Afghanistan has been engaged with more than 30 years of war with thousands of civilians killed or injured since 2001.
It is under these conditions that children are at extreme risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.
The children of Afghanistan are growing up in one of the least developed countries in the world. Six percent of babies die at birth and 25 percent before their 5th birthday. Conflict and political violence force millions of children and their families to flee their homes and as a result displaced families spend years in situations of uncertainty and insecurity.
Girls face multiple gender discrimination from the earliest stages of their life and throughout childhood. 70 percent of school-age girls do not attend school. Ninety-four percent of births are not registered.
A child's basic right to life and development is seriously compromised for the children growing up amid the conflict in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of children continue to die as a result of attacks and air strikes by insurgent groups, international military and armed forces and the Afghan National Army (ANA). During 2009, the UN confirmed that a total of 346 children were killed, of which 131 were killed as a result of air strikes and 22 in night raid operations by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Not only do children die, they can also be recruited and used to fight in armed forces and groups.
Children, especially boys, continue to be sexual abused by armed forces and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict notes that little has been done to prevent and punish sexual violence.
Around 1.6 million children are left orphaned in Afghanistan mainly due to conflict, depriving these children of family life. The destroyed education infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, and, in the face of growing armed attacks to schools, demand for education needs to be bolstered.
A quarter of the world's refugees have come from Afghanistan during this or the preceding wars. Children's rights are compromised primarily by the psychological consequences of the war and violence and their health and nutritional status is a major cause of concern. Hunger, sickness, and deprivation are aggravated, as well as fundamentally caused by, the violence of the war. We need to recognise the children's rights violations in Afghanistan. We need to break the silence and recognise the injustice.
The violations of children's rights documented in this report will shock and outrage most people throughout the world. There are a lot of categories of abuse and a lot of statistics here, but the story they tell is a simple one.
Afghan children are suffering terribly. Afghan children are not a side issue, not collateral damage. The majority of the people in Afghanistan are children. After the first decade of the US-NATO occupation, Afghanistan has become the very worst place on earth to give birth to or raise a child.
Hunger, sickness, and deprivation are aggravated, as well as fundamentally caused by, the violence of the war. A quarter of the world's refugees have come from Afghanistan during this or the preceding wars. Refugee children and the children of refugees have been deprived of a home. But those back home tend to be worse off.
In too many cases, they are deprived of the right to life and development by death rained down from above or kicking in doors at night. In willful or accidental ignorance of the information reported here, commentators justify this war as being fought in the name of human rights by discussing only the sorts of rights that are a top concern to people who are not being bombed or shot or struggling to find food.
Ignorance is a key issue raised by this report. Not only do too many Afghan children lack education, but we lack any knowledge of too many Afghan children.
Ninety-four percent of births are not registered. Twenty-five percent of children born die before their fifth birthday.
There is not a tree-falling-in-the-woods-unheard philosophical enigma here. These children really do exist. They just don't enjoy it very much, and it doesn't last very long.
On August 6, 2011, numerous US media outlets reported "the deadliest day of the war" because 38 soldiers, including 30 U.S. troops, had been killed when their helicopter was shot down.
But compare that with the day of May 4, 2009, discussed in this report, on which 140 people, including 93 children, were killed in U.S. airstrikes. We are denying to each other through silence and misdirection every day that the children of Afghanistan exist. But their deaths are rising.
Their access to hospitals is diminishing. And we believe we are continuing to occupy their country, launch drone strikes, perform night raids, and disappear prisoners for their own good.
What if we're wrong? What if the world outside our little cocoon, the world that recognizes the rights of children, condemns our behavior? What if the option of ceasing to occupy Afghanistan only seems unavailable because, like Afghanistan's children, we refuse to look at it?
The Children of Afghanistan: an analysis of children's rights. Report by Lisa Davis Download...
Thursday morning, thousands of people moved into Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., site of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign's Resurrection city.
Can a movement of the 99% of us who are living off the plutocrats' crumbs pick up the cause of social justice?
Day 1 was largely speeches and music, but energized by the sense that something new is building. We went over to the Chamber of Commerce and shut that criminal operation down for a while, and as we marched through the streets, including K Street, cars honked not in complaint at the traffic jam but in support of what we were doing.
