Congressional Progressive Caucus Hearing on the 10th Anniversary of the Afghanistan War
October 7, 2011
Yesterday the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Peace and Security Task Force held a hearing on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. WAND/WiLL women Rep.Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) both serve as co-chairs of the CPC Peace and Security Task Force, and have been staunch advocates against the war in Afghanistan.
Congresswoman Woolsey delivered opening remarks by promoting her Smart Security initiative. House Resolution 19 calls for the adoption of a “smart security” platform for the 21st century that makes war a last resort by focusing on diplomacy, multilateral cooperation, and peaceful conflict resolution. Following the Congresswoman’s remarks, a panel of academics, experts, and advocates described the costs of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and provided practical alternatives to continued military action in Afghanistan.
Shukria Dellawar, an Afghanistan expert with extensive contacts in Afghani civil society, criticized the heavy US military strategy and lack of serious commitment to supporting the Afghani people. Dellawar highlighted the failure of reconciliation efforts, and reiterated questions she heard on a recent trip to Afghanistan: “Where is the security?” and “When will aerial bombings and air raids end?” She also emphasized the need to reconcile ethnic and political leaders in Afghanistan and to bring Pakistan to the table. The military policy has failed to consider the lives of the Afghani people and will not succeed if it continues.
Lisa Schirch, Director of 3P Security and a Research Professor at Eastern Mennonite University, offered three recommendations to bolster the peace process. To reach a successful political settlement, Schirch emphasized the need to have more members of civil society, especially women, be a part of the peace process. More stakeholders must participate in the negotiations, not just the Taliban and the Karzai Administration. She also highlighted the need for the U.S. to deploy more diplomatic staff to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the surrounding region. In addition, Schirch recommended that the U.S. State Department develop a mediation and negotiation support unit to work on the comprehensive peace process. Unlike other nations, the U.S. does not have a well-trained team with the knowledge, experiences, and skills to support peace processes.
Brock McIntosh, an Army National Guard Specialist and conscientious objector status applicant, spoke about the power of nonviolence. He recently met with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and cited the growing peace movement in Afghanistan. McIntosh emphasized nonviolence as a viable alternative to war and one which has a history in Afghanistan. One significant point McIntosh raised was that there is no “precise measure of violence required to yield peace.” This is a concept which has become increasingly clear and further underlines the need to end the US contribution to violence in Afghanistan.
Written by Ellen Freedman (WAND Intern) and Elaina Ramsey (WAND Field Coordinator)
- WAND/WiLL Women’s Statements about the 10th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan
- WAND/WiLL Women Respond to President Obama’s Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Plan