The national anti-war group Peace Action has released a new briefing paper titled “Afghanistan and Pakistan: Myths and Facts” that looks at some of the commonly cited arguments in support of the Afghanistan War.
Unfortunately, after seven years of war, we’re still at the stage where a lot of educational work is needed on Afghanistan before there will likely be a successful push to curtail the war and end the U.S. occupation (after all, we’re still in Iraq and there was much more significant opposition to that war), to that end, we are reprinting Peace Action’s factsheet below:
1. MYTH: Expanded US military activity furthers national security and upholds our national values.
FACT: Widening the war will be counterproductive both to our national security objectives and to our national values. As is already evident, it will de-stabilize the region, including Pakistan. Americans will also be increasingly causing the deaths of many women, children, elderly and other innocent civilians and disrupting the efforts of thousands of Afghan villagers to flee their villages in order to escape the spreading violence.
2. MYTH: Winning the war in Afghanistan requires a military victory for US forces.
FACT: Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, National Security Advisor Jones, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen, and even President Obama, himself, each have acknowledged that the internal conflict in Afghanistan cannot finally be won by military means. They have publicly agreed that it will have to be won, if it can, by dramatic improvements in the economy, the political system, government services, and the courts.
3. MYTH: The additional US troops will primarily be training the Pakistani Army and police, and are not being sent for combat operations.
FACT: Thousands of additional troops are being sent to Afghanistan, largely from the 82 Airborne Division, the premier regular combat unit of the Army. Such soldiers are not being sent as “trainers,” to lecture in classrooms. Instead, they will accompany Afghan soldiers on patrols and attempted ambushes to monitor and instruct their Afghan counterparts They will inevitably engage in combat alongside their “students” and suffer casualties — just as GI’s did while on “training missions” in Iraq and Vietnam. More Americans will die and, at the same time, their fighting role will alienate the Afghan people.
4. MYTH: The U.S. military will help defeat the Taliban and prevent them from providing a refuge and base to Al Qaeda.
FACT: US military activity in Afghanistan strengthens the Taliban. It inflames Afghans’ hostility to the U.S. and wins new supporters for the Taliban. Even now, Coalition forces are having difficulty distinguishing Afghan Taliban forces, from tribal militants against the national government and ordinary Afghans. That problem will only worsen as our military involvement expands.
5. MYTH: The U.S. military in Afghanistan is not targeting civilians. Any civilian deaths are purely accidental.
FACT: The killing of Afghan civilians is the inevitable and foreseeable result of American missile attacks, bombing, and night ground patrols. This euphemistically termed “collateral damage” not only take civilian lives, but inevitably turns the population against us.
6. MYTH: The Administration strategy is that US military commitment will be limited in size and duration.
FACT: As US soldiers suffer more casualties, there will be growing political pressure to avoid an “American defeat” by increasing our commitment. Now is the time to reverse direction in Afghanistan, before we become mired in another protracted guerilla war like Vietnam
7. MYTH: Defeating the Afghan Taliban will help stabilize the situation in Pakistan.
FACT: Afghan Taliban are not a significant factor in violent or political activity against the Pakistan Government. Indigenous radicals, including Pakistan Taliban, as well as deep discontent from a much broader spectrum of citizens, pose the threat to stability in Pakistan. As shown in a recent poll, a large majority of Pakistanis were angered by the US activity in the region and our perceived effort to control it. That rebounds against our efforts to help stabilize Pakistan, which is seen as our close ally.
Please pass this along to your friends, send it to your legislators, or put it up on telephone poles and in coffee shops–we need to do keep working to get the word out about the devastating reality of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.