$171 Billion for the Afghanistan War: New Report Looks at the Numbers

Afghanistan War

$171 billion has been spent thus far on the Afghanistan War, and new funding requests will likely be submitted soon.

In light of this, the National Priorities Project and the American Friends Service Committee have released a new study titled “The Cost of War in Afghanistan” that looks at examines the costs of the ongoing war. It points out that the U.S. has covered the majority of the costs and that the actual cost will likely be much higher than what has been allotted thus far. It cites long-term projections to say that the cost of the occupation may be closer to half a trillion dollars.

Aside from examining the economic cost, the report looks briefly at the human costs of the war:

  • U.S. Casualties: 675 soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, with 2,606 wounded. The number of soldiers killed has increased each year.
  • Afghan Casualties: The Department of Defense does not track Afghan casualties, but a 2002 estimate suggested that over 20,000 civilians died. Civilian deaths continue to increase and were up 40% in 2008 over 2007 levels.
  • Refugees and Internally Displaced Peoples: Some 3.7 million Afghan refugees have left their homes in the past two decades due to conflict in the country.

Costs of the Afghanistan War for Michigan

The study also provides an analysis of how much each state has paid for the Afghanistan War thus far and looks at how the money could have been used by the state.

For Michigan, the war has cost $4,562,444,255. This amount could have paid for:

  • 689,712 Head Start places for children that could have been provided for one year
  • 1,715,450 people who could have been provided with health care for one year
  • 6,412,287 homes that could have been provided with renewable electricity for one year

Additionally, the report says that 16 soldiers from Michigan have died in the Afghanistan War.

Larger Policy Context Presented

Beyond the costs of the war, the report provides a brief overview of the policy context. It looks at the past thirty years of conflict in Afghanistan and says that conditions have not gotten any better since the U.S. invasion. It provides a portrait of a rapidly declining country in which support for the government is falling and access to services is limited. Similarly, the U.S. occupation–with its daily raids and bombings–is increasing support among some sectors of the population for insurgents.

The report says that “Ultimately what is needed is not more troops, but well directed aid

along with diplomacy.” It cites the policy prescriptions of the American Friends Service Committee as a way of bring peace to the region. That organization asserts that:

  • Military means cannot solve the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan
  • The US must cease air strikes
  • The needs, wishes, and well-being of the Afghan people must be at the center of rebuilding Afghanistan
  • Negotiations must include all groups involved in the conflict, including the Afghan government, the Taliban, other groups within Afghanistan, and all of Afghanistan’s neighbors

Headlines: Afghanistan Vet Says War Is “Big Mistake”; CIA Never Studied Whether Torture Was Effective or Necessary

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

US Declares Public Health Emergency over Swine Flu Fears

The United States declared a “public health emergency” Sunday after twenty cases of swine flu were confirmed in the country, including eight in New York City. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the emergency declaration sounds more severe than it really is. She said, “It’s like declaring one for a hurricane. It means we can release funds and take other measures. The hurricane may not actually hit.” Civilian and military stockpiles of antiviral drugs are being prepared for rapid distribution in the event that transmission of swine flu virus accelerates. All of the reported cases in the United States have been relatively mild. In Mexico, officials have confirmed just twenty-two cases of swine flu, but the flu is suspected of killing as many 103 people and infecting more than 1,600. The World Health Organization urged increased surveillance for influenza worldwide. There have been no confirmed cases outside of North America, but there are growing fears that the world may be entering a global pandemic.

Influenza Specialist Dr. John McCauley: “That’s how a pandemic will start: a new virus emerging in humans, spreading easily from humans to humans, and, with modern travel, being able to spread around the world really very quickly.”

Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization said the world is prepared for dealing with this situation.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda: “In the past five years, the world has spent a huge amount of effort, countries have worked very hard, to assess the threat of avian influenza. They have worked very hard on pandemic preparedness planning, and we have new tools, such as the international health regulations in place. We also have new defenses in place. We have better surveillance. We have stockpiles of anti-viral drugs that have been prepared at regions, as well as by internationally, in case of a pandemic situation.”

Clinton: US Troops May Stay in Iraqi Cities After July 1

In a surprise visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US may put off plans to withdraw its troops from urban areas by July 1st if renewed violence continues to worsen. Troops will now likely remain in Mosul and Baghdad after the deadline. Over 155 Iraqis have died in recent days in a series of suicide attacks.

