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18 Mar, 2009 08:22

U.S. lawmakers appeal to Obama against Afghan troop surge

A cross-party group of 15 congressmen have written to President Obama asking him to “reconsider” sending 17,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. They fear the new administration may be following old policies.

“As the goals of our seven year military involvement remain troublingly unclear, we urge you to reconsider such a military escalation,” they wrote.

“If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counter-productive,” the letter also says. “A recent study by the Carnegie Endowment [global peace study organisation] has concluded that ‘the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency's momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban’.”

Congressman Ron Paul says the troops shouldn’t have been there in the first place and ought to come home.

“I made that statement in the presidential debates: we just marched in, we just have to march out,” he says.

Ron Paul fears this is a return to old ways.

“I think the new administration will follow the old administration in foreign policy – very interventionist, very much involved in militarism. They’ll be maintaining troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and who knows?” he says.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich says he doesn’t think for a moment that any Congress member who voted for the authorisation to use military force in Afghanistan was “voting for an occupation of Afghanistan”.

The troop increase would bring the number of U.S. soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan to over 50,000. With attacks from the Taliban on the rise, Congress members don’t want to be responsible for more lost lives and more spending.

Congressman Walter B. Jones says, “The economy is falling apart, we have problems south of the border, our troops are worn out. It just doesn’t make any sense”.

“Afghanistan is where empires go to die”

Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and thirteen other Republican and Democratic Members of Congress cite historical precedent in Afghanistan to back up their plea to Obama.

“Mr. President, in reviewing the past history of Afghanistan and the nations that have failed to conquer it – Russia spent nine years in Afghanistan and lost many billions of dollars and more than 15,000 Russian soldiers – we urge you to reconsider the decision to send an additional 17,000 troops and to resist pressure to escalate even further,” their letter concludes.

And escalating the war even further has caused many analysts and experts to question whether or not the United States can 'win this war', and what that really means in the first place.

In October 2008, RT’s Washington D.C. correspondent Dina Gusovsky asked George Friedman, the CEO of private intelligence firm STRATFOR, what would happen if the United States escalated the conflict and attempted to build a democracy in Afghanistan. He said that the idea of creating a democracy in Kabul is ‘a complete fantasy.’

A few months later, former politician and political commentator Pat Buchanan said, “Afghanistan is where empires go to die.”

Experts also suggest the conflict will not end anytime soon and that many in the United States are questioning whether it makes sense to concentrate efforts abroad when the economic crisis for Americans is already hitting at home.