Activist and author Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners magazine, noted sadly that 17,000 people had signed a petition to the White House in late November asking President Obama to lead a different kind of “surge” in Afghanistan that relied more on diplomacy and humanitarian assistance than on military escalation.
“We were promised fundamental change in the direction of U.S. policy around the world, and this isn’t it,” Wallis said in a statement after hearing the president’s speech December 1 that called for a troop increase of about 30,000 and set July 2011 as a target date for the start of military withdrawal.
The new top executive for the United Church of Christ, Geoffrey A. Black, had a similar reaction to Obama’s nationally televised speech to West Point cadets. Black also expressed concern for U.S. military families, saying in a statement that the escalation “asks far too much of our already strained military forces at this time.”