Anti-war groups criticize Obama for sending troops to Afghanistan

Groups like Code Pink and Veterans for Peace said Tuesday that the troop escalation will only make withdrawal more difficult and timelines are impossible to predict. The groups spoke out hours before Obama’s address to the nation.

Administration officials said Tuesday that even though Obama has ordered more troops to the region, he will start bringing them home and transferring security responsibilities to the Afghans in July 2011.

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“That number's as good as picked from the air,” Mike Ferner, board president of Veterans for Peace, said of the July 2011 date.

White House officials stressed that Obama will not announce an end date for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and that time will depend on conditions on the ground.

Ferner, who noted that Obama’s timeframe for beginning that transfer is before he is up for reelection, said that history has proved timelines are unrealistic and Obama is guilty of “fanciful thinking.”

Ferner’s group has chapters in more than 100 cities, and he said they plan to engage in any number of peaceful protests Tuesday and Wednesday night after Obama announces his plans to the nation in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The group penned an open letter to Obama after reports started circulating about his planned strategy, calling the continued war in Afghanistan “utter folly.”

“We believe this decision represents a war against ordinary people, both here in the United States and in Afghanistan,” the letter said. “The war in Afghanistan, if continued, will result in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of U.S. troops, and untold thousands of Afghans.”

Gail Murphy, a spokeswoman for Code Pink, said the group’s members are “very disappointed” with Obama's decision, and they will continue to pressure Congress to deny Obama the funds he is likely to request to pay for the war.

“We don't think there is a military solution,” Murphy said.

Murphy, like Ferner, said she took no solace in the president’s plan to start withdrawing troops in less than two years, noting that the more troops that are there, the more difficult it will be for them to leave.

She noted that the group hasn’t “seen him make his promises yet” on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison or ending the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

MoveOn, the liberal group that launched in opposition to former President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, also came out in full force against Obama's strategy.

The group sent an email to its members urging them to call the White House Tuesday and make clear their opposition.

“After talking to MoveOn members about this possibility for months, it's become clear what most of us think: This is wrong,” the email said. “Everyone knows that George W. Bush left a mess in Afghanistan, but escalation only deepens our involvement in a quagmire.”

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore is also railing against Obama’s strategy, writing in a letter prior to the president's remarks that Obama's plan will “destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you.”

“With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics," Moore wrote. “You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.”