The ten-member medical team killed in Afghanistan last month included a German, a Briton and six Americans who brought their varied skills in health care and in regional languages to remote parts of the poverty-stricken country. Several of the volunteers had spent years in such perilous missions.
Unmanned drones have become the weapon of choice in the Obama administration, which launched more drone attacks in nine months than the Bush administration did in three years. When it comes to attacking al-Qaeda, said CIA director Leon Panetta, drones are “the only game in town.”
Matthew Hoh is a former Marine Corps captain who has served with the U.S. Department of State in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last fall he resigned his post in Afghanistan, declaring in his resignation letter: “I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan.
Germany’s senior Protestant bishop, Margot Kässmann, who has criticized her nation’s military strategy in Afghanistan since giving a New Year sermon in which she said that weapons were “clearly not creating peace” there, has recently drawn support from a Catholic archbishop.
In early December, as President Obama was announcing that he was sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Greg Mortenson was releasing his book Stones into Schools, a followup to his 2006 best-seller Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson has logged more months in remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan than almost any other Westerner.
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.