Antiwar activists in Los Angeles oppose Afghanistan troop increase

16:47, December 02, 2009      

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Hours before President Barack Obama announced his decision Tuesday to send more troops to Afghanistan, activists from labor and antiwar organizations gathered in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles to oppose his war strategy.

"Money for jobs, not war," many protestors chanted.

John Parker, coordinator of the International Action Center, said that by sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, the U.S. would pay an additional 40 billion dollars a year, which should instead be spent to create more jobs for Americans.

Parker said the U.S. has already spent 600 billion dollars on the war against terror. But for many Americans, the most urgent problem is finding a job.

In addition to losing jobs and houses, Parker said, many Americans also are struggling for food. The 40 billion dollars spent on troops should instead be used to help those Americans, he said.

Parker said that what Americans need now is the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that former President Franklin Roosevelt created during the Great Depression. The WPA created over 8.5 million jobs for Americans through a variety of programs.

The official unemployment rate in California is 12.5 percent, Parker said, but the real jobless rate could be as high as 20 percent. The additional 40 billion dollars to be spent in Afghanistan would create millions of jobs at home, he said.

"People are hurting from lack of jobs and that hurt is not going to be helped by sending our loved ones to get killed in Afghanistan. People will begin healing when they are allowed their right to a job, one outside of the military," Parker said.

The Bail Out the People Movement will start a nationwide march and protest on April 10 to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the WPA program and ask the Obama Administration to set up similar programs to create jobs.

On Monday, representatives of 34 antiwar groups delivered an open letter to Obama, strongly opposing his anticipated decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

The document called increased war spending, in light of the ongoing U.S. economic crisis, an "utter folly" and called the war "a war against ordinary people, both here in the United States and in Afghanistan."

Source: Xinhua
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