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Off-topic favor, Stop War in Afghanistan Action Item

From: Susan S.
Sent on: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 8:19 PM
A campaign to reach key congressmen about stopping the war in Afghanistan is underway, and we are asking for a quick action from everyone who would like to help:

1.  Go to to this link, plug in your zip code and go to your congressman's email form.

2. cut and paste the below into the form and send it.

3. If you have time, call their office (number should be on the same page) and tell them to look for the email with the subject line "Correct the Course in Afghanistan"

This general blast at congressmembers is in support of a more directed campaign at certain ones.  In 3 minutes you can help stop a war which will kill many civilians and American soldiers for no good reason whatsoever.  Thank you.

SUBJECT LINE: "Correct the Course in Afghanistan"

Dear Congressmember,

I would like to urge you to sign onto Peace Action's letter to the president
regarding a US course correction in Afghanistan, which many of your colleagues have already signed, and to work to detail what the components of the non-military side of the solution would look like.  It is vital we get it right as the Taliban is getting stronger every day and American servicemen will pay with their lives with no corresponding increase in American security.

Following is the briefing and the specific legislative agenda of Jobs
for Afghans, which can be executed either by Congress or, since USAID, the principal agency through which reconstruction dollars flow, is
an executive agency, it could be executed by executive order of the

Peace Action letter with congressional signatories:

Best Regards,

Following Exhibits:
-  Brief from Jobs for Afghans
- The Jobs for Afghans Agenda, Overview of New Reconstruction Rules
- Legal strategy for insertion of draft language
- Op-ed: Obama Making the Wrong Turn in Afghanistan

Brief from Jobs for Afghans

Jobs for Afghans now suggests some specifics for the non-military
component of an Obama Afghan policy, whether one agrees with the troop
surge or not.  For those concerned that Obama is making a mistake with
the troop surge, or by focusing on a troop surge alone, here are
talking points on a possible detailed solution.

  --- The way to win the hearts of the Afghan people is to implement
a massive unskilled labor jobs program for the unemployed in
Afghanistan, who are joining the Taliban only because there is 40%
unemployment and the Taliban hires anyone at $8 per day, plus food and
clothing.  We estimate about $5 billion would do it for a couple of
years, and soak up enough of this labor pool.  Pay $10 per day and
Afghans will be tripping over each other to take  this wage.  $5
billion is what we spend in Iraq in 2 weeks.

  ---Such a jobs program is a sustainable model, as the large
infusion of capital to the poorest segment of society will result in
the jump-start of Afghanistan's informal economy.  Afghans are
particularly enterprising at starting small businesses, street vendor
carts, buying taxis and other means of earning a living.  Some Afghan
men have even been quoted as saying they fought for the Taliban just
long enough to buy a truck to haul produce.

  ---Very few Afghan men are joining the Taliban/Al Qaeda out of
ideology or anti-Americanism.  True, they don't like to be occupied,
but everyone hates the Taliban.  They are doing it for the money.  Who
says this?  Top military commanders like Gen. Karl Eikenberry (former
commander US forces in A'stan) and Col. Tom Collins, top Pentagon
spokesman.  Obama is not listening to his COMMANDERS ON THE GROUND  (
see quotes below)

  --- Obama has indicated that he understands we cannot win this
with more troops only.  We have written to his office, the transition
team, and various congressmen and senators.  They talk about "new
approaches" in a general sense but no specifics have emerged yet.

  --- Counter-argument heard: They need security before a works
programs, because the Taliban just attack road crews etc.  But Afghans
are used to working under fire. They will still show up for the jobs.
They have no choice, their families are starving, and the alternative,
Taliban work, is even more dangerous.  Afghanistan has one out of four
infants dying before age five, of malnutrition and preventable
disease.  Three-quarters of the population has no access to safe
drinking water.  In Kabul a mother dies in childbirth every 30
minutes, the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.  There has
been no reconstruction.  Only $60 per capita per year versus $600 per
capita, in adjusted dollars, during Marshall Plan.  "Reconstruction"
in Afghanistan has been a myth, except a shopping mall and a few
5-star hotels for foreign personnel.  Also small number of officials
corrupted by narco-dollars.  The vast majority has not benefited at
all.  See Youtube video HERE.

--- The argument that you can't have jobs without security is
backwards; You can't have security without jobs.

  ---Jobs doing what? What do they need?...EVERYTHING!  Just look up
and you'll see rocket holes in government ministries.  No clean water,
no good roads.  See below for priorities.

