Friday, January 30, 2009

NOT THIS TIME: Dear President Obama (The Nation- Feb. 09, 2009)

We congratulate you and wish you the very best of fortune in your great undertaking.

As writers, we admire your eloquence and your engagement with ideas. But we are worried because a new beginning will not be possible as long as we continue to spill the blood of the men, women, and children of Afghanistan. The Taliban is not a direct military threat to the United States nor are the people of Afghanistan.

There is no victory for those who attempt to occupy Afghanistan, as the Soviets and the British discovered. There will be no progress at home while such an all-consuming war is being waged. If we stay, the situaqtion will get worse, not better, and the troll in American lives and American prestige, as well as the damage to our standing in the Middle East and to the American budget will be staggering and tragic.

Wartime presidents accomplish little else. We urge you to negotiate with the Taliban, withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, and begin the moral and physical rebuilding of Afghanistan as well as that of the United States.
Among the 90 or so signers listed under the above letter in the Feb 09th issue:

Daniel Ellsberg - Graduating from Harvard in 1952 with a B.A. summa cum laude in Economics. Ellsberg spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander. From 1957-59 he was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard in 1962 with his thesis, Risk, Ambiguity and Decision. HIs research leading up to this dissertation is widely considered a landmark in the foundation of decision theory and behavioral economics.

In 1959, he became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines.

On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, he worked on the Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

Daniel’s book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers reached bestseller lists across the nation. It won the PEN Center USA Award for Creative Nonfiction, the American Book Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Prize for Non-Fiction, and was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

In December 2006, he won the 2006 Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden. He was acknowledged “for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to a movement to free the world from the risk of nuclear war.”

Since the end of the Vietnam War, Daniel has continued to be a leading voice of moral conscience, serving as a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing and the urgent need for patriotic whisteblowing.

See more at his website: here

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