Reining in Empire-Building


In 2009 President Obama announced that he would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, but that he would begin drawing them down in July 2011.

In a speech given in December 2009, President Obama told the nation:  “The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers  …  “Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”  

July 2011 is now only a few months away.  However, recent press reports by McClatchy and the New York Times have suggested that the Obama Administration, at the NATO summit this week, is considering “publicly walking away from” President Obama’s promise to begin drawing down U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Now that Osama Bin Laden is no more, we should all take a deep breath and begin to rethink who we are as a nation. We’re deeply in debt and we have a Department of Defense (which should more aptly be renamed Dept. of War) that consumes far too many of our nation’s scarce resources. Please consider sending your own version of a letter such as the one below to President Obama as well as your representatives, asking them to step back and rethink how we invest our scarce resources as we look for ways to get our nation out of debt and once and for all balance our federal budget.


Dear President Obama:

In a speech given in December 2009, you told the nation:  “The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers  …  Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”  

Bin Laden’s death should be a time of reappraisal, not celebration.  A decade of war and occupation has helped push U.S. society to a breaking point: in debt, divided, with an unprecedented assault on social services and public employees coast to coast. Civil liberties have been trampled.

It’s time to rein in empire. It’s time to end the wars and ask “why do we have troops stationed in 177 countries?” It’s time to finally hear Martin Luther King’s lament about “a society gone mad on war.” It’s time to rebuild our country by redirecting money from war to education and health and environmental cleanup. But most importantly, it’s time to reject the military’s call for four more years of combat in Afghanistan.

I’m writing this letter to you today to help you understand that there are large numbers of us who are not inclined to gather outside the White House for triumphant chants and flag-waving. We can no longer afford the fuel to get there and have insufficient funds for a room once there. We’re too worried about the future. We’re active citizens who vote and many of us helped put you in office. We demand a change of direction that puts justice and democracy ahead of empire. Please bring out troops home and rein in our nation’s Dept. of War (Defense) that consumes far too many of our scarce resources.

Respectfully,

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