Everyone I talk to supports what we are doing. Everyone wants our corrupt government to represent people. Everyone wants the rich taxed, the wars ended, and the money moved from militarism to human needs.
And a few more people are beginning to realize that we're all having the same problems, and that we are much more numerous than those who are profiting from our impoverishment. The Romans didn't want slaves marked as slaves, because then they might recognize their numbers. This is that kind of moment.
But we're not here just to give speeches, sing songs, or carry posters through the streets. We're here to nonviolently shut down the operation of a government that will literally ruin the world if we don't stage an intervention.
Here are some constituencies that do not have their own congressional caucuses:
Homo Sapiens The Homeless The Foreclosed The Ill The Unclothed The Hungry The Traumatized The Wounded The Widowed The Violently Occupied The Unemployed The Oceans The Forests The Atmosphere Future Generations Children The Elderly
Lately, the phrase "public servants" has struck me as ironic, not because government officials fail to serve the public, but because much of the public serves them. The public is the servants. Activist groups and individuals devote themselves to bettering the fortunes of political parties or politicians, at the expense of pressuring government officials to represent public demands.
Nobody favors eliminating elections, and nobody favors eliminating activism. But there are those who cannot see how prioritizing money-marinated, gerrymandered, cable-news-controlled, unverifiable elections will reverse the train wreck in progress. And there are those who cannot see what it would mean to engage in activism that wasn't aimed at promoting electoral victories.
Remarks at Take Back the Dream conference, October 3, 2011.
Back around May or June a bunch of us announced plans for this coming Thursday, October 6th, to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., not for a march or a rally, and not for a day or a weekend, but to create a central space for an ongoing occupation from which we would engage in nonviolent resistance.
We were inspired by the Arab Spring and Wisconsin and working for a U.S. Autumn. Now of course we are also inspired by the Occupation of Wall Street. It's been wonderful to see more and more people and organizations compelled to join in that action, and to see militarism and plutocracy opposed together by a movement that refuses to be dumbed down into a sound bite.
Over 150 organizations are part of the planning for Freedom Plaza at October2011.org and all are encouraged to join. Wall Street's servants on K Street, in the Pentagon, and in our government may be feeling comfortably distant from Wall Street right about now. But I don't see any reason to support protests of the wealth that corrupts our government and not protests of the government corrupted by that wealth. Choosing to be corrupted is an active choice. Corruption is not something imposed on helpless victims.
We chose October 6th because the Afghanistan War was due to begin its second decade. Over 4,000 people have taken this pledge:
"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning ."
I hope you'll go and pledge the same at October2011.org
It has been three years now since a Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said the United States had repeated all of the Soviet Union's mistakes in Afghanistan and had moved on to new ones. Mistakes is a common euphemism for crimes and other words that we would be applying were ours the country violently occupied, were ours the bulk of the deaths and misery, were our doors being kicked in and our loved ones disappeared, were the missiles hitting our homes.
Every year, of course, as British Member of Parliament Rory Stewart recently pointed out, top western officials have claimed that whatever year it was would be the decisive one. And each year it has not been. This past week, the United Nations reported an increase in violence in Afghanistan of about 40 percent over last year. NATO deemed that story inappropriate and announced its own findings the very next day. It turns out that, if you believe violence isn't violence when it's committed by the United States and allies, then you can look at certain types of violence initiated purely by Afghans and identify a dramatic decrease of . . . wait for it . . . 2 percent.
But don't book that Afghan vacation just yet.
Migratory birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now. Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades. War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and so-called reconstruction profiteers seem to know their way out. But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., Nobel Peace Prize winners or otherwise, seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.
And why this inability to leave? Why stay? It's not to track down Osama bin Laden on the off chance he wasn't really given that proper Muslim sea burial. It's not to find the number 8 regional leader in al Qaeda, and certainly not to oppose the Taliban which feeds off the occupation. It may be for politics, but U.S. opinion polls could hardly scream "Get out!" more clearly. It is almost certainly for profits and pipelines and permanent bases. A U.S. executive, er excuse me "job creator," told NPR this summer that if the occupation of Afghanistan were scaled back he really hoped there could be a big occupation of Libya.
