Resolution Adopted by the CCAR
War in Afghanistan
Adopted by the Board of Trustees
April 23, 2009
The Central Conference of American Rabbis has, on previous occasions, expressed its refusal to accept “the inevitability of war.” Even in a time of war, we hold out as an ideal Isaiah’s vision of swords beaten to ploughshares. And yet, we have also learned from Ecclesiastes that there is a “time for war.” Some wars are both justifiable and justified. We believe that the United States’ war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is such a war.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis last addressed the situation in Afghanistan directly in June, 2001. At that time, we decried the Taliban regime’s human rights abuses, addressing in particular their goal of eliminating women from public life, their persecution of the Shiite/Hazara minority, and the lack of religious freedom under the regime. We “[u]rge[d] the United States government to support international initiatives to end” these abuses, and urged our member rabbis “to educate their congregants and the public on the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan,” and “to voice their concern for the people of Afghanistan.”1
Shortly after that resolution of the Conference, Al Qaeda attacked America, killing thousands. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led the United States to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom was undertaken with the overwhelming support of both houses of Congress, and with broad-based international support as well. By January 2002, the Taliban were militarily defeated in much of the country, and an international force under the auspices of the United Nations was working to provide security in and around Kabul. Today that force, now under NATO auspices, includes approximately 62,000 troops from 41 countries, among them 32,000 American military personnel. Additionally, extensive humanitarian efforts are underway throughout the country.
And yet, Afghanistan remains unstable and unsafe. The Taliban have worked ceaselessly to destabilize the country since they reconstituted in 2003. Wherever they take control, human rights abuses abound, including intentional massacres of civilians. While there is agreement that the NATO force of 62,000 is not sufficient to defeat the resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda, increasing the size of that force has not been possible due to the war in Iraq, which has severely strained the capacity of the United States military.
Additionally, the situation is complicated by Pakistan for two reasons: along the border it shares with Afghanistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, the forbidding geography and a sympathetic population have created a haven for Al Qaeda, and the government of Pakistan has not, until now, been unambiguously committed to the effort to defeat those Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who have found a haven in Pakistan.
President Obama campaigned on a policy of redoubling America’s efforts to decisively defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region, and has committed his administration to that goal. Specifically, the Obama administration seeks:
Therefore, be it resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
1Resolution on Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Afghanistan, June 2001.
2“In Response to Terrorism and the Attacks of September 11,” November 7, 2001.