Dear Congressman Wu,
On Sept. 16, you declared your support for another round of military escalation in Afghanistan. We strongly disagree. After eight years of US and NATO occupation, we are told by the area commander, General McChrystal, that thousands more US soldiers will be required to stave off defeat. We believe that it is the job of Congress to investigate what has gone wrong, instead of immediately rubber stamping another round of war expansion.
You state the following:
“This isn’t a blank check. Our patience and our resources are not infinite. The Afghan government must do its part to provide accountability and enhance legitimacy. This must be a cause of the Afghan people.”
For eight years a blank check is exactly what Congress has provided. The Afghan Government has just committed flagrant voter fraud in front of the eyes of the world. Every observer admits that it lacks legitimacy, which is why a hated force like the Taliban can sustain itself
US taxpayers have spent at least $280 billion dollars for the Afghanistan war between 2001 and 2008. The US military has been training the Afghan army since 2002. Today, no one can give precise figures on the size of the Afghan army. It is not being relied upon for fighting in its own country. How much has this eight-year training effort cost? One would think that Congress could find out, and even inform its employers – we the people.
Training of the Afghan police has been done by a major US private contractor since 2003. Today the police force is despised and mistrusted. It is widely seen as corrupt, preying on the people, and involved in the heroin trade (along with key members of the Afghan government). What is the cost of this ‘training mission’, and why has it failed so badly?
The Afghan people desperately need food, clothing, fuel, medical care, schools and roads, at the minimum. The US has pledged $10 billion for reconstruction, and has only delivered $5 billion of that pledge. Virtually all that money has been ‘passed thru’ a web of US based private ‘contractors’ instead of hiring local people to do local development. Nearly half of the development spending has gone into ‘technical assistance’, meaning over-paid western consultants. The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is as bad a scandal as the Iraq reconstruction effort.
We demand Congressional hearings into the conduct of the Afghan war, on the role of private contracting in development and security, and especially on the terrible conditions that Afghan citizens must still live under. Before another US soldier is sent in, we want all Americans to understand what has gone on for eight long years. We want an offensive of food, medicine, shelter, schools, not more predator drones and bombs. It is the role of Congress to provide oversight on war spending. Instead of falling in line behind the latest military demand; Congress should do its job.