But there's apparently another reason why armed U.S. citizens and their foreign workers are still in Afghanistan, and it's not to keep us safe. The 2006 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, among other studies, made clear that these wars make us less safe, not more. Almost four years ago, at a conference in Washington, D.C., on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin listed ways to reduce the threat of terrorism. Afterwards, journalist Gareth Porter asked him whether ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have been on his list. “You’re right,” he answered. And then he added, “But we can’t do that.” “Why not,” Porter asked. “Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”
Since then, of course, a lot more people have died in vain.
This is what it comes to, and why nonviolent occupations of our own back in Der "Homeland" are required. Our government has gone insane. It is killing people purely because it has already killed people.
War was banned by the nations of the world in 1928 and an 85-1 vote in the U.S. Senate in 1929 following a decade of work by a peace movement that refused to give up. And now we accept war as the air we breathe. In 2008 we may not have voted in "four more years," but we did get four more wars: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, with routine murders of particular human beings and those standing too close to them now openly inclusive of U.S. citizens.
To a growing extent, we see through this just as we see through austerity, environmental destruction, corporate welfare, and political corruption. But merely waiting for another money-soaked, gerrymandered, cable-tv-controlled election on unverifiable voting machines is not going to be sufficient. We're not against elections. This is not either-or. We're not against elections: we're demanding reforms that would allow us to have meaningful elections. But redirecting OccupyWallStreet energy into elections, as was done to Wisconsin, would be an act of betrayal.
Super Congress Member John Kerry's home state is fifth in the nation in military spending, employing lots of registered voters building machines of death for Raytheon, the former head of which company was brought in by the Obama administration as Deputy Secretary of Defense and who told the Washington Times in June, "The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before."
Super Congress Co-Chair Patty Murray, Democrat from Boeing, since 2007 has taken $276,000 from war industries, Max Baucus $139,000, Dave Camp $130,000, John Kerry $73,000, and so on. The President who must sign or veto whatever comes out of the Super Congress and the Less Than Super Congress took over $1 million from war industries just in the 2008 election, not to mention $39 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. Targeting our social safety net is a goal that Wall Street and the military industrial complex have shared for many years. And of course the general corporate exploitation of foreign resources and workers depends on the threat of military force. Military spending has increased at the President's request each year since 2008 as well as since 2001.
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, a conversation has been launched about the damage the wealthiest one percent is doing to the rest of us. California just pulled out of a mortgage fraud settlement deal that is expected to let the crooks off easy. Who's to say Occupy Wall Street didn't influence that decision.
The Super Congressional crusade to slash spending can only be carried through without causing massive misery and death in one of two ways, neither of which the U.S. Congress or President wants to touch, but both of which are central demands of the Occupation movement. The first is to significantly raise taxes on the super wealthy. The second is to significantly cut spending on the military. A progressive demand right now is not "Jobs Not Cuts" but "Jobs Not Wars."
Seventy members of Congress have pointed out that ending the two biggest current wars in fiscal year 2012 would save $1.8 trillion over the following decade, above planned savings from promised reductions in troops. But war spending is pocket change in comparison with the overall military and security budget. Economists have studied the impact on job creation of various types of government spending. It turns out that we could have full employment in the United States purely by redirecting a fraction of the Pentagon's budget. We could create 29 million jobs above and beyond reemployment for workers displaced in a conversion, just by moving funds from the Pentagon into education, healthcare, clean energy, and tax cuts. This calculation, if not my ideal plan, would leave military spending in several departments including Homeland Security untouched and leave the Department of So Called Defense more money than it had 10 years ago.
Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But he's discussing cuts to dreamed of future budgets. The current budget would still increase under those so-called cuts. But imagine really taking $35 billion from a budget of well over a trillion. (According to Chris Hellman of National Priorities Project, the security budget is $1.2 trillion, including the spy agencies and various other departments.) That would be a cut of less than 3.5 percent.
China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion. And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because. Now we're at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"? Is the danger here to us or to the profits of the weapons makers who are also demanding that any cuts made be made to troops' benefits rather than to weaponry?
