FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Feb. 19, 2009   
CONTACT  Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, 646-723-1781

CODEPINK heartbroken by Obama's commitment to continued military aggression in Afghanistan:
Calls for real change, humanitarian aid and reconstruction

WASHINGTON -- CODEPINK Women for Peace is heartbroken and discouraged by President Obama's decision to deploy an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, a screeching halt to his rhetoric for change and moving our country in a new direction.

CODEPINK women call on Obama and his administration to reject a proven-false military solution, and call for a surge in diplomacy and humanitarian aid and an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. 

"It makes no sense to appoint Richard Holbrooke to find a way out of the Afghan quagmire while sending 17,000 more troops," said Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder. "You can't do diplomacy while widening the war. We must freeze the number of troops, engage in immediate diplomatic efforts — with Afghan women at the table — and then replace our military mission with a humanitarian, reconstruction mission. That would reflect the change the American people voted for."

The deployment is a continuation of the same failed U.S. policies that have inspired a Taliban resurgence, raised civilian deaths, and destabilized infrastructure and social system. There is no military solution to Afghanistan, as many military officials and think-tanks have concluded. "You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial-strength insurgency," Gen. David Petraeus told the Associated Press recently, and Special Envoy Holbrooke said, "It is like no other problem we have confronted...I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited."

Not only will military policies not work, but they will lead to an increase in civilian deaths at the hands of the U.S military. A United Nations report released earlier this week found the Afghan civilian death toll nearly doubled in 2008, with the U.S. directly blamed for almost half of these deaths. The number of Afghan people who believe the US has performed well dropped this year to 32 percent from 68 percent in 2005, military scholar Anthony Cordesman told a Congressional hearing last week.  Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of Americans oppose increasing the deployments, and European opposition is so great that leaders of Spain, France and Germany have refused to send any additional forces. 

Obama must take bold and compassionate action to address the Afghan's real need for health care, clean water and education by providing humanitarian assistance through non-governmental organizations, instead of continuing to cripple Afghanistan with more years of war. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same action and expect different results. It's time for change.

Obama's Broken Promise on Iraq

Contact: Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, 415-235-6517
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, 508-769-2138

February 27th, 2009

CODEPINK calls Obama’s announcement of timetable, residual troops in Iraq a “broken promise
Americans must continue to push for change

WASHINGTON — CODEPINK Women for Peace is disheartened by President Obama’s announcement this morning for troop withdrawal by Aug. 2010, later than his campaign promise, leaving residual troops until December 2011.

Americans voted for Obama largely based on his opposition to the war since its start, and his promise to end the occupation in 2009.

“While the move toward withdrawal is positive, this timeline and leaving tens of thousands of residual troops sounds more like occupation-lite than an end to occupation,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. “But compared to the past eight years of moving backward, at least there’s an atmosphere now where we can continue to apply pressure on the administration to push forward.”

CODEPINK women call on Obama and his administration to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops, including residual forces from Iraq. Instead, the U.S. government should increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement. Continued troop presence will only encourage more armed opposition within Iraq and will not force the Iraqi government and Iraqi factions to negotiate power. In addition, with the continued presence of U.S. troops, the international community will doubt the U.S. commitment to withdrawal and will wait to invest in diplomatic and reconstruction efforts.

“Up to 50,000 troops is a big number to leave behind,” said Dana Balicki, CODEPINK campaign coordinator. “And there hasn’t been any word on military bases left in Iraq that will continue to drain billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers at a time where that money is very much needed at home. But the withdrawal, and a timeline, is a baby step forward from past policies. As citizens, it’s our job to move Obama to take giant strides.”