Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A CALL FOR A NEW APPROACH IN AFGHANISTAN


The following letter is being issued by over a dozen Christian leaders to President Obama, as he considers a new strategy in Afghanistan. I am supporting this letter.  You can use this link to support it, too.
Dear Mr. President,

We believe, that after eight years of war, we need a whole new approach in Afghanistan.

We speak not as military or political strategists, but as citizens seeking to faithfully apply our moral values to this most crucial issue. We want first of all to commend you for taking the time to make a careful and considered decision on this important matter that will affect the lives of so many.

We feel deeply about the ethical and moral issues at stake in our future policy in Afghanistan - legitimately protecting Americans from further terrorism, protecting the lives of our men and women in uniform, protecting the Afghan people from the collateral damage of war, defending women from the Taliban, and genuinely supporting democracy - to name a few.

But we also lament the suffering, violence, and death on both sides of the conflict and recognize that war can never bring about the peace we strive to build in this world.

We are concerned that the discussion in Washington, D.C., is far too narrow. We respectfully and prayerfully suggest that you pursue a strategy built on a humanitarian and development surge.

Massive humanitarian assistance and sustainable development can rebuild a broken nation, inspire confidence, trust, and hope among its people, and undermine the appeal of terrorism. And it costs less - far less - than continued war.

Lead with economic development, starting in areas that are secure, and grow from there - providing only the security necessary to protect the strategic rebuilding of the country. Do not make aid and development another weapon of war by tying it so closely to the military; rather, provide the security needed for development work to succeed. This kind of peacekeeping security might better attract the international involvement we so desperately need, both from Europe and Arab and Muslim countries.

Pursue political and diplomatic solutions by promoting stable governance in Afghanistan and Pakistan; seeking political integration of those elements of the Taliban that are willing to cooperate; engaging with the United Nations and regional states to stabilize the region and promote economic development; and investing in international policing to prevent the spread of extremists and the use of terror.

We humbly suggest you host a meeting with the heads of the leading, well-established international development agencies in Afghanistan, who are trusted by the people of the country and have many indigenous employees. These organizations can share what kind of security they would need for the development that is most needed. Equally important, meet with members of Afghan civil society for their perspective as well. This input is crucial to your decision on Afghanistan.

Finally, it is time for a vigorous, public, and ongoing conversation between the government and the faith community about the moral and ethical implications of our policy decisions. Our counterterrorist missiles and unmanned drones may cost less in American lives and treasure, but they have very significant political and moral costs. The collateral damage of our technological war is great, resulting in many civilian deaths - further alienating the populace and, inadvertently, producing more recruits for terrorism.

Mr. President, we urge you to take the approach of effective humanitarian aid and development and genuine engagement with the moral issues that confront us in Afghanistan. As always, you are in our prayers as you seek the right decisions to these most difficult questions and choices.

Sincerely,

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