General John F. Campbell on Coping with Skyrocketing Military Appropriations

February 17, 2016

In testimony earlier this month in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. commander of the U.S.-NATO's war in Afghanistan proposed funding the war 5 years at a time instead of annually.

When announcing the proposal Campbell stressed that the change would be part of an overall strategy for increasing U.S.-NATO military capabilities in Afghanistan even if forced to temporarily withdraw some U.S. troops.

Speaking about promises to reduce troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 by January 1, 2017, Campbell said, “I believe the right thing to do is to prepare to go to 5,500 as I am ordered, but at the same time to take a look at conditions on the ground, look at capabilities – not the number – and to provide those adjustments to my military leadership, and then make those adjustments to capabilities. If we don't have the capabilities, or if the assumptions that we made for the 5,500 plan don't come out true, then of course, we have to make those adjustments.”

The military “disadvantages” of a temporary and partial drawdown of U.S. troops would be minimized by virtue of the longer-term perspective afforded by only having to seek new appropriations twice a decade. Thus, NATO would have the “ability to plan, to resource,” according to Campbell. Additionally, “It sends a message to Pakistan, it sends a message to the Taliban, and it sends a message to NATO.”

As in Iraq, the alternate increase and decrease of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, along with greater reliance on private military contractors, has been part of the 21st century re-colonization process that was renewed from the very first moments of Obama's presidency.

Over the last 7 years, Obama's war program, with the full support of the U.S. congress, has put the country on a permanent war footing and used this to push the entire reactionary agenda of the capitalist class down the people's throats – to attack democratic rights and civil liberties, to further slash social investments while militarizing the economy, to subject the entire society to unrestrained militarist and chauvinist propaganda.

To oppose the capitalist program, the people need to build up the broadest possible front against war and imperialism.

We must oppose each and every aggressive step taken by U.S. imperialism. We must wholeheartedly support the just liberation movements of the oppressed peoples and support the just stands of governments which defend the sovereignty of countries and the rights of the people. We must demand a genuinely democratic foreign policy which puts an end to all U.S. military intervention and aggression, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad, and ends the militarization of economic and social life.

Just as the U.S. government is intent on pursuing its “international war against terrorism” for decades to come, so too, the American people must politicize themselves and work out their own agenda and tactics for advancing the movement in opposition to the capitalist war program.