“Every gun that's made," said Dwight David Eisenhower, "every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." It also signifies death and injury to those on the receiving end, almost all of whom are non-Americans. But we cannot have a movement in this country demanding funding for anything decent or humane without having a movement to restrain the machine that is sucking down over 63 percent of discretionary spending (including care of veterans but not including Homeland Security or interest payments on war debt), serving as our biggest polluter of the natural environment, and providing the leading justification for eroding our civil liberties.
These are the demands we will bring to Freedom Plaza beginning Thursday: • Tax the rich and corporations • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending • Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages • Get money out of politics
There's a widespread belief that such a list of demands must be reduced to one bumper sticker. But is what I just read really too many words for people who pass 10,000-word laws meant to govern us? There are 100s of times as many words as in this list of demands in the instruction booklet for a blueray player, something your average American seems able to handle. Nobody insisted that Thomas Jefferson reduce the Declaration of Independence to an eight-second sound bite. We aren't going to win this by getting pithier, and let me let you in on a little secret: Corporate television doesn't dislike resistance to corporate power because its advocates are unskilled at framing and messaging. We aren't going to win this by kicking ourselves. We aren't going to win this by dividing ourselves: we need to be willing to stand in uncomfortably large coalitions, side by side with people who like different parties or candidates or who hold what we think are bizarre views of the world. In Freedom Plaza there will be no promotion of any party or any candidate. We will be speaking as we the people to them our government.
And we will have a lot more fun than can be had sitting home and griping or even engaging in all variety of other useful activities, from phone calling to emailing to tweeting to sitting in conferences listening to me. I mean way more fun, the kind of fun in solidarity with others that medical science says is good for our health, the kind of fun that can take young people buried in student debt and joblessness away from enormous signing bonuses offered by the war machine. Young people will be reached in Freedom Plaza through seminars, libraries, outdoor films, and the experience of democratic decision making and risk taking. And the price is right. Compared with $259 per night here in the Hilton, the accommodations in Freedom Plaza will be priceless.
"Power concedes nothing without a demand," said Frederick Douglass. "It never did and it never will."
Videos by Lionel Heredia freedommediafilm at gmail dot com
I sat down during a lengthy protest occupation to play a game of chess, but my friend was better than I am. So, halfway through the match, I said to him, "What's your one move?"
He didn't know what I meant. "What's your one winning move," I said, "and which piece are you going to use? Get all the other pieces off the board. If you can't win with one piece in one move, you'll never win!" My voice was getting louder as I said this.
He was looking at me like I was a little bit nuts. "Sure I will," he said very slowly as if I were an idiot, "and you won't even see it coming."
I tried to reason with him. It was for his own good. "What's your one simple move? What's your one simple move? What's your one simple move?" I was practically screaming, but he still didn't understand, so I did the only thing I could. I jumped on the chess board with both feet. If he couldn't be simple, I could at least stop him from being complicated!
In a recent debate Congressman Ron Paul claimed the United States military had troops in 130 countries. The St. Petersburg Times looked into whether such an outrage could actually be true and was obliged to report that the number was actually 148 countries. However, if you watch NFL football games, you hear the announcers thank members of the U.S. military for watching from 177 countries. The proud public claim is worse than the scandalous claim or the "investigative" report. What gives?
Remarks at Lynchburg College on September 26, 2011
I'd like to thank Dave Freier for inviting me, and all of you for being here.I think I was invited to speak about my most recent book, War Is A Lie, but I asked Professor Freier if it would be all right to speak about my next book, not yet finished, and he agreed.So, the following is a relatively very short summary of a forthcoming book that is not yet finished, and which I need your help with.It would be very helpful to me if you let me know when I've finished these opening remarks what was unclear, what didn't make sense, or what didn't persuade you, as well as what -- if anything -- seemed useful or inspiring.
It would also help me a lot if you would raise your hands to show your views on a few questions.First, raise your hand if you believe that war is illegal.I don't mean particular atrocities or particular types of wars, but war.And I don't mean bad or regrettable, but illegal.If you're not sure or think it's not a good question don't raise your hand.OK, thank you.Now, raise your hand if you think war should be illegal.OK, thank you.And now raise your hand if you know what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is.All right, that was very helpful.Now, let me tell you a little story, or at least a few pieces of it.
