More than one hundred of our members and readers wrote yesterday agreeing with my letter about responding to the death of bin Laden. Only two wrote disagreeing.
Thanks! His death and the myriad deeper questions it raises suggest that now it's time to take a new direction for Afghanistan, and for America.
This letter today points toward a petition to President Obama that we invite you to sign online. It urges:
End military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bring our soldiers safely home and redirect the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending there to rebuild and renew America.
To sign, you can click here now, or absorb the rest of this letter and then sign.
Beginning when President Obama took office, there has been only one reason to send more and more American soldiers to kill and be killed, maim and be maimed, in Afghanistan.
That was the institutional claim of some in the American military and even more civilian hawks that only military force brings change.
That was never so, and now we know it:
The regions of Afghanistan that were in rebellion against a national government imposed and supported by the U.S. are just as rebellious as they were three years ago.
Without popular support, the Afghan "government" is even more corrupt than it was three years ago.
The people and the government of Pakistan are more hostile to the United States than they were three years ago.
More American soldiers are dying than were three years ago.
More Afghan and Pakistani civilians are being killed than were three years ago.
The heart and muscle of al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan, and the death of bin Laden confirms that it is no longer in Pakistan. The most dangerous al Qaeda cells are thousands of miles away, and the U.S. Army in Afghanistan has no effect upon them.
AND, perhaps most important, now we know that steadfast nonviolence on the part of the Egyptian people has done far more to bring democracy closer than years of U.S. bombs and bayonets.
If we were serious about protecting the American homeland, we would:
• End the humiliation, exploitation and support for tyrannical governments that Big Oil and Big Army have imposed on the Arab and Muslim worlds, thus spawning terrorism;
• Put our technological, economic and political smarts into a swift transformation from fossil fuels and uranium to wind and solar power;
• Uphold our Constitutional commitment that American Muslims are full and equal participants in our society;
• Renew the American economy so that it is fair to everyone and does not generate pockets of rage and despair;
• Invest here, on behalf of life and prosperity, the hundreds of billions of dollars that are being worse than wasted on death and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Now is the time to bring home the American soldiers still fighting an endless, hopeless war in Afghanistan. All of them, not just a token few.
Now is the time to offer instead small-scale grassroots help to Afghan women's groups, impoverished farmers and the Pushtun patriots thrown by our policy into the hands of the Taliban.
Now is the time to appeal to those within the ranks of the Taliban themselves to choose between civil war and social peace. Not on the basis of a will-o'-the-wisp, ever-vanishing possibility of an end someday to American intervention, but a commitment that it is only Afghans who will rule Afghanistan, either with knives at each others' throats or with hands clasping each others' hands. They, not we, must decide.
And now is the time for Americans to say so.
If you agree, please join in a petition to our newly empowered President. Please share this letter with your friends, co-workers, fellow-congregants -- and ask them to sign too.
We will deliver the Peace Petition to the White House when there are 1,800 names, and again at 3,600 names, and so on. (Eighteen is the mystical Jewish number that means chai, "life.")
Your outreach will speed the moment of delivery!
With blessings of shalom, salaam, peace to you and the world.
Follow Rabbi Arthur Waskow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RabbiArthur