Bishops Committee Backs 'Responsible Transition'

President Barack Obama's goal of a "responsible transition" in Afghanistan must serve as the "overall ethical framework for U.S. actions" there, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace told the national security adviser. In a letter dated Dec. 18 to retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., called for the development of "specific criteria" for troop withdrawal, as well as efforts to help the Afghanis "secure an adequate basis for future political and economic stability." He urged that "each course of action taken by the U.S." in Afghanistan be "weighed in light of the traditional moral principle of 'probability of success.' . . . In other words, will this action contribute to a 'responsible transition' and withdrawal as soon as appropriate and possible?" the bishop said. "Will it improve Afghan security and minimize loss of life? Will it provide an adequate foundation for long-term development?" Bishop Hubbard urged the Obama administration "to continually review the use of military force—whether and when force is necessary to protect the innocent and resist terrorism—to ensure that it is proportionate and discriminate, and to develop concrete criteria for when it is appropriate to end direct U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan." "The goal of a 'responsible transition' should be carefully defined and limited to permit a timely withdrawal," the bishop said. "But having initiated military action in Afghanistan, our nation must be committed to fostering good governance, respect for human rights and religious freedom, and economic and agricultural development long after direct military engagement ends."

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