In 1927 and 1928 a hot-tempered Republican from Minnesota named Frank, who privately cursed pacifists, managed to persuade nearly every country on earth to ban war.He had been moved to do so, against his will, by a global demand for peace and a U.S. partnership with France created through illegal diplomacy by peace activists.The driving force in achieving this historic breakthrough was a remarkably unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement with its strongest support in the Midwest; its strongest leaders professors, lawyers, and university presidents; its voices in Washington, D.C., those of Republican senators from Idaho and Kansas; its views welcomed and promoted by newspapers, churches, and women's groups all over the country; and its determination unaltered by a decade of defeats and divisions.
The MIC50.org conference was so packed with speakers that a lot of wonderful things just couldn't fit. We turned away dozens of great speakers and other opportunities. Our cup runneth over.
We also had an artist donate two beautiful original paintings for us to auction off as a set together, and we never managed to hold the auction. So, the auction will be happening online between now and October 3rd. Submit your bids, and the highest bid will be regularly posted on this page.
Click for larger image: These are two original paintings created for the MIC50.org conference by Ted Millich. The two characters are Chinese, separately 'harmony' and 'balance,' together they mean 'peace.' Harmony, with the enclosed loop on the right, usually goes to the left or above the character that looks more like a big cross. The notations inside the characters also signify peace in a variety of ways.
The paintings are about 15" high.
Your donation will fund further work for peace, including the publication of the forthcoming MIC50.org book.
"How many PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] staff members does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to hire a contractor who fails to complete the job and two to write the press release in the dark."
A FOB is a Forward Operating Base, and the Fobbits who live in them have their own brand of sad SNAFU humor, enough to fill many volumes and constituting, in my opinion, the silver lining of our wars. The above bit is taken from Peter Van Buren's new book "We Meant Well." The author has been in the U.S. Foreign Service for 23 years, working in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the U.K., Hong Kong, and -- from 2009 to 2010 -- in Iraq. The book is about Iraq.
Wednesday evening, when the news was mistakenly announced that Troy Davis would not be killed, the crowd that I was with erupted with joy and with the enthusiastic realization that we all were capable of believing that something good had been done by our government. I was at the dedication of the Howard Zinn room in the new Busboys and Poets restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Some of us had been assigned to read selections from the late Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States." I was asked to read John Brown's courtroom speech in which he said, "Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit: so let it be done!"
And we heard all of them from two dozen brilliant speakers during a three-day conference this past weekend. If you missed it, the video is all online. So is the text of many of the papers presented. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite:
So, here we are 50 years and 8 months tomorrow from the day on which President Dwight Eisenhower, on his way out of office, warned: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." I don't think we're here to propose Eisenhower or anyone else as a perfect model of all virtues. But what he said that day 50 years ago, in a very flawed and imperfect speech, was one of the most prescient predictions and potentially valuable warnings ever offered on the face of this earth. I say potentially because we have yet to heed it.
We will be nonviolently shutting down buildings and offices and hallways and streets. – David Swanson
Oct. 6 marks the end of the first decade of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the beginning of a nonviolent action that may make D.C.’s Freedom Plaza feel a bit like Egypt’s Tahrir Square. “Thousands and thousands of people have pledged to be there, and not for one day,” said author and activist David Swanson, who is helping organize the event as part of October 2011.
As he stood outside the White House on Sept. 3, the final day of the two-week mass civil disobedience against the Keystone XL pipeline, Swanson discussed the upcoming action, which will see protesters camping out day and night at Freedom Plaza.
We’ll make the same persuasive arguments that we always make about the agenda that everybody has: taxing the wealthy, ending the wars, cutting the military, saving the environment, creating jobs. But we’ll do so with actions that take inspiration from the Arab Spring and countries around the world where people try to interfere with what their government is doing, not just speak to it. We will be nonviolently shutting down buildings and offices and hallways and streets.
While the action has been organized by individuals, there are more than 100 organizations supporting it. October 2011 lists “Fifteen Core Issues the Country Must Face,” including: corporatism; wars and militarism; worker rights and jobs; criminal justice and prisons; healthcare; education and housing.
Swanson noted a paradox plaguing the U.S. political process: Americans are quick to criticize their government, but reluctant to take constructive steps to make it better.