Al-Maliki Threatens to Prosecute US Troops Involved in Deadly House Raid

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is threatening to prosecute US troops involved in a pre-dawn house raid on Sunday that killed two Iraqis in the town of Kut. The incident marks the first time Iraq’s government has called for the prosecution of US soldiers. Under the new US-Iraqi security pact, US troops in Iraq are no longer allowed to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval and coordination. The wife of one of the Iraqis killed denounced the US raid.

Wife of Iraqi Man Killed: “His brain was scattered on the ground, and I tried to collect it. The woman killed in the raid was still alive, and I tried to help her, but they killed her. They did not call a doctor to treat her. They killed her.”

Afghanistan Vet Says War Is “Big Mistake”; Warns Against Troop Surge

A former Marine corporal who fought in Afghanistan testified last week on Capitol Hill and urged lawmakers to oppose President Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Rick Reyes said the war has turned into a “big mistake.”

Rick Reyes: “In some respects, this entire occupation has become counterproductive. As a Marine, I was willing to give my life for my country and still am. But invading and occupying Afghanistan, sending more troops to solve what is a political problem, is not the answer. I urge these senators to rethink Afghanistan, while there is still time. I can almost guarantee that sending more troops will mean more civilian and US troop casualties, not for war, but for occupation. Sending more troops will not make the US safer; it will only build more opposition against us. I urge you on behalf of truth and patriotism to consider carefully and rethink Afghanistan. More troops, more occupation is not the answer.”

Former Marine Corporal Rick Reyes also said the US occupation has unjustly targeted innocent Afghan civilians.

Rick Reyes: “Because our mission was to capture suspected Taliban and had no successful way of being able to distinguish them, we had no other choice but to suspect the entire civilian population, innocent or not. One day we stopped at gunpoint, detained and beating and nearly killing an innocent man only to find out he was just traveling down the road to deliver milk to his children. Because of that day, those kids went without a father. There were hundreds of incidents like this one. Almost 100 percent of the time, we would find that suspected terrorists turned out to be innocent civilians. It began to feel we were chasing ghosts.”

At the same hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Retired US Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich said an escalation of troops will worsen the situation in Afghanistan.

Andrew Bacevich: “We may not believe that we are invading and occupying countries, but the people on the other end viewed, view themselves as being invaded and occupied. So, to some degree, to some measurable degree, in places like Afghanistan, increasing the US presence actually increases the dimensions of the problem.”

Sri Lanka Dismisses Tamil Tiger Ceasefire Offer

The Sri Lankan government has dismissed a unilateral ceasefire declared by the Tamil Tigers. Pro-Tamil websites say the Sri Lankan military is continuing to attack an area where at least 50,000 civilians remain trapped. But the Sri Lankan military claims it has stopped using heavy weapons in the region. The UN is estimating as many as 6,500 civilians may have been killed so far this year in Sri Lanka. Another 14,000 have been wounded.

Report: US Considering Deploying National Guard Troops to Mexico Border

The Washington Post reports the Pentagon and Homeland Security Department are developing contingency plans to send National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border under a $350 million initiative that would expand the US military’s role in the drug war. Last week, the governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas sent a joint letter to Congress requesting additional troops for the four Southwestern border states under the National Guard Counterdrug Program.

2002 Military Memo Warned Torture Produces “Unreliable Information”

The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for prisoners referred to the application of extreme duress as “torture” in a July 2002 document and warned that it would produce “unreliable information.” This according to the Washington Post. In an unsigned memo, the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency said, “The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel.”

CIA Never Studied Whether Torture Was Effective or Necessary

The Los Angeles Times reports the CIA never sought a rigorous assessment of whether its use of torture during interrogations was effective or necessary. In 2003, the agency’s inspector general circulated drafts of a report that raised deep concerns about waterboarding and other methods, but the CIA ignored his recommendation to conduct a study by outside experts on whether the interrogation tactics worked.

Majority of Americans Favor Probe of Bush Administration over Torture

A new ABC/Washington Post poll has found 51 percent of Americans support an investigation of whether Bush administration officials broke the law. But on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested President Obama opposes the formation of an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration’s use of torture.

Robert Gibbs: “Well, I think the President had great fears that the debate that you’ve seen happen in this town on each side of this issue, at the extremes, has–that’s taken place, would be what would envelop any commission that looked backward. That’s why his focus, David, the whole time is how we look forward in this country.”

