Oppose Escalation of the War in Afghanistan

Workers Action

Peace & Justice Committee, Professional Staff Congress/
American Federation of Teachers Local 2334
(City University of New York)

Resolution as adopted by Delegates Assembly of Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334, at City University of New York (see below for original text).

WHEREAS, NYSUT at its 2008 Representative Assembly and the AFT at its 2008 Convention affirmed a resolution entitled Against The Current U.S. Policy of Permanent and Preemptive War, which stated that “the ‘war on terror’ is an ideological construct that obscures the real reasons for the war—which include control over wealth and resources”; and

WHEREAS, control of wealth and resources is deeply at issue in the war in Afghanistan, because of the tremendous strategic importance of Afghanistan in the contest to secure control of the world’s largest remaining resources of oil and natural gas, the country’s strategic location as a conduit for oil and gas from the energy-rich Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean, and its potential as a home for secure permanent bases that could be used in a military attack on Iran; and

WHEREAS, in July 2008 Barack Obama said of Afghanistan that it is “a war we must win” and in December 2008 announced his support for the Pentagon’s plan to send 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, raising U.S. troop levels from 38,000 to 58,000, in addition to the tens of thousands of other foreign troops fighting under the NATO command; and

WHEREAS, last year’s surge in troop numbers did not work—it neither defeated the Taliban nor brought peace and security to Afghanistan; there are now 52,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, up from 36,000 at the beginning of 2007, yet the Taliban now has a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% in 2007; and in the first three months of 2008, attacks around Kabul increased by 70%; and

WHEREAS, fighting for control of energy resources and permanent bases is not worth the terrible cost in human life and suffering; and

WHEREAS, the war has gone on for more than seven years, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,000 U.S. and coalition soldiers, with more soldiers killed in 2008 alone than in the first four years of the war combined; and

WHEREAS, the war in Afghanistan conducted by U.S. and NATO forces has resulted in the deaths of large numbers of civilians—more than 11,000 Afghani civilians since 2001 (The United Nations reported in September that U.S., NATO and Afghan Army forces killed 577 Afghan civilians in the first nine months of 2008, a 21% increase from last year); and

WHEREAS, in 2001 the United States promised a “bright future” to the people of Afghanistan, yet the war has worsened living conditions for many Afghans, with only 31% of households having access to clean water, life expectancy at 43.1 years, adult literacy at 23.5%, 50% of Afghan children under five malnourished, and 6.6 million Afghans without minimum daily food requirements; and

WHEREAS, a survey by the International Council on Security and Development found that six of ten Afghans want foreign troops to leave the country; and

WHEREAS, the Congressional Research Service reported in October 2008 that the war in Afghanistan had already cost more than $173 billion—at a time when federal money is desperately needed to stimulate the U.S. economy and invest in American jobs, housing, schools, and services for working people; and

WHEREAS, there is no foreseeable end to the occupation and no realistic expectation that the U.S.-led coalition will prevail, with the top British military commander in Afghanistan stating, “We are not going to win this war”; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that even as NYSUT and its local union affiliates focus intensely this year on the State budget and the economy, they also recognize the importance of union involvement with foreign policy—and its relation to the current economic crisis; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT oppose escalation of the war in Afghanistan and communicate to the New York State Congressional delegation its opposition to the proposed escalation of the war and to the opening of additional fronts of the war; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT, as an education union, encourage its member locals to conduct education campaigns and open, democratic discussions within locals on significance of the proposed escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the question of a complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT participate in revitalizing the anti-war movement.

Text of resolution as originally presented jointly by the Peace & Justice and International Committees of PSC for consideration by the Delegates Assembly

Demand an End to the U.S./NATO Occupation of Afghanistan

WHEREAS, NYSUT at its 2008 Representative Assembly and the AFT at its 2008 Convention affirmed a resolution entitled Against The Current U.S. Policy of Permanent and Preemptive War, which stated that “…the ‘war on terror’ is an ideological construct that obscures the reasons for the real war—which include control over wealth and resources”; and

WHEREAS, the occupation of Afghanistan is in fact a “permanent and preemptive war” to take advantage of the country’s location as a conduit for oil and gas from the energy-rich Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean, and to secure permanent bases that could be used in a military attack on Iran, which U.S. administrations have threatened to do; and

WHEREAS, fighting for control of energy resources and permanent bases is not worth the terrible cost in human life and suffering; and

WHEREAS, the war has gone on for more than seven years, resulting in the deaths of more than 11,000 Afghani civilians since 2001, many from U.S air strikes, which have obliterated wedding parties and village meetings. (The United Nations reported in September that U.S., NATO and Afghan Army forces killed 577 Afghan civilians in the first nine months of 2008, a 21% increase from last year); and

WHEREAS, U.S. and coalition forces have committed many human rights violations—bomb and missile attacks on civilians; the detention, and in some cases torture, of hundreds of Afghans for years without trial at Bagram air base and Guantanamo Bay; and house invasions; and

WHEREAS, the war has worsened living conditions for many Afghans, with only 31% of households having access to clean water, life expectancy at 43.1 years, adult literacy ar 23.5%, 50% of Afghan children under five malnourished, and 6.6 million Afghans without minimum daily food requirements; and

WHEREAS, a survey by the International Council on Security and Development found that six of ten Afghans want foreign troops to leave the country; and

WHEREAS, more than 1,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers have died since 2001 and costs are now at $173 billion; and

WHEREAS, although previous surges in troop numbers have not been successful in suppressing the insurgency, the Pentagon and President-Elect Obama are planning to send 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, raising U.S. troop levels from 38,000 to 58,000 in addition to the approximately 30,000 other foreign troops fighting under the NATO command; and

WHEREAS, there is no foreseeable end to the occupation and no realistic expectation that the U.S.-led coalition will prevail, with the top British military commander in Afghanistan stating, “We are not going to win this war”; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that NYSUT go on record as opposing a surge in troop levels and call for the withdrawal of all U.S./NATO military forces from Afghanistan.

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