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Protests as Gates, Clinton defend Afghan plan

business Updated: Dec 02, 2009 19:46 IST

Calling for more jobs, not US troops, in Afghanistan, three peaceful protesters urged US President Barack Obama's top national security advisers to reconsider his planned "surge."

"You do realize this is a misadventure," Medea Benjamin, a demonstrator with the "Code Pink" anti-war movement, said as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, prepared for a congressional hearing on the strategy.

"Hillary, you know better," she called to Clinton.

Benjamin wore a pink poncho emblazoned with "Surge: Big Mistake" on the front and "No Afghan War" on the back and tried to get Mullen's attention as he chatted with aides behind a security cordon.

"Mike! That's a peaceful name!" one of her fellow protesters called out, briefly catching Mullen's eye. "We can't afford this escalation or this war."

"The Afghans don't need more troops, they need more economic development, jobs," said Benjamin, warning of "an endless cycle of violence" if Obama proceeds with plans to send 30,000 more US troops to the strife-torn country.

Two of the protesters held signs with Obama's portrait next to "hopeless escalation."

Just before the hearing began, the demonstrators chatted amiably with security, at one point being corrected on Mullen's first name by a grinning aide in a suit who blocked their path.