"Military operations in Afghanistan have cost American taxpayers more than $200,000,000,000"
US-Kongress-Abgeordnete verlangen Abzugsplan aus Afghanistan / "The reasons we need to withdraw from Afghanistan are clear", says Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern / Die Gründe für einen Abzug aus Afghanistan liegen auf der Hand"
In den USA gibt es mittlerweile nicht nur eine Mehrheit der Bevölkerung, die den Afghanistan-Krieg ablehnt und die US-Truppen am liebsten wieder nach Hause zurückholen würde. Auch im Kongress gibt es eine Reihe Initiativen, den Krieg zu beenden. So gab es einen Resolutions-Entwurf, der zu Beginn des Jahres von Dennis Kucinich u.a. eingebracht worden war und in dem der Abzug der Truppen
spätestens 30 Tage nach Annahme der Resolution bzw. spätestens zum 31.
Dezember 2010 gefordert wurde. Zwar hat das US-Repräsentantenhaus mit großer Mehrheit diesen Antrag abgelehnt; 356 Abgeordnete stimmten am 10. März gegen eine entsprechende Resolution des Demokraten Dennis Kucinich. Als Achtungserfolg konnten die Kriegsgegner aber verbuchen, dass immerhin 65 Abgeordnete - fast alle von der Demokratischen Partei - das Anliegen unterstützten.
Von gemäßigten Anträgen, die sozusagen aus der Mitte der Demokratischen Partei kommen, ist im Folgenden Artikel die Rede. Autorin ist die Chefredakteurin der linken Wochenzeitung "The Nation". Die in den beiden Resolutionsentwürfen vorgeschlagenen Abzugsperspektiven sind "maßvoll" und können zu Recht als Exit-Strategien bezeichnet werden. Zu wenig für die US-Friedensbewegung, aber wohl nocht zu viel düe die Mehrheit der US-Kongresses.
Wir dokumentieren den Artikel im englischen Original.
Demand an Afghanistan Exit Strategy
by Katrina van den Heuvel *
Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern, Republican
Congressman Walter Jones, and Democratic Senator Russ
Feingold have introduced legislation demanding an exit
strategy and timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The bill reads, "Military operations in Afghanistan
have cost American taxpayers more than $200,000,000,000
in deficit spending since 2001." Over 1000 American
soldiers have been killed and more than 5,600 wounded.
In 2009 alone, 2400 Afghan civilians were killed
according to the UN, and tens of thousands have lost
their lives since the war began.
The Senate and House bills--S. 3197
and HR 5015
, respectively--would require President Obama to provide a plan and a timetable for withdrawal of all US forces
and military contractors, and identify any
contingencies that might require changes to that
timetable. It would demand an exit strategy--long
overdue--from a war that has already cost us too much
in treasure and lives, and isn't in the interest of US
"Basically, what the bill is is a rejection of an
open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan," said
Rep. McGovern, on a conference call with NGOs,
activists, and media organized by Peace Action last
week. "This bill is a signal to the President that we
want him to come up with an exit strategy, and we want
Last year, McGovern introduced a similar amendment to
an Afghanistan war-funding bill that also called for an
exit strategy. It garnered more than 100 cosponsors and
received 138 votes. He hopes the current legislation
will be attached to an upcoming Afghanistan
supplemental--within as soon as two weeks--and that it
will hopefully receive even greater support. The House
bill already has 36 cosponsors, including Republican
Congressmen Jones, John Duncan of Tennessee, and Tim
Johnson of Illinois; also Financial Services Committee
Chairman Barney Frank, and Veterans Affairs Committee
Chairman Bob Filner.
"This is an incredibly important time," said McGovern.
"The more cosponsors we can get in the next couple of
weeks--the more we're going to be able to exert some
pressure when the supplemental comes up, [and] the more
we're going to send a signal to the Administration that
they need to pay attention to those of us who are
saying that we need to rethink Afghanistan. What we
want to make clear is that the concern about our
involvement in Afghanistan is increasing, that it is
deep, that a lot of people and members of Congress from
all the over country--have a concern about this. So,
it's important that all of us work to try to get
members of Congress as cosponsors."
While McGovern notes that Obama has said he will begin
redeploying troops in July of next year--a statement
which immediately received some pushback from Defense
Secretary Gates--that's insufficient.
"It's not only important to know when the first soldier
is to be redeployed or brought home," he said, "it's
important to know when the last soldier is as well."
McGovern--who served as a staffer to Congressman Joe
Moakley for 14 years prior to his election to Congress
in 1997--said that phone calls, emails, and letters are
all important to members.
"I have to tell you as a former staffer and as a member
of Congress-- pressure works, grassroots pressure
works. It really makes a difference here," he said.
