Here are some numbers to consider:
7 years since the war in Afghanistan began
16 Afghani civilians, including 2 women and 3 children, killed by US troops this past Friday night according to President Hamid Karzai. (15 armed militants killed according to US military personnel)
4,000 Afghani civilians killed last year
30,000 troops the Obama administration is preparing to send to Afghanistan this year
173,000,000,000 US dollars spent on the Afghanistan war
Of course, the real cost of war is immeasurable. No number, no matter how big, can possibly convey the extent of human suffering inflicted by any war. Peace is priceless. It requires a huge investment of time and energy to achieve and maintain.
Thousands of ROP members have already dedicated countless hours working for peace. Standing steadfast on the street corner in weekly vigils, exposing the Cost of War in district-wide town halls, marching many miles for peace and justice, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions to keep the Oregon Guard in Oregon, fasting on the capitol steps… But our work is not done. While Obama seems committed to drawing down troops in Iraq – a victory that we should rightfully claim – there is still no hard and fast timeline for withdrawal, and plans to escalate the conflict in Afghanistan are advancing quickly.
Now, as much as ever, we must persevere and keep the pressure on for peace. In Amy Goodman’s article, "Push Obama to Follow Through on Peace Vows," she quotes Obama and FDR, both Presidents committed to working for social justice, but who understood that to accomplish great advancements in their time, they had to rely on we the people to "make them do it." This is our role and our challenge. We cannot wait and we cannot do it alone.
We must act together – yes, in large numbers, but also with big heart – so as to keep hope in community and build power in our collective strength. ROP’s Annual Rural Caucus & Strategy Session, on March 15th & 16th in Salem is a time for just that.
We’ll come together on Sunday morning to puzzle through some tough questions that place the challenges and opportunities of our new reality squarely on the table: Where is the Peace Movement headed? How are we building our power? How will we respond to the situation in Afghanistan? What should our relationship to the Obama administration and our representatives in Congress look like? We’ll examine the toll that war has taken on our own communities in this time of economic hardship, as billions of taxpayer dollars are funneled into war and away from health care, education, renewable energy, and needed services that keep our communities safe and secure. On Sunday afternoon, on the week of the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we’ll rally and march together on the capitol steps to Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad. And on Monday morning, we’ll meet with our legislators and urge them to prioritize peace, justice, and the rebuilding of our communities.
Join us and register now to save your place at the Caucus! We need you to build a more peaceful, just world starting right here in Oregon. Early Bird registration closes Feb. 15th, so make sure to register early and get your discount!
With hope for lasting peace throughout the world –
PS. If you are up for some strategizing ahead of time, join other ROPers at the Oregon PeaceWorks Summit on February 7th, also in Salem. More details are below!
Oregon Peace Summit III
February 7, 2009
First Congregational Church, 700 Marion St. NE, Salem, OR
- Pre-registration is required by February 2nd.
- Send your name, the name of the group you represent, if any, plus $10 to cover space rental, materials and luncheon cost to Oregon PeaceWorks, 104 Commercial St. NE, Salem, OR 97301; or phone 503-585-2767; or fax to 503-588-0088; or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can use your Visa or Master credit card if you prefer. You can also pay your registration fee online at www.oregonpeaceworks.org.
- If your group wants to reserve a literature/merchandise table at the Peace Summit, please let OPW know and include an additional $15 with your registration.
- Visit www.oregonpeaceworks.org to view Oregon Peace Summit documents.