Afghan engagement needed, not war escalation, says US church

By staff writers
December 3, 2009

The head of the United Church of Christ in the USA has released a statement critical of President Barack Obama’s decision to dramatically escalate troop levels in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York, on 1 December 2009, President Obama announced that 30,000 additional troops as well as 4,000 trainers, will be deployed to fight in the eight-year war.

“Many [people] are concerned that a strategy relying so heavily on military escalation will not achieve the lasting peace that we are called to seek,” the Rev Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC’s General Minister and President, said in a written statement.

He declared: “An approach that more heavily invests in developmental efforts that will address the root causes of violence, corruption, poverty and injustice, and provide leadership for intensified regional diplomacy, seems a more promising path to the de-escalation and eventual ceasefire of this long and deadly conflict.”

Black also expressed concern for military families, saying the escalation “asks far too much of our already strained military forces at this time.”

The Administration should change its strategy from “winning the war” to “finishing the job,” Black said, by placing renewed emphasis on “engagement over escalation.” He urged the need to address the “root causes of violence” which plague the Afghan people, such as poverty, corruption and injustice.

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