Pax Christi USA applauds the efforts of all citizens of conscience who have spoken out against the Afghanistan war in these days leading up to President Obama’s decision regarding July troop withdrawal. Sadly, this week’s announcement that 10,000 troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 more by the end of next summer was but a mere gesture and not a serious shift to bring this war to an end.
Pax Christi USA believes the Afghanistan war was a mistake from its beginning, and now—almost 10 years later—more and more agree that the military strategy has gone on too long. As Bishop Robert McElroy said earlier this year, “Catholic doctrine does not permit the continuation of warfare in order to avoid the damage that will come to one’s reputation from defeat. The church’s teaching on right intention in war absolutely precludes starting or continuing a war out of this or any other political motivation.”
Opposition against the war has coalesced in Congress. Two-hundred and four Representatives and 27 Senators recently spoke out in favor of a sizeable and sustained withdrawal timeline. In a historic vote this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution urging an end to the wars. Pew Research reports a majority of Americans favor the troops coming home as soon as possible.
President Obama claimed in his announcement that the “tide of war is receding,” but even 33,000 troops leaving Afghanistan is hardly enough to make this image a reality. Currently, there are 100,000 U.S. troops, 40,000 International troops, 110,000 contractors, 286,000 Afghan National Security Forces, and 150,000 Pakistani troops all in Afghanistan or on its border. This year is on pace to be the deadliest for both U.S. troops and Afghan civilians. Our nation spends $2.3 billion per week on war in Iraq and Afghanistan as funding for human needs are cut. This madness must stop.
In the midst of this week’s squandered opportunity to put forth a significant plan for troop withdrawal, Pax Christi USA grows in its conviction to educate and advocate for peace. We reaffirm our commitment to work for peace in Afghanistan through nonviolent means and we join other faith leaders who believe, “It is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans,” instead of investing in more war and deadly military solutions.
In his speech, President Obama said, “We are all a part of one American family.” As followers of the nonviolent Jesus, Pax Christi USA believes we are all part of one global family—a global family where no one should be subject to war and violence.