A Chilly Reception in Texas for Obama's Afghan Troop Surge
“This war, destructive of humanity like all wars, is also supporting a corrupt, ineffective Afghani government, and has all likelihood of becoming an endless quagmire. ~ Joe Heyman, Border Peace Presence
El Paso TX, December 1. Downtown El Paso was uncharacteristically coated yesterday morning with a snow that forced the county offices and the University of Texas to close the previous day. Perhaps not as surprisingly, local activists greeted the news of Obama’s impending Afghanistan troop surge announcement with chilly opposition across from the city’s central plaza.
In conjunction with a broad coalition of Texas peace and justice organizations, the Border Peace Presence gathered outside Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) office to emphasize their opposition to any escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Coalition spokespersons call on Obama to completely withdraw all military and paramilitary personnel and announce a plan to rebuild the country.
Joe Heyman, who summoned this special gathering of Border Peace Presence timed to immediately precede Obama’s call for a significant escalation of the war in Afghanistan, stated: “He’s going to promise that in some vague point in the future we’re going to begin to withdraw troops but in the meantime we’re actually adding troops. The wars continue. My sign says: ‘War without end?’. We’re asking that question.”
A dozen peace supporters braved temperatures that hovered just above freezing at the historic Cortez Building, which houses Reyes’s office. Several local television channels filmed their gathering and conducted interviews to illustrate the evening news coverage of Obama’s message.
Since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2000, a total of 467 Texas men and women have lost their lives, according to The Texas Observer (11/27/09). This comprises 9 percent of the total American casualties. The recent toll has averaged one Texan killed per month.
Hundreds more troops will be killed along with countless civilians should the U.S. escalate forces, asserts the non-profit TrueMajority. It could become a decades-long quagmire. Terrorism experts question the effectiveness of this approach to fighting Al Qaeda. Add to this, they say: the war will devastate the US economy and divert funds urgently needed for health care, education and jobs.
Texans have paid $74.2 billion for the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since 2001. That amounts to $3,163 per taxpaying Texan, according to The Texas Observer.
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