The HAW Steering Committee has voted to adopt the following two statements related to the war in Afghanistan.
Statement on military resistance:
This statement was submitted by Staughton Lynd and approved by the HAW Steering Committee. Correspondence on it should be sent to another member of the Steering Committee.
Historians Against the War supports soldiers in the United States military who refuse to fight in Afghanistan, either as conscientious objectors or on the grounds that the United States is committing war crimes forbidden by Nuremburg and the Army Field Manual, such as the use of drone aircraft in Pakistan.
Statement on Escalation in Afghanistan:
This statement originated in a draft suggested by Herbert Shapiro, emeritus history professor at the University of Cincinnati. It was amended somewhat in discussions within the Steering Committee and adopted.
Historians Against War (HAW) expresses its opposition to the escalation of the Afghanistan War announced by President Obama in his December 1 speech at West Point. Once again we are told the United States must increase its commitment of human and material resources in support of a government, steeped in corruption, that fails to demonstrate support of a majority of its country’s population.
In his speech, President Obama took issue with any claim that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. The two conflicts are not carbon copies of each other but there are distinct similarities. And if we go on with the Afghan War it may be that we have not fully learned the lessons of Vietnam.
The Vietnamese would not yield to a counter-insurgency that believed sending increasing numbers of troops, dropping more and more napalm upon them, and flying more bombing runs was a formula for victory. They would not yield to a strategy that could not distinguish between soldiers and civilians and pretended that a discredited Saigon regime had the support of the people over whom it ruled.
In Afghanistan we once more follow the path of escalation, inflicting “collateral” damage on a civilian population and propping up a corrupt government. In the present war we once more adopt a “guns not butter” policy, making war while undermining our ability to devote the resources needed to make the economic reforms so urgently needed at home.
Afghanistan’s own recent history provides further reason for opposing the Obama administration’s current course of action. The Soviet experience of the late 1970s and early 1980s dramatically reinforced Afghanistan’s role as the “graveyard of empires.” At the same time, U.S. intervention in the form of aid to the most reactionary anti-Soviet forces helped lay the groundwork for the emergence of al-Qaeda.
HAW urges a change in direction. We need an Afghanistan policy that includes a full, early, and orderly withdrawal of U.S. military forces, economic assistance to Afghani civil society, and a relinquishment of any project for permanent U.S. bases.