MoveOn breaks ranks with Obama over Afghanistan

One of Obama's biggest networks of supporters have come out against the new Afghanistan strategy. More than half's members oppose the surge.

One of Obama’s biggest networks of supporters have come out against his announcement to send 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan. – the online advocacy organisation with a membership of 3.3 million – has sent an email to all members last night stating:

“While some support his decision to send more troops, a significant majority think escalating the war is wrong.”

Following Obama’s announcement on Tuesday evening, MoveOn polled a randomly selected sample of 50,000 of its members. Asked the question, “Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan”, the results showed that 56.2 per cent said they opposed, 16.1% supported, and 27.7% were not sure. MoveOn are now asking their membership to sign a petition asking Congress to push Obama “to outline firm benchmarks and a binding timeline to bring all of our troops home.” It is the first time that MoveOn have broken ranks with Obama since he was elected president.

Opponents of the British surge announced by Gordon Brown on Monday are making their voices heard. New Statesman senior editor Mehdi Hassan, wrote yesterday on Comment is Free:

“The truth is that the troop surge announced by Obama and Brown this week will make little difference to the situation on the ground … The US army’s own much-lauded counter-insurgency field manual, co-authored by Petraeus in 2006, emphasises the importance of ‘troop density’, or the ratio of security forces to inhabitants: ’20 counter-insurgents per 1,000 residents [or 1:50] is often considered the minimum troop density required for effective Coin operations’.

“In Afghanistan, with a population of roughly 28.4 million, the 1:50 ratio means the size of the US-led coalition force should be about 568,000 troops. But Obama’s plan to deploy 30,000 extra US soldiers and marines takes the total number of coalition troops to only 130,000.”

The Washington Post reports this morning that Pakistan has voiced “concerns” about Obama’s new plan. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry stressed the “need for clarity” and said it wanted to “ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan.”

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