Leftists Win Election in Iceleand

A coalition of leftist parties has won control of Iceland’s government for the first time in the country’s history. The coalition between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement took thirty-four seats in the sixty-three-member parliament. The previous government in Iceland fell after the country’s economy collapsed. The IMF is predicting Iceland’s economy will shrink by about ten percent this year.

Report: Obama Wants Aid to Go to PA Even If Hamas Joins Gov’t

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Obama administration has asked Congress for minor changes in US law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the event Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government. Under the existing law, any US aid would require that the Palestinian government meet three longstanding criteria: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Iranian Arms Ship Bound for Gaza Reportedly Destroyed Off Sudan

The Egyptian newspaper El-Aosboa is reporting an Iranian vessel laden with weapons bound for the Gaza Strip was torpedoed off the coast of Sudan last week, allegedly by Israeli or American forces operating in the area. Anonymous sources in Khartoum told the newspaper that an unidentified warship bombed the Iranian vessel as it prepared to dock in Sudan.

Gore Accuses Corporate Polluters of Fraud Larger than Madoff’s

Former Vice President Al Gore has accused the largest corporate carbon polluters in the country of committing a massive fraud. On Friday, the New York Times revealed an influential energy industry coalition went ahead in 1995 with an aggressive lobbying campaign to refute the idea that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming in direct contradiction to the conclusion of its own scientists. Al Gore testified on Friday on Capitol Hill.

Al Gore: “These large polluters committed a massive fraud far larger than Bernie Madoff’s fraud. They are the Bernie Madoffs of global warming. They ordered the censoring and removal of the scientific review that they themselves conducted. And like Bernie Madoff, they lied to the people who trusted them in order to make money.”

US May Hold Informal Talks with Cuba

The New York Times reports informal meetings are being planned between State Department and Cuban diplomats in the United States in order to determine whether the two governments could open formal talks on a variety of issues. The Obama administration is also reportedly looking for ways to open channels for more cultural and academic exchanges between Cuba and the United States.

Rafael Correa Re-Elected in Ecuador

In other news from Latin America, voters in Ecuador have re-elected President Rafael Correa by a large margin. Preliminary results show Correa won 51 percent of the vote. His closest challenger won 29 percent.

Flight Carrying Journalist on US No-Fly List Diverted

And an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico was barred from flying over the United States last week because one of the plane’s passengers was a prominent reporter whose name appears on the US no-fly list. The plane was forced to divert to the French Caribbean island of Martinique before continuing its journey. The reporter, Hernando Calvo Ospina, is a Colombian-born journalist who writes for the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique. He has frequently written articles denouncing the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the role of the United States in Latin America.

Rethink Afghanistan: The Cost of War

Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films has released part three of its ongoing documentary “Rethink Afghanistan.” This installment focuses on the cost of the war in Afghanistan:

We bring you “Cost of War,” part three of our Rethink Afghanistan documentary, which delves into the financial costs of this broadening military conflict. Do we really want to spend over $1 trillion on a war that could last a decade or more, while millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes? The Obama administration has taken some smart steps to counter this economic crisis with its budget request, but that effort will be wasted by expanding military demands.

Watch the Film:

Previous installments of the film have been posted on MediaMouse.org:

9/11 Families Organizing against the Escalation of the Afghanistan War

9/11 Families Against the Afghanistan War

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a common argument for the attack on Afghanistan was that the United States needed to take action against those who attacked “us.” While the argument was ostensibly about disrupting the al-Qaida terrorist network, it often seemed to be more about revenge–“we’ll bomb them back to the stone age“–than it was about military strategy or national security.

At the time, there was relatively little opposition to the war. A few anti-war groups formed and organized against the war, but for the most part, they had little success in stemming the call for vengeance under the guise of patriotism.

However, running counter to this script was opposition from an unlikely source, families of 9/11 victims who were opposed to bombing Afghanistan. Some formed a group, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. 200 family members directly affected by loss on September 11, 2001 are still organizing with the group and its steering committee is composed of spouses, siblings, and parents of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Over the past seven years of war, we’ve frequently heard the argument that Afghanistan is the “right” war as opposed to the “wrong” war in Afghanistan, that the terrorists who attacked and are planning future attacks are in Afghanistan. Even from liberals, progressives, and Democrats it is a common refrain and many see the Afghanistan War as justified even as public opposition grows.

9/11 Families Challenge Arguments for Afghanistan War

However, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows–albeit not representative of all 9/11 families–offers an interesting challenge to this argument. The group not only opposed the initial attack, but has consistently organized against the Afghanistan War since 2001. All along they have opposed the use of the tragedy–and their grief–to fuel more death and suffering.

