[pjw] NEWS: Allies on Afghanistan and other updates from the IAG meeting

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Aug 26 19:27:41 EDT 2017

Greetings Iraq Affinity Group supporters
Below is a piece written by Republican congressman Walter Jones, who is 
one of the strongest voices in congress about getting the US out of 
Afghanistan. Yesterday I heard Sen. Jeff Merkley kind of waffling as the 
host of OPB's Think Out Loud trotted out the old canard that the US 
pulling out will let the Taliban take over in Afghanistan. Playing off 
such fears is what has kept the US in that country almost 16 years now and 
has been used in about every country the US put its troops and refused to 
leave. Sen. Merkley did point out that the US presence there has led to 
the violence and instability.

Merkley also noted that telling North Korea to give up its weapons as a 
precondition to holding talks is not a useful diplomatic move.

Here are some other bits of information we went over at the Iraq Affinity 
Group meeting on the 14th which you may find of interest:

* While we sometimes think PJW is the only organization that notes the 
annual dates marking the third invasion of Iraq and first of Syria, we 
found this article from Agence France Presse on August 8 that notes:
    As of July 26, 2017, the coalition had conducted 13,221 strikes in
    Iraq, and 10,701 strikes in Syria, for a total of 23,922 strikes at a
    daily cost averaging $13.6 million.

    The coalition has acknowledged killing 624 civilians to date, though
    observers say the real number is much higher.

--"Anti-IS operations enter fourth year"

* Speaking of which, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force 
technically doesn't cover ISIS, and Congress has never authorized the 
current military activities. In his great benevolence, President Trump is 
willing to help Congress write an AUMF for him to use.

--"Trump admin willing to work with Congress on war authorization" 
(Reuters 8/2)

* As if being at war in six countries and threatening/ increasing 
tensions with four others (Iran, Russia, N. Korea and Venezuela) isn't 
enough, the US is considering dropping bombs in the Philippines too.

--"US May Begin Airstrikes Against ISIS in Philippines" (NBC 8/7)

* Many of you may have missed that Roots Action held a news conference on 
August 8 that was covered on C-Span calling for the removal of US 
airplanes from Syria. Speakers included a CIA whistleblowed, a former 
State Department member, Norman Solomon and David Swanson.


* Continuing information we learned last month, the US military is 
withholding information on casualties in Afghanistan because of the 
"limited number of troops" there, even though (a) it's the largest 
contingent in the six active wars right now, and (b) none of the other 
commanders are withholding such information.

--"US military wrangles over release of American casualty info" (AP 8/2)

* ...and an NBC poll finds 76 percent of Americans fear the US will be 
engaged in a major war in the next four years, up from 66 percent in 

--"Poll: American Fears of War Grow" (NBC 7/18)

OK, now here's that letter from Rep. Jones.
dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Rep. Walter Jones Appeals to President Trump To Get US Out of Afghanistan
    Rep. Walter Jones Posted on [20]July 20, 2017

    President Donald J. Trump
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

    Washington, D.C. 20500

    Dear Mr. President:

    Many of us in the U.S. House of Representatives believe we have been
    denied our sacred duty to debate and declare war. You could say that I
    am disappointed by this. Disappointed because after 16 years in
    Afghanistan, Congress deserves another vote on this conflict.
    Disappointed because almost $1 trillion of taxpayersÕ money has been
    spent with no direct goal or strategy. And most importantly, I am
    disappointed because we continue to lose American lives.

    Sir, I am writing today because you seem to have had a change of heart
    on this issue:

    1. In August of 2011, you agreed with Ron Paul and said the US was
    Òwasting lives and money in Iraq and Afghanistan.Ó

    2. In 2012, you referred to Afghanistan as a Òcomplete waste,Ó and
    declared it was Òtime to come home.Ó

    3. The next year, you said on Twitter, ÒDo not allow our very stupid
    leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024 Ð with
    all costs by U.S.AÉÓ

    4. You also tweeted that year, ÒLetÕs get out of Afghanistan. Our
    troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions
    there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.Ó

    Mr. President, I agree with those remarks, and so does the 31st
    Commandant of Marines Corps, my friend, and unofficial advisor, General
    Chuck Krulak. As he said in a recent email to me, ÒNO ONE has ever
    conquered AfghanistanÉand many have tried. We will join the list of
    Nations that have tried and failed.Ó

    Mr. President, that is why I am asking you to review this thinking
    before approving any troop level increases from General Mattis. I
    believe you would see great benefit and wisdom in asking Congress to
    debate and vote on troop level increases as well. You would then have
    the American people and their elected officials share a decision to
    send more of our sons and daughters into harmÕs way. Once you come to a
    consensus, I suggest you publicly go before the American people and US
    military to explain the benchmarks you choose for Afghanistan. Previous
    administrations have not been able to clarify those endpoints, which is
    unfair to taxpayers and our troops. In the end, we all share this
    responsibility, and it is time that not only Congress but also the
    American people have a say. Sixteen years is enough!

    Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires! We do not want a tombstone to
    read ÒUnited States of America.Ó


    Walter B. Jones
    Member of Congress (R-NC)

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