The war in Afghanistan has lasted nearly 10 years, making it among the longest wars in United States history. The original mission, to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks, has shifted into a broader effort against the Taliban. The U.S. attempt to secure a stable Afghan state has been ineffective and out of balance, with military operations dominating while political and diplomatic strategies are marginalized.
The Afghan government remains dependent on U.S. military support and has not been able to take responsibility for managing internal and external threats. Financing this war has required the U.S. to borrow $14 billion per month, draining crucial resources and adding to the deficit. At a time when the U.S. debt is of deep concern, defense savings should be a top priority. Many are fearful that President Obama is wavering on his previously stated timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.
In the Platform for the Common Good, NETWORK affirms a commitment to conflict resolution through diplomacy instead of military force. We maintain that there is no “military solution” in Afghanistan. The sustained presence of troops will not create peace. We must encourage the Obama administration to follow through with an accelerated withdrawal of troops starting in July of 2011 as part of a transition to Afghan leadership and responsibility. The Afghan government needs to become increasingly less dependent on the U.S., and the U.S. needs to prioritize development and diplomacy in the region.
In order to further these goals, NETWORK urges the President and Congress to:
Engage the international community in diplomatic conflict resolution and strategic development in Afghanistan and the region. The demonstrated complexities of this military campaign and the shifting U.S. mission require a multilateral strategy for Afghanistan. International institutions and coalitions can facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. troops, encourage internal political reconciliation in Afghanistan, support economic development, and enhance other efforts to address complex challenges in the region. In addition to the UN and the NATO-ISAF coalition, the U.S. should look to the International Contact Group on Afghanistan – an established coordinating group on Afghanistan – and should welcome the participation of countries outside the NATO bloc.
Encourage regional dialogue, support, commitment, and coo