For the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces within Afghanistan.

THE OCCUPATION of Afghanistan is entering its eighth year, and yet the situation for the U.S. is getting worse, not better. American casualties are rising. The Taliban is resurgent and newly confident about challenging both U.S. troops and government forces under the command of U.S.-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

At the same time, segments of the Afghan population that once expressed gratitude toward the U.S. for removing the Taliban from power and took a wait-and-see attitude toward the ongoing U.S. presence are growing increasingly angry.

The reasons are many. First and foremost, the U.S. has increasingly relied on air strikes to suppress the growing influence of the Taliban--to a jaw-dropping extent. U.S. fighters flew only 86 bombing raids in all of 2004; in 2007, the number of air strikes grew to nearly 3,000. The bombing continued to rise in 2008, with 600,000 pounds of bombs dropped on Afghanistan in June and July alone, almost equal to the amount dropped in all of 2006.

While the Taliban has carefully avoided causing harm to civilians in areas under its control and thus succeeded in winning some new bases of support, the U.S. has used its air superiority with a recklessness that undermined what little reserve of good will remained among the Afghan population.

When President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January, he has pledged to withdraw a battalion a month from Iraq--and begin a surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan. He has called for a renewed focus on a military victory in Afghanistan, as well as capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.

But to antiwar U.S. soldiers, Afghan civilians and even a growing portion of the Afghan elite, the consequences of a sharp increase in foreign troops in Afghanistan are predictable and dire--more civilian deaths, more soldiers in harm's way, and more damage to what little remains of Afghan society.

It's time for us to start talking about Afghanistan.

*Segments from Eric Ruder's Article:

1. The occupation of Afghanistan is an outrageous response to the events of 9/11.

2. Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Afghanistan.

3. Full reparations to the people of Afghanistan.

4. Full medical and psychological benefits for veteran soldiers.