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Plymouth UCC members express opposition to war in Afghanistan

By Mary Stamp - Pacific NW Conference News Editor

More than 250 people at  Plymouth Congregational UCC in Seattle have signed a petition calling the President and Congress to “be realistic” and realize military and political goals for the United States in Afghanistan cannot be achieved.

Afghanistan petition

Martha Poolton, Sara McKenzie and Medora Moburg review petitions. - Photo courtesy of Adele Reynolds

“In Afghanistan, America Must Face Reality: A fervent call to end our military involvement in Afghanistan” is the title of petition and a paper Plymouth’s Peace Action Group agreed on, reported petition coordinator Adele Reynolds. 

The petition asks the United States 1) stop taking responsibility for the struggle against the Taliban; 2) end its combat role in Afghanistan by July 2011; 3) end plans to operate permanent military land and air bases there; 4) educate Afghans, particularly girls and women; 5) revise U.S. A.I.D. procedures to include local people in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of civil development projects; 6) press to end corruption, and 7) promote arts of peace, rather than arts of war, as the best way to draw support from the Taliban.

Reynolds, co-chair of the Peace Action Group, said the reources are online at click on downloads and then sermons/Peace Action Group Afghanistan Position Paper. 

The petition is based on a paper by Richard Pelz, 87, who retired with his wife to Seattle after a career as an attorney, aide to former Congressman Don Magnuon and 25 years with the Interior and Energy Departments in Washington, D.C.

Given his hobby of following foreign policy news, he agreed in August to write the paper. There was much news on Afghanistan, he said.

“I learned more than I had known and grew more disgusted with our role there,” he said.

The paper begins by summarizing America’s questionable interventions in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Each country has a history, a religion and a people that Americans do not understand. The last 60 years, the U.S. has intervened politically and militarily in these countries seven times, often on the wrong side and with disastrous consequences,” he wrote.

The times were installing the Shah in Iran in 1953; aiding the Mujahadeen fighting Russian occupation (1979 to 1989); a failed military rescue of the U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980; support of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War; the first Gulf War in 1991; troops in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.

“This record does not inspire confidence that we know what we are doing,” Pelz said, citing a lack of infrastructure improvements, continued violence and an estimated $3 trillion in costs for the war in Iraq.

He said Al Qaeda started as a small faction of global Jihadists led by Osama bin Laden and emerged as a movement with groups in Pakistan and Yemen.

“They are rejected by mainstream Islamic organizations,” he wrote, adding that after 9/11 he realized he knew little about Islam and began reading on it.

Pelz said the Taliban are “the latest group of fanatic religious reformers in the 1,400 year history of Islam.”  As religious reformers, their focus is primarily on other Muslims.

“In war as in physics, every action has a reaction—the more we fight the Taliban and kill civilians, the more we create recruits for the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and around the world,” he said.

Goals a New York Times reporter listed for U.S. policy in Afghanistan—“oust Taliban militants, build a credible central government and restore security”—are not achievable politically or militarily, he said, because of no tradition of democracy; government corruption and incompetency; low literacy; a blind desire to win, and Pentagon investment in multi-million-dollar facilities. The petition summarized his recommendations.

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Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © January 2011


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