Late last year, the group released a report titled “Afghanistan: Ending a Failed Military Strategy” that opposed escalating the war:

“Concerns about the increased violence and lack of stability in Afghanistan have led many – including President-elect Obama – to call for an increased presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. However, the idea that more US troops are the answer to Afghanistan’s woes is misguided. Rather than a military escalation, what is needed is a shift away from militarism, toward diplomacy, aid and reconstruction.”

The report outlines ten reasons to oppose the war–ranging from civilian casualties to broken promises on reconstruction–and elaborates on these arguments. Throughout, it makes several compelling arguments to oppose the war. It takes on common arguments such as claims that the invasion helped women’s rights and shows those arguments to be false.

If Not Escalation, What?

The group outlines eight recommendations for changing U.S. policy:

  1. Set a swift timetable for the withdrawal of US and NATO military forces, to be substituted by UN forces for short-term security.
  2. Immediately cease air strikes on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  3. Support negotiations between all parties involved in the conflict, including Afghan women leaders.
  4. Reform humanitarian aid and reconstruction funding efforts to prioritize Afghan organizations over foreign contractors. Ensure that funded projects address the needs and requests of Afghans and are not simply pet projects of foreign donors.
  5. Invest in long-term aid that increases self-reliance such as sustainable agriculture efforts.
  6. Immediately discontinue the use of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are costly, inefficient, and have militarized the aid process.
  7. Standardize, increase, and publicly document compensation to Afghan families and communities affected by US military actions.
  8. Sign the treaty to ban cluster bombs, pay for cluster bomb and landmine clean up in Afghanistan, and pledge never to use these weapons again.

Fighting the Escalation of the War

In the wake of the Obama administration’s efforts to escalate the war, the group has organized to oppose that plan. It is participating in a month of opposition to the war called by United for Peace and Justice by organizing meetings with legislators. So far, the group has met with staffers for Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Representatives Michael Capuano, Barney Frank, Ed Markey, Niki Tsongas and James McGovern and presented them with copies of their report.

687 Civilians Killed in U.S. Drone Attacks on Pakistan since 2006

U.S. Drones Killing Pakistani Civilians

Over the past year, the human cost of the air war in Afghanistan has received some attention with almost daily bombings and occasional reports of civilian casualties. In fact, air strikes have been a major cause of the increased civilian deaths in the war.

An article published over the weekend by the Pakistani newspaper The News reports that drone attacks conducted by the United States against targets in Pakistan have been responsible for significant civilian casualties:

“Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.”

The figures compiled by Pakistani authorities show that civilians are paying dearly for the U.S. attacks, while also raising questions about the efficacy of the attacks–both in terms of their success in killing “militants” and whether or not they are fueling anti-Americanism.

In recent months, attacks inside Pakistan have taken place with regularity as the U.S. intensifies its war against “militants” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These attacks–conducted with the use of unmanned drones operated by the United States–have been increasing. News reports have indicated that they are displacing thousands of Pakistanis.

Despite criticism, the U.S. has indicated that it will likely increase its usage of drones and expand the list of targets that they are attacking.

Over the weekend, protestors were arrested at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada where the drones are controlled.

Obama Administration Requests $83.4 Billion for Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Obama's Supplemental War Funding Request

Last week, the administration of President Barack Obama requested an additional $83.4 billion for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama has made the request through an emergency funding procedure–known as supplemental requests–that he criticized repeatedly during the presidential campaign. According to his administration, this will be the last time the procedure is used. In future years, the administration will include the cost of the two occupations as part of its annual Pentagon budget.

The $83 billion comes on top of a previously allotted $67 billion. Depending on the numbers used, the Iraq War has cost between $613 billion and $1 trillion dollars. It has been estimated that the war could ultimately cost as much as $3 trillion dollars. Grand Rapids’ share of the cost is at least $343.5 million.

Anti-War Group Reacts

In response to the request, the anti-war group Code Pink issued a statement criticizing Obama for the supplemental request. Calling the funding an “outrageous request” for “ineffectual, destabilizing, immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” the group said the request violated Obama’s campaign pledge to no longer use supplemental funding requests.