[There are] millions of Americans who are able to say: “The system is broken.” “The government is not working for us.” “The government is completely corrupted.” But [then they also say], “How dare you shut it down?” Somehow, too many Americans think that’s an approach you take toward evil, non-American governments, [but not] the American government [which] is sacred, even though it’s “completely broken” and “corrupt” and “working for Wall Street” and “screwing us all.”
Somehow, if we can get over that hump of loyalty to the government, of loyalty to a party, and have people say, “We are the sovereigns of this nation [and] it’s We The People in whose name the Constitution was written,” then we’ll have a movement. It won’t accomplish everything this year, but it will be started.
Ladies and gentlemen, citizens and guests, welcome. Recent polls show that two out of three Americans think that our government is going in the wrong direction. Many of us feel confused and conflicted, not knowing what or who to believe. Surrounded by a fog of deceit we long for some beacon of clarity. We feel the storms of war thundering before us, blowing away our rights with the gale winds of fear, and burning down the edifice of our morality with the lightening fires of hate. Yet this human tragedy is as old as war itself; but fought now with weapons newly spawned in the laboratories of devastation.
America must come to realize that the fog of lies and the storms of war are our own creation - our creation of our own destruction. And they have a history. They have a direction. They have a conclusion. To find the clarity to guide us in a different direction we recall the past so as not to repeat its deadly conclusion. We evoke the past to foresee the future; ever mindful that it is we who choose the direction and bring it into being and nurture it.
Tonight we evoke three leaders who have shaped our history.
I've admired David Swanson for a number of years. He's one of the most active progressive activists I know — indeed, both astonishingly productive and absolutely on message. Since he gets out and about all the time, and I don't, it was a real treat to hear his sense of where things stand politically, and his advice regarding what people should be doing. (Think getting arrested.) Thanks, David!! Total runtime thirty six minutes. Āctum est dē rēpūblicā.
Here's a way to make this work within a Democratic Primary or in the general election of 2012.
Nobody can just announce that they are running in the general election as a candidate of the people, of peace, of justice, of decency, because all the corporate media would want to talk about was Spoilerdom.
And running instead in only non-swing-states, or asking voters in swing states to swap their votes with people in non-swing-states, would lead to only that same conversation about Spoilers and the mechanics of theatrical electioneering.
If I told you I would support women's rights as long as I didn't have to oppose rape, you’d think I needed lessons in both logic and basic human decency. If I said I would favor freedom as long as I didn't have to be against slavery, you might start backing away slowly.
Yet on September 1st, in a statement that's anything but out of the ordinary, the Daily Progress reported Charlottesville School Board Member Ned Michie's objection to a resolution in support of events celebrating the International Day of Peace:
"I'm all in favor of peace and non-violence," Michie said, "but, for instance… to the extent that any of the events are really sort of anti-war events, I'm not necessarily comfortable with supporting that."
It's a funny thing about peace and war: you really do have to choose between them. They don't mix any better than freedom and slavery. You can't favor peace without opposing war. In fact, you can't support peace without opposing the machinery that makes wars likely. And that machinery is all over Charlottesville, where it provides many local residents with jobs.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, like Jeanette Rankin before her, bravely stood alone in Congress against a vote for war, the vote in 2001 for the so-called Authorization to Use Military Force, a Constitutionally dubious passing of the war decision buck to President Bush and his successors. A majority of Americans now believes that the Afghanistan War that followed that authorization never should have been begun and should, in fact, be ended. So, the Congresswoman, along with initial cosponsors Jones, Woolsey, Grijalva, Conyers, and Honda, is offering us a second chance, a chance to get our response to 9-11 right, to restore war powers to the Congress, and to impose the will of the people on that body.
Congresswoman Lee has sent her colleagues this letter, which we should each send them ourselves by email, fax, phone, carrier pigeon, and by nailing it to their cathedral doors:
"Please join me as an original cosponsor of the 'Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act of 2011.' This legislation repeals the joint resolution providing overly-broad authorization to the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those involved in attacking our nation and to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.
"This broad authorization of force has had far-reaching implications which shake the very foundations of our great nation and democracy. It has been used to justify warrantless surveillance and wiretapping activities, indefinite detention practices that fly in the face of our constitutional values, extrajudicial targeted-killing operations, and an ever-growing and indefinite pursuit of an ill-defined enemy abroad.
