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Afghanistan

PSR’s Position on the Afghanistan War
(adopted by the Board of Directors on November 13, 2009)

As health professionals, we are mindful of the devastating impact of war on the people of Afghanistan and the US soldiers deployed there. We are also aware of the profound health consequences of war-related injuries and mental health conditions on returning veterans, their families, and our society as a whole.

PSR recognizes that many Americans are deeply concerned about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. We note that there is a clear link to our core work through complex regional issues including the cross-border challenges involving Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons.

As advocates for creative constructive resolution of conflicts, we support increased diplomacy and express our grave concern about ongoing military operations.

PSR also recognizes that U.S. military operations in Afghanistan have cost US taxpayers $228 billion, $60.2 billion of which was spent in FY 2009 alone, and that monthly costs in Afghanistan during FY 2009 averaged $5 billion, up from $3.5 billion per month in FY 2008. This money could have been better spent to respond to pressing human and environmental needs in the US and in Afghanistan.

Therefore, PSR calls on the US government to recognize that no amount of military involvement will bring real and lasting peace to Afghanistan and urges the careful consideration of alternatives to violence.

PSR calls for no further deployment of US military personnel to Afghanistan without a clearly defined strategy for transition from military to civilian engagement.

PSR in addition calls for a phased, responsible withdrawal of all U.S. military forces, together with all NATO forces, from Afghanistan.

PSR remains committed to the health and well being of all people including the Afghan people and recognizes the need for ongoing involvement in Afghanistan to support reconstruction, education, and health care. 


Feingold-McGovern-Jones Introduce Legislation to Require Timetable for Deploying U.S. Troops from Afghanistan

At its April 2010 meeting, PSR’s Board of Directors voted to reaffirm the existing PSR position (above) on the Afghanistan War and supports the Feingold McGovern Jones legislation (described  below).

Press Release from Senator Feingold’s office;  Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Open-Ended Military Presence in Afghanistan is Counterproductive to our National Security Goals

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) announced they are introducing legislation requiring the president to develop a flexible timetable to draw down U.S. troops from Afghanistan, in order to enhance our national security and reduce the burden on our armed forces and on taxpayers.  The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require the president to provide a plan for drawing down our forces in Afghanistan.  The legislation also increases oversight by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) over work done by private contractors with records of waste, fraud and abuse in order to safeguard U.S. taxpayer dollars. 

“At the listening sessions I have held throughout Wisconsin over the last several months, people across the political spectrum have asked why we continue to have a massive military presence in Afghanistan,” said Senator Feingold.  “A large, open-ended presence in Afghanistan is counterproductive to our global fight against al Qaeda.  Rather than pour resources into a nation-building strategy in a country that isn’t even al Qaeda’s base, we should develop a timetable to end our massive presence in Afghanistan, so we are better able to go after al Qaeda’s global network.  We need to be as agile as al Qaeda and we can’t do that if we are bogged down in Afghanistan.”

“After 8 long years, hundreds of billions of dollars and – most importantly – thousands of our brave soldiers killed or wounded, it is past time to re-examine this strategy.  Instead of nation-building in Afghanistan, I believe we should be doing some more nation-building here at home.  The American people deserve accountability – in terms of how and when our troops will be returned to their families and in terms of how taxpayer dollars are being spent,” said Representative McGovern.

“I believe the war on terror needs to be thought of in a different way.  I believe there are other strategies that could be used, as I have discussed with several former generals.  As recent as yesterday I visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda Naval Academy.  Being there and seeing the true cost of war only strengthens my belief that it is time to change our strategy and reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan.  It is time to put an end to the tremendous stress we are placing on our military and their families,” said Representative Jones.

 

Feingold, McGovern and Jones recently wrote to President Obama outlining their concerns that the military strategy for Afghanistan is “not in our best national security interest and makes us dependent upon an unreliable partner in the Afghan government.”  In the letter urging the president to set forth a timetable, the legislators wrote, “The attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day serves as a reminder that we have not been adequately prioritizing the need to track down al Qaeda, especially in emerging safe havens such as Yemen.  Rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda’s global network.”

The legislation:

  • Would require the president to provide a plan and timetable for drawing down our forces in Afghanistan and identify any variables that could require changes to that timetable. 
  • Would safeguard U.S. taxpayer dollars by ensuring all U.S. activity in Afghanistan be overseen by an Inspector General.
  • Does not set a specific date for withdrawal.

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