Code Pink writes:

“Despite Obama’s campaign promise never to ask for war funding as a supplemental bill as opposed to the regular budget, war officials say this supplemental is “necessary” to pay for wars through mid-year. This explanation for the rushed spending, strategically downplayed amid the start of a holiday weekend, reflects the same rush into war six years ago and recent rush into taxpayer bailouts for mismanaged corporations. It leaves no time for Congress to thoroughly analyze the true need for such funds and it ignores the fact that the United States — and the American people — cannot afford to spend $83 billion dollars on war at a time of sky-high unemployment and record deficits.

It also ignores widespread dissent in American and abroad against continuation of the wars, despite Defense Secretary Gates’ statement that he does not know anybody who believes “a sudden and precipitous withdrawal of the United States from both places” to be a good idea. A USA Today/Gallup Poll earlier this spring found 42 percent of Americans felt the Afghanistan war was “a mistake,” an increase of 30 percent earlier this year and 34 percent in August 2008. A March CBS poll found six in 10 Americans now say the U.S. did the wrong thing in entering Iraq.”

Instead of the wars, Code Pink is calling for a reallocation of war funds to serve people. It calls for using the money to pay for health care, education, green jobs, and infrastructure for all Americans.

Limited Democratic Opposition

Aside from Code Pink and grassroots anti-war activists, there has been little criticism of the request.

California Democrat Lynn Woolsey issued a statement saying:

“As proposed, this funding will do two things – it will prolong our occupation of Iraq through at least the end of 2011 and it will deepen and expand our military presence in Afghanistan indefinitely.

“I cannot support either of these scenarios. Instead of attempting to find military solutions to the problems we face in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama must fundamentally change the mission in both countries to focus on promoting reconciliation, economic development, humanitarian aid, and regional diplomatic efforts.”

However, other Democrats have been largely silent, while Republicans are indicating they support the request.

Ten Things You Can Do to Oppose the War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan War Protest

In recent months, we have posted a fair number of articles objecting to President Barack Obama’s plans to escalate the Afghanistan War. Unfortunately–as is so often the case–we’ve often neglected to say what people can do to stop the escalation.

Thankfully, The Nation has published a list. While we have mixed feelings about some of the suggestions, they are a worthy starting point:

 1 Watch parts one and two of Brave New Films’ documentary Rethink Afghanistan, which explores many fundamental questions.

 2 Read up on the war. Anand Gopal‘s coverage for the Christian Science Monitor has been insightful; see also Ann Jones’s Kabul in Winter and articles like Gilles Dorronsoro’s “Focus and Exit: An Alternative Strategy for the Afghan War”. The Nation‘s own Robert Dreyfuss has more “For Your Reading Pleasure.”

 3 Check out the coalition of bloggers and activists seeking nonmilitary alternatives to escalation at Get Afghanistan Right.

 4 Demand Congressional oversight hearings. It is Congress’s duty to challenge policy-makers and inform the public about everything from the overall mission to the efficiency of military agencies. Sign a petition calling on Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman to hold hearings immediately.

 5 What question would you ask at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan? Take a video of yourself or a friend asking your question and e-mail it to Brave New Foundation via YouTube. For help on recording and uploading your video to YouTube, watch the tutorial video and follow the Quick Capture instructions and then go to Rethink Afghanistan to submit the video.

 6 Contact your senators and representative directly to demand Congressional oversight hearings. If you can’t visit their offices, a phone call or e-mail to voice your opinion can be just as effective.

 7 Write to your local paper’s editorial board and your favorite political blogs to raise concerns about the war. Don’t let the mainstream media remain silent as they did before the Iraq War!

 8 Support anti-escalation Afghan groups working for women’s rights and social justice. You can aid organizations like the Afghan Women’s Mission, MADRE and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) by buying them equipment from their Amazon “wish list” that helps them document and spread the news about their efforts. Stay updated with the Afghan Women’s Mission newswire.

 9 Join the Campus Antiwar Network and hold teach-ins, debates, talks, demonstrations and walkouts on college campuses across the country.

10 Get involved in the peace movement with groups like Win Without War and Peace Action West, which are devoted to finding nonviolent alternatives to military escalation in Afghanistan. Follow Peace Action West on Twitter.

MADRE: War not Helping the Women of Afghanistan

U.S. Afghanistan War and Women

In the debate over the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan and Obama’s escaltion of the war, one of the more cynical arguments is that the United States must continue its war because it cares for the women of Afghanistan.

The argument is frequently made, and perhaps most surprisingly, comes from supporters of the war on both the left and the right.

However, it’s an argument that is easily debunked when one looks at the reality for women in Afghanistan. As we wrote last week, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has opposed this rationale saying that conditions for women have not improved in Afghanistan.

