United for Peace of Pierce County is one of 83 groups from around the nation that on Tuesday called on members of the Progressive Caucus in Congress to "help reverse the downward spiral of the security situation in Afghanistan" by acting to "oppose the expansion of the war in Afghanistan; require the Obama administration to present and implement an exit strategy; and to press for a greater investment in Afghan-led development efforts and regional diplomacy to stabilize the country."[1] 


[Open letter]


May 12, 2009


Dear Progressive Caucus Member:

The undersigned organizations and concerned individuals have worked closely with the Progressive Caucus to prevent and to end the Iraq War. We appreciate your leadership on this issue and your continued efforts to ensure the removal of all U.S. troops from the country. We are also grateful for all that the Caucus, collectively and individually, has already done to speak out against the widening war in Afghanistan, which contradicts both our national security and our national values.

At this critical moment, your continued leadership to help reverse the downward spiral of the security situation in Afghanistan is urgently required. We urge you to oppose the expansion of the war in Afghanistan; require the Obama administration to present and implement an exit strategy; and to press for a greater investment in Afghan-led development efforts and regional diplomacy to stabilize the country.

We also urge you to press for an immediate end to U.S. air raids that continue to kill and maim Afghan civilians and destroy Afghan property. What is euphemistically termed 'collateral damage' not only takes civilian lives but also inflames Afghans' hostility to the U.S. and wins new supporters for the Taliban. According to the U.N. Assistance Mission, U.S. strikes produced 64% of all civilian deaths caused by the U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces in 2008. Just this week, 'collateral damage' from U.S. air strikes took another 100 innocent lives, according to Afghan officials.

Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, National Security Advisor Jones, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen, and even President Obama himself, have each 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.

The President's FY 2009 supplemental funding request would clearly widen the war in Afghanistan. We urge Congress to restructure the package to focus funding on the expanded diplomacy, development assistance, and international cooperation that are key to ending these conflicts and promoting a stable peace in the wider region. To defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country, the U.S. must enable the Afghan people to develop public services and an effective justice system essential to create political stability and support for the government; to develop agricultural alternatives to drug crops; and to root out corruption.

Given these objectives, the ratio of military to non-military funding in the Administration's $83.4 billion supplemental budget makes little sense. More than 90% of the funds allocated for Afghanistan in the supplemental is for an escalation of war-fighting by U.S. military units. It would widen -- not wind down -- the war there. That contradicts the Administration's own admission about how the 'war' will be won or lost.

President Obama has agreed that the U.S. must convince Afghans we have "no interest or aspiration to be there over the long term." Yet our troop escalation, increased operational tempo, and expansion of large bases suggests just the opposite.

In light of these concerns, we believe that the Congress should restructure the supplemental spending in several critical ways:

* Require the administration to set a date certain for withdrawal.

* Prohibit any further Predator and other missile strikes and aerial bombing likely to result in civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

* Approve the $7.1 billion in funding for the international affairs budget, including: $3.7 billion for humanitarian aid, development initiatives, and diplomatic support in Afghanistan.

* Oppose all new funding for combat in Afghanistan and, at a minimum, dramatically change the proportion of funds for war-fighting compared to those for development, stabilization, and diplomatic cooperation.

Now is the time to reverse direction in Afghanistan so that the U.S., as President Obama envisioned, "forge a hard-earned peace" there.


United For Peace and Justice


Friends Committee on National Legislation

Peace Action

Progressive Democrats of America

U.S. Labor Against the War

Global Exchange

Green Party of the U.S.

Voters For Peace

9th(MA) Coalition for Peace

After Downing Street

Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian and Universalists' Social Justice Committee

Brooklyn For Peace

Cape Codders For Peace & Justice

Central Colorado Coalition on the Iraq War

Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War (NYC)

Colombia Support Network

Columbus Campaign for Arms Control

Community Alliance of Lane County

Center For Social Action, Manhattanville College

De Kalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice


Democratic World Federalists

Dorchester People for Peace (Boston, Massachusetts)

End the War Coalition - Phoenix

Eugene PeaceWorks

Fox Valley Peace Coalition

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Gold Star Families for Peace & MFSO

Grandmothers Against the War (SF/Bay Area)

H.S. Power & Light - Latino Faith Initiative - Colorado

IUCC Advocates for Peace and Justice

Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War

Kansas Progressive Caucus

Lafayette Area Peace Coalition

LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

MFSO Bergen County

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks

National Immigrant Solidarity Network

North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice

North Suburban Peace Initiative

Oak Park Coalition for Truth and justice

Office of the Americas Organization

Oregon WAND

Orlando Peace and Justice

Palisadans for Peace

PDA Florida

PDA Arizona

Peace & Justice Center (Vermont)

Peace Action New York State

Peace Action Wisconsin

Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois

Peace NO War Network

Peace Action Montgomery

Philipstown for Democracy - Garrison, NY

Progressive Librarians Guild

Rock River Peace & Justice Group, Wisconsin

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

School of the Americas Watch

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Somerville/Medford (MA) United for Justice with Peace

Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War

St. Louis Instead of War Coalition

Students for Peace and Justice

Teaneck Peace and Justice Coalition

The Flames of Discontent

TN PeaceRoots Alliance

Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Focus on Iraq

United for Justice with Peace

United for Peace of Pierce County (Tacoma, WA)

US Peace Council

Veterans For Peace Chapter 021 New Jersey

Veterans For Peace Chapter 021 New Jersey

War Times

Washington Peace Center

Watertown (MA) Citizens for Environmental Safety

West Michigan Climate Action Network

Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation

WILPF - Santa Cruz

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Women in Black Phoenix