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Nader’s open letter to President Obama: Advice on Afghanistan

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has run for President of the US on the Green Party line, and most recently as an independent. The following open letter was posted at, and also sent as an e-mail announcement:

Advice on Afghanistan
November 18, 2009

Dear President Obama,

You are nearing the day of decision as to whether you order the dispatch of more soldiers to Afghanistan.

Some of your advisors have urged up to 50,000 more soldiers, including several thousand called trainers of the Afghan army.

Other advisors have urged more caution, notably the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and former general, Karl W. Eikenberry, who opposes more soldiers so long as the Afghan government remains grossly dysfunctional.

Beside your own military and civilian advisors, you are receiving disparate counsel from an anemic Congress and your allies abroad.

But are you soliciting advise from stateside civic groups of experience and repute that represent many Americans? Or from genuine experts on that country such as Ashraf Ghani—a former American professor and later respected member of the Karzai government before his departure to other positions in that country?

George W. Bush, in the duplicitous run-up to the invasion of Iraq, insulated himself, closed his mind and refused to meet with civic associations in his own land. Like an autocrat bent on plunging a country into war and occupation, knowingly on false pretenses, he deliberately deprived himself of the information that might have restrained his disastrous, messianic militarism. Disastrous, not to him and Dick Cheney, but to our country, soldiers, and economy, and to the devastated Iraqi people and their ravaged nation.

In the months before the March 20, 2003, undeclared criminal war of aggression that violated our Constitution, statutes, and treaties, a dozen organizations each formally requested a meeting with him.

These organizations represented tens of millions of Americans. They came from the clergy, labor, environmentalists, businesses, students, peace groups, womens’ groups, city councils, consumer, veteran, teachers groups, and international security experts. Many also came with first hand experience in Iraq and the Middle East.

They wanted to meet with their president. He never even answered their letters. The letters are available at

Who would have thought last year that on assuming the presidency, that you would consider plunging deeper in to this quagmire without an exit strategy? The deeper you plunge, the greater your rejection of the history of occupations fueling insurgencies in that region. The more you insulate yourself from contrary judgments to those you have been receiving from your inner councils. Our country, its people and innocent Afghan people will pay the price.

A recent resignation by Matthew P. Hoh, a former marine combat captain in Iraq and highly regarded foreign service officer in Afghanistan, provides an independent analysis of the grievances afflicting the 42 million Pashtuns. In his words:

The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified. In both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.

The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people. The Afghan government’s failings, particularly when weighed against the sacrifice of American lives and collars, appear legion and metastatic.

Mr. Hoh proceeds to list these persistent failings and adds his articulate doubts about the strategic purposes of your Administration’s military presence in Afghanistan. He ask, “Why and to what end?” His letter of conscience and protest concludes by noting the limitless effects on our foreign and military policy, and on our country and its economy.

Your staff estimates each U.S. soldier is costing $1 million a year, in addition to the horrific toll on these soldiers and the Afghan people. You owe the American people an un-Bush-like explanation. Why are you not receiving these groups of American from varied backgrounds and experience at the White House on this pending Afghan decision?

They may wonder, by contrast, why you have so many White House meetings with major corporate CEOs from Wall Street, from the health insurance companies and the drug companies. Is not the White House the peoples’ House? Along with many other citizens in our country, I look forward to your response.


Ralph Nader

The website also notes the following:

Letter to President Bush from Christian Religious Leaders Against the War in Iraq
Letter to President Bush from Environmental Organizations Against the War in Iraq
Letter to President Bush from University of Chicago Political Science Professors Against the War in Iraq
Letter to President Bush from Business Executives Against the War in Iraq
Letter to President Bush from Local Civil Officials Against the War in Iraq


  1. sunshinebatman sunshinebatman November 19, 2009

    He ain’t listening, Ralph. Barry the Brit and his old mujahideen buddy Bob Gates are going expand the war in Afghanistan and send more Americans to die. That’s always been the plan.

  2. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes November 19, 2009

    Once again a progressive begs a reactionary.

  3. sunshinebatman sunshinebatman November 19, 2009

    Who is reacting to what?

  4. Ghoststrider Ghoststrider November 19, 2009

    You mean future candidate for President of the United States, Ralph Nader.

  5. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes November 19, 2009

    Ghoststrider, you are back! Where have you been?

  6. reacting reacting November 19, 2009

    By your/wiki’s definition, Nader’s request for a return to the pre-Afghan invasion status quo pro ante is reactionary; Obama’s determination to keep progressing into the quagmire would make him into a progressive.

    No surprise there, since progressives are typically for state-sponsored mass murder and genocide.

  7. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes November 19, 2009

    reacting, you got it so twisted I can barely understand what you are talkingabout.

  8. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes November 19, 2009

    Nader did not request a return to pre- Afghan invasion status quo pro ante which I’m not even sure means before the U.S. invasion which would mean reinstating the reactionary Taliban. Even the U.S. reactionaries wouldn’t/couldn’t do that. Obama’s determination to keep progressing into the quagmire which is the dem/rep policy would make him a typical dem/rep reactionary, not a progressive.

  9. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson November 19, 2009

    May I suggest that each of us write the White House. Here’s the contact url and please be polite.

  10. Dave Schwab Dave Schwab November 19, 2009

    President Obama is poised to decide whether to send as many as 60,000 additional U.S. soldiers to the war in Afghanistan.

    Let’s urge Obama to live up to his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Tell him to withdraw troops from Afghanistan — not send more:

  11. Mike Wilson and Dave Schwab:

    “sunshinebatman // Nov 19, 2009

    He ain’t listening ….. Barry the Brit and his old mujahideen buddy Bob Gates are going expand the war in Afghanistan” in spite of the logical insanity of it all!

    ‘Ah will not send American Boys to fight in an Asian War’ …… LBJ, 1964

  12. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson November 19, 2009

    That may be true Don but if the group known as the third parties and their members took on the job of contacting the adminstration we just might change things. My letter will be going out tomorrow.

    Goundswells start somewhere!

  13. Effective ground swells start out side the system. LBJ’s biggest response was not to voters or even Democratic loyalists but via electoral threat Arid Zona Senator Barry Goldwater. [The average person just did not know at the time ……]

    The extensive Gerrymandering kills the voter intimidation function. My former Congress Member is serving time in federal stir! The district RE-ELECTED another, FAILED Republican [Brian Bilbray, whom I SUCCESSFULLY worked against in the late 1990s]

    My current local House Member is such a creep that it would take a felony to blast him out of the post. [Any one have any dirt on Bob (77% in 2008) Filner ????? With ‘friends’ like he and Puke (Viet Nam Ace) Cunningham, former military do not need any enemies ……….]

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