One of American's most prominent Black women politicians has launched a broadside against President Barack Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
Outspoken Californian Congresswoman Maxine Waters says the billions of dollars Obama's "troop surge" will cost would be better spent creating jobs and tackling the economic crisis in the US.
She said, in a statement on her website: "I am opposed to sending 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, and I am not convinced that this so-called new strategy fully addresses the concerns that many Americans have about extending our military operations there."
Waters added: "If this is the “new” strategy, then the billions of dollars the Administration plans to spend in Afghanistan would be better spent to help create jobs in the United States, respond more effectively to the ongoing foreclosure crisis and meet our other domestic needs."
The Congresswoman, who told journalists that the anti-war politician Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, backs her stand, went on: "I believe President Obama has appropriately devoted considerable time and given much thought to formulating a strategy for moving forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Bush took his focus off of Afghanistan early on and allowed US policy there to drift for many years.
"President Obama at least spoke of an exit strategy – something I have called for – announcing his hope that in July 2011 the US would be able to start transferring power to Afghan security forces and begin to bring US troops home, but he did not provide sufficient details on how we would achieve our goals and be able to withdraw from Afghanistan.
"Likewise, the President’s strategy incorporates civilian assistance programmes and partnerships that my colleagues in the Congressional Progress Caucus favour, but we do not yet know if these programmes will be adequately supported because the disproportionate emphasis on military efforts will continue.
"I cannot support a continued policy of waste and open-ended spending in Afghanistan, especially given the severe economic challenges we must confront within our own country. For eight years, the United States has invested $220 billion dollars in Afghanistan.
Despite the amount of money and resources expended, the Taliban is stronger than ever, the Afghan government is corrupt, and the country has failed to achieve functioning democratic institutions and economic development. President Obama’s strategy will cost the United States $30 billion more per year to implement.
Moreover, I am not entirely convinced that our senior military officials will do a better job of tracking the spending and ensuring that our investment in Afghanistan does not lead to further waste, mismanagement, and careless outsourcing to private contractors whose connections we do not fully understand."
* Progressive Obama supporters who also oppose him on Afghanistan include publisher Arianna Huffington, filmmaker Michael Moore and television commentator Keith Olbermann. Respected Salon.Com has been widely reporting what it says is Obama's back-tracking on his liberal agenda. Its commentary about his Afghanistan speech is headlined "Yes, it's Obama's war now".