co-founders 
CODEPINK: Women for Peace

Erik Leaver
Foreign Policy In Focus

Joe Volk, Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Tom Hayden

Phyllis Bennis
New Internationalism project, Institute for Policy Studies

Robert Naiman, Senior Policy Analyst
Just Foreign Policy

Yifat Susskind, Communications Director
MADRE: Rights, Resources, and Results for Women Worldwide

(Rev.) James Kofski, Associate
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Dave Robinson, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement

Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Peace Action

John Leinung, Steering Committee
September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Charlie Clements, President and CEO
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ, A coalition of 1,400 national and local organizations)

Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator
U.S. Labor Against the War

Kevin Zeese, Executive Director
Voters for Peace

The Honorable Tom Andrews, Director
Win Without War (A coalition of 40 national organizations)

Susan Shaer, Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions

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