I'm in DC this week for the America's Future Now! conference, where I'm helping bring together a panel of experts from Afghanistan to discuss the war with conference attendees and members of Congress. As this war escalates, as the death toll soars and the financial and moral costs spiral out of control, we at Brave New Foundation are working with Campaign for America's Future to bring in experts who can provide a more complete picture of the dire situation in Afghanistan.
Today, June 2, from 5:30-6:30 PM in Room 2101 of the Rayburn House Office Building, there will be a briefing for congressional members and staff entitled: "Rethink Afghanistan: A View from the Ground." The following experts will discuss their perspective on issues facing Afghanistan with a focus on women's rights and empowerment:
Dr. Roshanak Wardak is an MP in the Afghan parliament. She is one of the few MPs who represent nearly 1 million people in their province. She is also a gynecologist and spent many years working with Afghan women in refugee camps in Pakistan.
Ann Jones is the author of eight books of nonfiction, most recently Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan. She spent the last eight years doing humanitarian work in conflict zones--four of them in Afghanistan--and is now working on a book about the impact of war on women worldwide.
Anand Gopal is a journalist covering the "Global War on Terror" from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia to the United States. He is a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, a contributor to the Huffington Post, and a blogger at www.anandgopal.com.
All three of these experts either currently live or have recently resided in Afghanistan, and they offer a profound understanding of the complex issues involved in this war. We have interviewed them for the Rethink Afghanistan documentary campaign, and now we are bringing them to DC, where they will engage elected officials, policymakers, think tank experts, and others.
If you are an elected official or a staffer, please attend this briefing. Please call the offices of your members of Congress in the House or Senate and ask them to meet us as we Rethink Afghanistan.
There are important decisions ahead that will affect the lives of Afghan and American people for decades to come. It is critical that the decision-makers and those who advise them hear from a variety of views and opinions. We cannot repeat the closed circle that helped spawn Iraq and Vietnam. Let's learn from the mistakes of the Iraq war, during which we primarily heard from a few neocon-financed and supported Iraq expatriates. And let's learn from the mistake made in listening to General Harkins during Vietnam, who assured the American people things were going smoothly as the violence escalated.
In the words of David Halberstam from "The Best and the Brightest," Like almost all Americans who arrived in Vietnam, Harkins was ignorant of the past, and ignorant of the special kind of war he was fighting. To him, like so many Americans, the war had begun the moment he arrived; the past had never happened and need not be taken seriously.
Please call the offices of your members of Congress at once, and urge them to attend today's briefing.