The international women’s group MADRE is the latest to weigh in on this issue. It writes that the U.S. war has had devastating consequences for women:

The Consequences of US Invasion of Afghanistan for Women

  • The Bush Administration justified the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 by pointing to the Taliban’s systematic abuse of women. But subsequent US policies in Afghanistan did not uphold women’s human rights. As a result:
    1. 1 in every 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence
    2. 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan
    3. Every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth
    4. 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate
    5. 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan
    6. 44 years is the average life expectancy rate for women in Afghanistan
  • While school enrollment is high in cities, in the southern provinces the number drops to 20% of children overall–and almost zero for girls.
  • In these provinces, where extremist forces crack down on women’s freedoms, the US has failed to fund humanitarian and reconstruction efforts for years.

Moreover, the organization argues that “Taliban-style extremism” is a product of U.S. intervention in the country. It writes that the United States frequently supported Islamists and extremists in order to counter socialists and nationalists who the U.S. feared might ally with the Soviet Union.

MADRE Opposes U.S. Escalation

MADRE has also released a statement opposing the U.S. escalation arguing in part that military force will not eliminate rampant abuses of women’s rights in the country. To support its assertion, it points to the failure of the war to secure women’s rights.

Beyond its failure to secure women’s rights, MADRE outlines other objections to the escalation. It argues that civilian casualties will likely increase and points to the failure of a 2007 “surge” in which the number of U.S./NATO troops were increased by 45% and violence increased dramatically.

MADRE further cites Afghanistan opposition to the U.S. presence and the unpopularity of the corrupt Karzai government as reason to oppose the war.

Report: Thousands Displaced in Pakistan by U.S. Drone Attacks

U.S. Drone Attacks Displacing Thousands in Pakistan

Over the weekend, The Sunday Times (UK) reported that thousands of people in Pakistan are being displaced due to attacks by unmanned drones operated by the U.S. military.

The attacks are conducted along the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan and are aimed at “extremists” which can include al-Qaida, Taliban, or internal dissidents within Pakistan. It’s a category without clear definition and the attacks have been frequently been responsible for civilian casualties.

Drone Attacks Causing Massive Displacement

The Sunday Times (UK)–following another attack that killed 13 people including women and children–reports that as many as one million people have fled their homes:

“As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base.

Kacha Garhi is one of 11 tented camps across Pakistan’s frontier province once used by Afghan refugees and now inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis made homeless in their own land.

So far 546,000 have registered as internally displaced people (IDPs) according to figures provided by Rabia Ali, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Maqbool Shah Roghani, administrator for IDPs at the Commission for Afghan Refugees.”

The displacement could lead to a humanitarian crisis, as displaced peoples are unable to return to their homes as attacks continue. According to The Sunday Times (UK), conditions will likely worsen as the camps increase in size and the summer heat creeps in. Food and shelter are already running low.

Beyond the humanitarian situation, the attacks are generating anti-american sentiment that could lead to further instability within the country.

Drone Attacks Supported by the Obama Administration

The Obama administration supports the use of drone attacks and has continued their use following his inauguration earlier this year. Since taking office, the attacks have remained a regular occurrence and they are a critical part of his strategy for Afghanistan.

The administration maintains that the area is a haven for militants and that the attacks are necessary. However, it is engaging in a slight review of the program:

“The administration considers the program a success, and the program isn’t expected to be significantly curtailed. But officials familiar with the review say it could change the pace and size of the program, and make some technical refinements in an effort to hit targets faster. The review seeks to determine under what circumstances drones should be used, the officials say.”

What’s noteworthy about the review is aimed primarily at refining the program, not curtailing it. It’s not interested in exploring the human costs of the policy, examining questions pertaining to international law, or anything like that. Instead it is mainly focused at increasing the “effectiveness.”

Beyond that, various officials within the military establishment in the United States have called for the extension of the attacks into new regions.

Break the Silence on Afghanistan

Today, in honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s decision to speak out against the Vietnam War, has been declared a day of action for bloggers to speak out against the escalation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Progressive bloggers across the United States will be taking the opportunity today to speak out against the war and President Barack Obama’s plan to escalate it.

There are already some great posts circulating online:

For more during the day, check out GetAfghanistanRight.com. You can also read past articles on MediaMouse.org about Afghanistan.

Folks are also encouraged to call their representatives to oppose Obama’s plan.