CODEPINK Stands Firm Against Military Escalation in Afghanistan

Contact: Suzanne Stenson O’Brien, 612-868-7619
National Media Coordinator, CODEPINK

October 8th, 2009

CODEPINK Stands Firm Against Military Escalation in Afghanistan
Stop the surge.  Start responsible withdrawal. Convert to humanitarian aid.
Afghan women want focus on economic needs, not war.

(October 8, Washington, DC)—The United States has spent a quarter of a trillion dollars in 8 years of military action in Afghanistan: what have we achieved? According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is 181 out of 182 countries in the world ranked for human development indices. Life expectancy has fallen to 43 years since the U.S. invasion. 40% of the population is unemployed and 42% live on less than $1/day.

CODEPINK leaders went to Afghanistan to see for themselves. Co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans were in Kabul for ten days, and spoke with journalists, doctors, activists, NGOs, members of government and average Afghan women. Most of the women do not want more troops: they want to improve their lives. They want the U.S. investment to reflect what is needed to bring peace. They want investment in the people of Afghanistan. Dr. H.B. Ghazanfar, Women's Affairs Minister, told them, "To fight is not the solution. We have a mouth and a brain, we should talk."

The CODEPINK delegation returned with pleas from the Afghan women to President Obama that they will post on YouTube. Among the Afghan women who asked Obama not to send more troops are members of Parliament Dr. Roshnak Wardak and Shukria Barakzai, the Minister of Women's Affairs Husn Bano Ghazanfar, Surya Parlika of the Afghan Womens Network and businesswoman Wazhma Karzai, who is President Karzai's sister-in-law.

“The protection of Afghan women is often used to justify our military presence, but we have met with an astounding array of Afghan women who said that sending more U.S. troops is not the answer,” said Evans. “President Obama should listen to these women.” To reduce the threat of terrorism and the overall levels of violence, the United States must focus our attention on what Afghans want in their own nation, which is not so different from what we want for ourselves—education, jobs, healthcare, and infrastructure. Afghan women that the delegation spoke with want doctors, teachers, engineers, and business leaders, not more soldiers.  If Americans care about Afghanistan, we need to support development.

According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $228 billion, $60.2 billion of which was spent in FY 2009 alone. With the passage of the FY 2010 Department of Defense budget, total U.S. spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will exceed $1 trillion by March of next year.  

CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.

CODEPINK Founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans are available for interview. Contact Suzanne Stenson O'Brien, 612-868-7619,