"We must repeal this authorization for use of military force, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and re-focus our energy and efforts into those actions which truly improve our national security, including developing emerging economies and diplomatic efforts. Please join me as an original cosponsor of this legislation to remove this overly-broad blank check for war anytime, anywhere.
The legislation itself is shorter than the above letter, powerful in its simplicity, approaching in fact the populist wisdom of the long-forgotten Kellogg-Briand Pact, and offering far more than a technical readjustment within a government rotten to its core. At the risk of revitalizing the utterly discredited and poisonous notions of hope and change, I would suggest that this bill offers the nearest possible approximation of the time-altering repeal, not of a law, but of the past decade of collective insanity and self-righteous mass-murder. Read this carefully:
To repeal Public Law 107–40. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Ms. LEE of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______ A BILL To repeal Public Law 107–40. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force’’.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDING. Congress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PUBLIC LAW 107–40. Effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.
The AUMF is to be repealed here for two reasons: because Congress is Constitutionally bound to decide matters of war and cannot legally hand off that responsibility to its executive, and because Congresswoman Lee's tearful predictions when she stood alone against this madness a decade ago, and was subsequently obliged to hire security protection, have been proved right; the Authorization has been used and abused to an ever greater extent as an aggrandizement of executive power and a justification for the erosion of our civil liberties. This proposal comes on the heels of a successful public push by RootsAction.org, the ACLU, and others to strip out of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act language that would have radically expanded, rather than repealed, the 2001 AUMF.
Of course, the sponsorship of this proposal by a handful of Congress Members, any number of them capable of losing their spine at the command of their parties' leaders, does not suggest the likelihood of quick passage. But it does give a somewhat floundering peace movement a point around which to rally, educate, organize, and pressure. Rather than joining Congressional progressives in lobbying the 12-member Super Congress, even for top priorities like ending the wars and moving the money to human needs, rather than focusing purely on appealing to an all-powerful president to end particular wars (important as that is), we have an opportunity here to shift the country away from both the idea of presidential war making and the idea, recognized now even by the Washington Post, of war without end, war as normality, with peace having become the state of affairs requiring particular justification.
As popular movements begin to bring nonviolent resistance to Washington, D.C., including this October ( http://october2011.org ) perhaps one appropriate measure would be the shutting down of the congressional offices of each member who has not yet joined the good Congresswoman from Oakland on this bill -- a step I'm sure she would never recommend to us and which it is not her role to recommend to us, but a step which morality requires of us as clearly as the blood of our innocent victims is crying out from continents day after day.
STOP THE WAR COALITION
6 September 2011
Tel: 020 7801 2768
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) 9/11 ANNIVERSARY: STATEMENT BY STOP THE WAR COALITION
2) TONY BENN: WHY I'LL BE IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE ON 8 OCTOBER
3) LIBYA, NATO AND THE ARAB SPRING: PUBLIC MEETING
4) BREAKING THE SILENCE AGAINST 10 YEARS OF WAR
5) LONDON ACTIVISTS MEETING: 8 SEPTEMBER
6) EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON AUSTERITY AND CUTS: 1 OCTOBER
Did you know that redirecting a fraction of our military spending to education, green energy, healthcare, and tax cuts would create a job for every unemployed or underemployed person in the country (including those losing war industry jobs during this conversion)? It's true.
Did you know we're fighting drone wars that create enemies by killing innocents, in large part because the CIA created a bureaucracy for drone wars and wants to use it? Now you do.
We've got a choice to make between the military industrial complex and our future. Experts from around the country will help us make it at this conference: http://MIC50.org
Why Register Now:
1. Only if you register ahead of time can you get food at the conference.
2. Only if you register ahead can you pay a discounted rate.
Everyone should pay only what they can afford, even if it's nothing! But you need to register!
3. Only if you register ahead can we best plan the conference and let you know how to get involved.
Here's a simple proposal. I'm sure it's too much to ask for, but I'm asking anyway. Let's set aside a single month, say the month of April, following each federal election, and for that single month behave like the citizens and elected officials of a normal representative republic.
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