Talking Points: Obama’s New Plan Too Little, Too Late

Below you will find some talking points to assist you when speaking to press, legislators, friends, and family about Obama’s new Afghanistan withdrawal plan.

A few things to remember…

Statistics can change minds, but only stories can change hearts. Commonly held beliefs about the war are often based on emotional reactions, not logic.  The most powerful tool you have is your own personal story – the facts are here to back you up.

We are more powerful together than alone. While it’s your individual story that changes hearts, showing that there is a movement of military families speaking out against the war can change the power structure.  Make sure to mention Military Families Speak Out whenever you speak to the press or legislators. Most of our members found us because they heard someone like you mention their membership in a local paper, at a rally, or online!

People care most about what impacts them directly (and remember, journalists and legislators are people too), so always try to make a local connection.  The National Priorities Project has a great new report out on “U.S. Jobs and Budget Crises” with reports for each individual state “provid[ing] current data to help you understand the depth of the problems confronting your state and community, and see the local impact of federal policies.”  Visit http://www.nationalpriorities.org/jobs-and-state-budget-crises to download your state report.  Also, make sure to check out National Priority Projects’ “Cost of War” database to find out how much money your community has spent on the wars and what that money could have paid for instead – http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

Talking points are not a script.  Try to put them in your own words so they sound natural.  If there’s something on here you’re not comfortable saying, don’t say it!

Main Points

In December of 2009, President Obama announced that he would begin bringing our troops home from Afghanistan in July of 2011.i Now as that deadline approaches, the President has reiterated his pledge for a “significant” reduction of U.S. combat forces. On Wednesday, Obama announced plans to bring home 10,000 troops by the end of 2011, followed by another 23,000 in 2012.ii While we applaud any service members returning home, this plan maintains 70,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan through 2014. 3 more years is unacceptable for a military community who have already suffered through 10 years of war, multiple deployments, deteriorating troop morale, and extremely high rates of suicide and Post Traumatic Stress.

Keeping America safe does not require 100,000 troops (or 70,000 troops) in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistaniii but scattered around the world. According to CIA Director Leon Panetta, there are less than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It did not take 100,000 troops to find Osama bin Laden and it does not take a military occupation of Afghanistan to protect us from terrorist threats.

The American public is overwhelmingly in favor of bringing our troops home now. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that 73% of the American people favor bringing our troops home beginning this summeriv and ending the war in Afghanistan. Americans overwhelmingly understand that U.S. soldiers have done their job and driven al Qaeda from Afghanistan. After 10 years, it is time for our troops to come home.

This weekend, US mayors joined the chorus calling on the federal government to end the wars, and redirect military spending to fund human needs at home.v

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have come out strongly in support of a “sizable and sustained” withdrawal of troops. Over 200 Representatives supported McGovern’s amendement and 27 Senators signed a letter to the President, asking for the troops to be brought home as soon as possible.vi

The financial and human costs of continuing the war are indefensible. With over 1,600 troops killed and tens of thousands more wounded, the human toll of the war continues to mount every day. And while Congress fights over every penny of domestic funding, it is time to admit that we can no longer afford over $100 billion a year – $2 billion each and every weekvii – in additional debt from the war.

Now is the time to end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, and make sure there are jobs and a functioning VA system for them to come home to.

Tell Your MFSO Story

Speak from your experience and your heart. Your personal stories of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted your family’s lives contain compelling reasons for bringing our troops home now. This is especially effective when you explicitly explain how your own experience parallels the situation of hundreds of thousands of others.

Try to always mention MFSO when you speak, write, or give interviews – it lets other military families who oppose these wars know that they are not alone and that there is an organization that can help us make our voices heard. We’re more powerful as a movement than we are alone.

If getting the support of other MFSO members has helped you, please tell those stories.

When representing MFSO, please focus your responses on our points of organizational agreement, and if asked about other political questions (especially regarding electoral choices), make clear that we are a nonpartisan organization with diverse views. You can give whatever opinions you want as an individual.

We all agree about:

  • Pulling our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.
  • Taking care of veterans when they get home.
  • Preventing future illegal and/or immoral wars

i http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

ii http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/22/president-obama-way-forward-afghanistan

iii Leon Panetta on ABC News “This Week” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/27/leon-panetta-there-may-be_n_627012.html

iv Washington Post-ABC News Poll, June 2-5, 2011

v http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/06/20-7

vi http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/27-senators-call-for-new-strategy-in-afghanistan/2011/06/15/AGMg0MWH_blog.html