  --- They grow poppies because it pays.  We have been promising to
give them alternative crops for years, but they never came through.  A
pomegranate experiment in one province is a rare exception.  If we
create jobs, they'll go for the jobs and not need to grow opium.

  --- Action items include discussions with key congressmembers such
as Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Sen. Claire Macaskill, who led the
passage of the new office of the Special Inspector General for the
Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR, oversight of USAID.)   USAID is
main reconstruction agency.  Obama could issue a couple of executive
orders and fix the problem.  Alternatively, legislation could be
introduced governing reconstruction rules at USAID (see proposed
specifics below)


  Col. Tom Collins, the top Pentagon spokesman in Afghanistan, told PBS:

     "There is a low percentage of the total Taliban force who we
would call ideologically driven. We refer to them as Tier 1 people who
believe their ideology, that what they're doing is right. The vast
majority of Taliban fighters are essentially economically
disadvantaged young men."

  General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in
Afghanistan, told Congress in 2007:

        "Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of
unemployed men looking for wages to support their families"

The Jobs for Afghans Agenda, Overview of New Reconstruction Rules:

The legislation or executive order shall state that:

     1. Requests for proposals from vendors bidding for contracts
from USAID shall require a job-creation component, in which
contractors shall describe the number of jobs for Afghan nationals
will be created by the project, plans for the substitution of labor
for capital equipment whenever feasible, and plans for the
maximization of capacity-building in skills for Afghan nationals. In
bid submissions such components shall be weighted at 20 percent of
points for awarding contract. Bid evaluation of pricing shall be
exclusive of the additional costs of job-development components, so
that aggressive job-creation components are not penalized.

     2. Subcontractors to the principle contractor shall not be
exempt from job-creation requirements, and shall report any data
required to the office of the Inspector General of USAID.

     3. Overhead for the subcontracting of work to further
subcontractors shall not exceed five-percent.

     4. USAID shall prioritize rural road, water, electricity,
irrigation, and medical clinic projects, at the provincial and
district level, in coordination with the development plans of the
appropriate Afghan government ministry.

     5. USAID shall set a target of the one million new jobs by June
2009, which can be performed by unskilled labor from Afghan nationals,
and shall coordinate bids for work in a manner consistent with the
achievement of this goal.


Legal strategy for insertion of draft language:

As congressional legislation, we believe the above language would be
inserted in Title 22, Chapter 82, subchapter I ? 7516, in a new
section "g," governing USAID assistance to Afghanistan.

Monitoring shall be accomplished by inserting as follows into
H.R.1535, section 1229 (f)(1):

(A) the oversight and accounting of the obligation and
expenditure of such funds; [INSERT: according to guidelines enumerated
in Title 22, Chapter 82, subchapter I ? 7516, section "g."]

(B) the monitoring and review of reconstruction activities
funded by such funds; [INSERT: according to guidelines enumerated in
Title 22, Chapter 82, subchapter I ? 7516, section "g."]

(C) the monitoring and review of contracts funded by
such funds; [INSERT: according to guidelines enumerated in Title 22,
Chapter 82, subchapter I ? 7516, section "g."]



Obama Making the Wrong Turn in Afghanistan
by Ralph Lopez

Imagine that, after World War II, instead of investing in the Marshall
Plan in Europe, we allowed Europe to slide into decay. Eight years
after the end of the war, unemployment across Europe is 40%. There are
reports of literal starvation in the countryside. There are pockets of
prosperity -- the more fortunate are getting televisions and cars --
but the vast majority of the population lives in various stages of

Now imagine extreme political factions -- in those days it would have
been communists -- making inroads, because they pay a small but living
wage to new fighters, plus help with food and medicine. There is no
work. The extremists are the employer of last resort. This is exactly
what is happening in Afghanistan.  People are starving.

Col. Tom Collins, the top Pentagon spokesman in Afghanistan, told PBS:

  "There is a low percentage of the total Taliban force who we would
call ideologically driven. We refer to them as Tier 1 people who
believe their ideology, that what they're doing is right. The vast
majority of Taliban fighters are essentially economically
disadvantaged young men."

