Peace activists alarmed by prospect of surge - – Rockford’s News Leader

Peace activists alarmed by prospect of surge

Dr. Catherine Forslund Dr. Catherine Forslund
Stanley Campbell Stanley Campbell

By Bob Schaper

ROCKFORD (WREX) -- Local peace activists brace for a major new war effort in Afghanistan, and a Rockford College history professor discusses what President Obama's speech could mean for America.

Nobody knows what Obama will announce, but early leaks say more U.S. forces will head for the war zone. And that, almost everyone agrees, will have a major impact on American history.

"I think Afghanistan is a lost cause when it comes to trying to bring democracy to that country," says Stanley Campbell, a Vietnam vet and longtime peace activist. He says U.S. forces should only be used to find Osama bin Laden and his cronies.

"Is the job for us to build up that country and bring democracy or is it just to get the bad guys?" Campbell asks. "If it's just to get the bad guys, fine and dandy."

But early indications are Obama intends a much broader agenda, including training Afghan forces. Dr. Catherine Forslund, an assistant professor of history at Rockford College, says U.S. policy in Afghanistan went bad after the Soviet Union left the country in the 1980s, and American allies there expected support to rebuild. That never happened.

"And the United States left, and what broke out was essentially a civil war with almost everyone fighting everyone else and Taliban came out victorious in the end," she says.

Both Campbell and Forslund see similarities to a war long past.

"When I was in Vietnam it was always the military heads saying we can win and the troops on the ground knowing that we've lost the war," Campbell says.

"In some ways there's many parallels that can be drawn to the current war and the Vietnam war, the kind of morass quality of the situation we find ourselves in now," says Forslund.

But she also says U.S. credibility is now at stake, and so leaving abruptly isn't wise.

"People say well why are we there why should we be there? The answer is we've got business to wind up."

If you're interested in joining Campbell's peace vigil, it's at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at State Street and the Rock River.

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