"And when many people do it it's a movement. And what
we need to create here in a very short period of time
is a movement to try to change course on Afghanistan."
He suggested that people ask their representatives for
a written response to "force them to think about what
you discuss with them and see whether you can influence
For McGovern, the reasons we need to withdraw from
Afghanistan are clear. And it begins with the mission
"This mission--whatever it is--is not clear," he said.
"And I don't think by any measure it is something that
we should be investing so much in terms of human life
and American taxpayer dollars."
He noted that the war began as a response to those
responsible for 9-11, but those perpetrators are no
longer there. Al Qaeda, too, is establishing itself in
other parts of the world like Yemen, not in Afghanistan
. In fact, focusing so many resources on Afghanistan
hinders our ability to fight Al Qaeda.
"Now we're engaged in this prolonged
nation-building--get rid of the Taliban mission--that
is not clearly defined, and quite frankly, is not
working," he said. "If you go to war, you should have a
clearly defined mission--a beginning, middle,
transition period, and an end. I don't know what that
is here. I can't tell you what success in Afghanistan
means. I don't think the Administration can either."
McGovern says one of the biggest obstacles advocates
for this bill face is the "fear" legislators have that
they will be vulnerable to the charge that they are
"soft" on terrorism. But he argues that this war isn't
making the country safer.
"I believe it's having the opposite effect," he said.
"We're draining our Treasury. We're putting our young
men and women in uniform's lives at risk defending a
corrupt leader. With each civilian casualty, more and
more resentment grows towards the American forces and
the Allied Forces that are there."
The Congressman spoke of his August visit to
Afghanistan and the "widespread outrage" among US
government representatives on the ground who were
"horrified over the way Karzai conducted the election."
"But that outrage did not translate to our policy
makers here in Washington," he said. "Basically we've
given Karzai a pass. Supporting corrupt, incompetent
governments--that's not the way US policy should
proceed. I've seen this movie before--and you have
too--it doesn't have a happy ending."
But McGovern is also quick to point out that he isn't
advocating that the US abandon Afghanistan, "nor should
anybody." He said some of most successful development
in Afghanistan has occurred without a significant
"Maybe we should learn from that," he said. "The cost
of one American soldier for one year in Afghanistan is
equal to the cost of building thirty schools in
Afghanistan. If you want to win the hearts and minds I
think thirty schools is a pretty big deal. Helping the
people of Afghanistan--in a way that makes a real
difference to them--is a fraction of the cost of what
we're doing right now."
And that cost of continuing this war isn't lost on
McGovern or other advocates of this legislation. (In
fact, if this legislation shortens the war in
Afghanistan by a year, that would pay the two-year cost
of the Local Jobs for America Act .
"The hundreds of billions of dollars we spend over
there on war.... All that--mostly borrowed money--means
that we're not investing at home. It means our roads
and our bridges aren't being fixed. It means our
schools aren't being fixed. It means we're not
investing in healthcare, and a whole range of other
things that we need to do to get our economy back on
track," he said. "When we talk about national security,
that definition needs to be enhanced to include jobs,
and the quality of education that we offer our people,
and healthcare, and infrastructure, and roads and
bridges, and the purity of our environment. All those
things are a part of our national security."
McGovern also draws from history to inform his
thinking--something too rare among our representatives.
Referring to Time of Illusion, by The Nation's peace
and disarmament correspondent Jonathan Schell, he said:
"[Schell] talked about this doctrine of credibility
where policymakers in the 1960s all agreed that this
Vietnam War was a loser, that our policy was wrong, but
they were all worried about saving face. So they
continued the war for several years before they ended
it, probably on the same terms they could have ended it
in the 1960s. But it was all about saving face and all
about credibility.... I don't want to here 10 years
from now, having this conversation, and having all of
us say 'We could have done this ten years ago.'"
History also serves as a guide when it comes to the
challenge we face in trying to get Congress and this
Administration to rethink Afghanistan and change
"Lyndon Johnson had a great line after he left the
White House," said McGovern. "He said, 'It's easy to
get into war. It's hard as hell to get out of war.'
Even when you know that war is wrong, or we need to
readjust our policy. This is not an easy thing for this
Administration to do. The only way things are going to
change is through grassroots pressure--people working
their members of Congress, getting him or her on HR
5015 , and making the case that they take a leadership
role in trying to change our policy."
McGovern called the task at hand "politically
delicate", but that "at some point I think doing what's
right has to prevail."
This is the time for all of us to do what's right. A
vote could come up in the next two weeks. Contact your
Representative and Senators--whether Democrat or
Republican--and tell them now is the time for them to
cosponsor this bill.
The Nation, posted 04/26/2010; www.thenation.com
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