Friday 13 November 2009

On Getting American & Other Foreign Troops OUT of Afghanistan

I am impressed by a statement the Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition (peace and justice loving people in northern Indiana and south-western Michigan from all sorts of theological persuasions, including some agnostics and political anarchists) has been drafting to circulate among its members and community organizations. What follows below is a second draft, waiting for more comments before it becomes the official "policy" of MPJC.

In America and Australia and other countries with democratic governments, policy change usually comes from a groundswell of citizen opinion, powerful statements from church and community leaders, op-ed pieces in newspapers, and other local organizations to push their political leaders to do the right thing. It seems that it always takes a process like this to withdraw from involvements in the war-quagmires our nations get sucked into. (Click here for some clear-headed current analysis regarding the one in Afghanistan.)

So, how about it, if you think a statement like this is appropriate, then would you be willing to get some people together to draft something similar to publish in your local newspaper, distribute to community organizations, and send to your politicians? At least, create some healthy community discussion?

If you are without conviction - staying silent and trying not to "make waves" - then you are part of the problem instead of being a part of the solution. I don't think there is much middle ground on this issue - at least not from Jesus' point of view as I understand it.

So, if you claim to be a Jesus-follower, a good place to start is to ask yourself the next time you are with your fellow believers: if he were in your midst (and he is, isn't he?) what do you think Jesus would have to say about the increasingly obvious results of America's (and Australia's and .....) involvement in Afghanistan?

Philippians 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus..."

-Clair Hochstetler in Canberra


MPJC position on withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

The United States attacked Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11/2001 attack on the twin towers, after the Taliban refused or was unable to turn over the al Qaida leadership to the UN, and now the U.S. has a moral obligation to repair the damage it caused. MPJC believed in 2001 that the correct policy was to use police forces to bring the leaders of Al Qaida to justice, not start a war of revenge on an entire country. Coalition members still believe that the United States must set an early deadline (a few months) to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Civilians who would be in imminent danger of death should be evacuated as well.

In all likelihood there will be dangers to Afghanis when the United States pulls out. The Taliban is likely to regain control of the country and reinstitute severe social practices. The situation for women which has improved marginally since 2001 would likely deteriorate. MPJC is deeply concerned about the suffering of Afghanis both now and after the withdrawal, but believes that it is the responsibility of Afghan citizens, not the U.S. or the world community, to bring about changes in their government and way of life nonviolently.

The following quote has been taken from the National Priorities Project website page -- The Cost of War in Afghanistan ( The legitimacy of the Afghan government per the October 2009 elections is more open to question than ever before.

"Today the Kabul government is losing support among the Afghan people. The Taliban and other insurgent groups are gaining recruits because there is neither basic security nor jobs. Corruption and an unwillingness to address human rights abuses have undermined support for the government. The behavior of foreign troops has often violated cultural norms and created fear and humiliation. Practices like night raids, use of drones and aerial bombardments tend to increase support for insurgents. As the conflict widens, meager education and health services become even more limited. People in Afghanistan have consistently called for basic services, food, civilian rule of law and healthy institutions that can be trusted. As one of the poorest countries on earth, Afghanistan will continue to need aid and outside investment for years to come."

After eight years of war, the United States has a moral obligation to restore the homes and infrastructure that have been destroyed, but the rebuilding can only begin after the foreign troops have departed and their bases have been dismantled. We acknowledge that the Taliban is unlikely to be receptive to any aid for rebuilding from the U.S., but believe that continued presence of coalition troops is steadily drawing more support for the Taliban, making it more likely that the Afghanis will welcome the Taliban when the inevitable withdrawal occurs. The first step is to get the troops out.

Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition website:

Feedback and comments can be sent to:

Peter Smith
Professor Emeritus of Math and CS, Saint Mary's College:
Facilitator, Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition:
Webmaster, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee:
Author, Editor, and Treasurer, Academy of Process Educators:
Publicity Director, Association of Small Computer Users in Education:

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