And General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in
Afghanistan, told Congress in 2007:

     "Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed
men looking for wages to support their families"

Yearly reconstruction assistance has amounted, in adjusted dollars, to
$60 per person versus the $600 per person we spent on the Marshall
Plan.  Forty percent of the workforce is unemployed. The well-financed
Taliban pays $8 a day to its fighters, a fortune in this country, and
the Taliban is always hiring! Go figure why the insurgency is growing.
What is the Obama administration doing? Following the path which
carries the most risk: more troops. More troops, more civilian
casualties.  More civilian casualties, more hatred.  More hatred, more

As always we are focusing on the "pointy" end of foreign policy. When
we are roundly hated, we will wonder what went wrong. One of the big
talking points among the "experts" now is about government corruption.
This is a problem, but the much bigger problem is the kind of
corruption which is officially sanctioned. Out of the relatively
measly $60 per capita spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan, roughly
40% goes straight back out of the country in the form of profits for
foreign contractors, according to a recent Oxfam report.

Need a school? Hire a foreign construction firm to design it, import
materials to build it, rather than scout around for what's local, and
import leased heavy equipment to do the digging and clearing, rather
than give lots of shovels and picks to men who would do just about
anything for $10 a day. It's like giving a man in the desert a thimble
of water and taking half of it back.

The gravest misconception about the insurgency is that it is driven by
ideology, not economics. The Americans, at first, were truly welcomed
in Afghanistan. The country was relatively stable until a year ago,
when the people got tired of waiting for help which never arrived.
The Taliban took full advantage of it.

Unlike Saddam in Iraq, who had a natural constituency in his Sunni and
tribal base, the Taliban has its mysterious roots in the madarsas of
Northern Pakistan.  It has little popular support except its ability
to force obedience. This was related to me by an Afghan colleague who
told me how, "if there was a ten dollar bill laying on a street
corner, you could come back days later and that ten dollars would
still be there." Why? Because if you were accused of stealing it, they
would cut off your hand. The Taliban insurgency is growing as a result
of economic conditions, not ideological ones. Most Afghans hate the
Taliban, but they need to feed their families.

Top British official Captain Leo Docherty has called Afghanistan "a
textbook case of how to screw up a counterinsurgency."

In a report from Helmund Province a young man told a reporter that it
was either the Taliban or watch his family starve. "I couldn't find a
job anywhere," said 19-year-old Jaan Agha. "So I had to join the
Taliban. They give me money for my family expenditures. If I left the
Taliban, what else could I do?" Herein lies the problem and the
promise for the Obama administration. They'll keep joining the
Taliban, unless we give them something else to do.

Obama has indicated that he understands the problem, then goes and
does exactly the wrong thing: send troops, rather than make jobs. The
shame is that right now, this minute, he still has a choice of
approaches.  As the snows melt in the passes and the spring fighting
season arrives, and hatreds and hostilities harden, that choice will
vanish like the snows.

Empires have stomped through Afghanistan since the beginning of
history and have always met a bad end.  These fierce, independent
people take to being occupied less than perhaps any other people on
Earth.  In the summer of 2008, a young Marine captain sat down with
village elders in a Southern province, with his men, and said, "We
know many faces have come through here over 30 years...the question we
have to answer to you is how we are different."

Afghanistan can be won by implementing a massive infrastructure
program focusing on rural roads, where most people live (not a
state-of-the-art highway to the airport,) on digging pipeline for
water systems (3/4 of the country has no access to safe drinking
water, a major cause of death and disease,) and on irrigation.
Reconstruction must be managed in a way which creates millions of
unskilled labor jobs for Afghans, rather merely benefiting foreign
contractors like Kellogg-Root-Brown.

Noor Ahmed Qarqeen, Afghan Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, said
"Men who work, have no time to make war."

American casualties are at an all time high, and will go higher as
young soldiers fight heroically and with extraordinary sensitivity
against both insurgents, and a deaf, dumb, and blind American foreign

Ralph Lopez is the founder of Jobs for Afghans.



Per capita assistance amounts:

Forty percent unemployment:

Taliban pays $8 per day:

Reconstruction assistance recycled back out of the country, 40 percent profits:
ACBAR Report, "Aid Effectiveness in Afghanistan"

Captain Docherty quote:
"Military policy in Afghanistan 'barking mad'"

General Karl Eikenberry Congressional Testimony 2007

Jaan Agha quote:
IWPR: "Few Choices for Helmand's Troubled Youth"

Other Background Sources:

Bloomberg: "Obama's Afghan War Plans May Run Into Weary Public, Deficits";_ylt=AtaLyuu3W6D3xyB0StQXutOs0NUE

Food shortages cause grass eating, displacement

Jobs for Afghans outline of legislation:

"Job creation should be top of Canada's Afghan strategy: Kandahar
leaders," Canadian Press, May 2008

Afghanistan Study Group Final Report,

Starvation, Kandahar Province (YouTube)

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