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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I joined a delegation of Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers for a meeting with interested professors at a private university in Kabul on Wednesday.
After a presentation from our side, the professors each spoke in turn. Unlike some previous meetings, there were no real denunciations of the very idea of peace. But the first professor to speak, the ony woman in the group, explained how horrible the wars of the past 40 years had been, all of which she blamed -- reasonably enough -- on the United States. During the civil war, she said, nine groups divided up and fought over Kabul. Not a living thing could be seen in the streets. So, people welcomed the Taliban for security even if they had to give up schools. They were focused on living through the night. She wanted peace, but would simply not stand for any negotiating with the Taliban.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I've been fortunate to meet some very talented photographers and film-makers here in Afghanistan. We're planning an Afghan Film Festival for the United States this fall.
One film director Sahraa Karimi has produced an engaging and illuminating documentary called "Afghan Women Behind the Wheel." When she told me the title with a bit of an accent, I thought the last word was "Veil." It could almost as well have been. The film is about the limited rights and options of women in a country that is not just poor and war-ravaged, but in which many men passionately believe women to be inferior.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghanistan is full of wonderful people and could be a really terrific place to live. But first my government back home in the United States would have to stop murdering civilians over here.
I can't join in antiwar rallies over here, where I would be happy to speak against the crimes of my own government, because it's not considered safe for foreigners, especially Americans, to go near such scenes. Why? Well, imagine if this were happening in the United States and a citizen of the nation responsible were to come visiting:
A definite pattern has been established of killing civilians from the air and on the ground.
The United States has made clear its intention to continue and escalate this behavior.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- In honor of April 4, 1967, and April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out against war and when he was killed, I spent my first full day in Afghanistan on April 4, 2011, avoiding violence and discussing nonviolent activism with those practicing it here.
The previous night I had spoken with a number of foreign aid and development workers here in Kabul, all of whom were upset, both at Afghans who in recent days had killed workers like themselves and at a preacher in Florida whose burning of a Koran had enraged Taliban types from a safe distance. Attacks in multiple cities on April 1st and 2nd looked planned and coordinated. April 3rd saw a nonviolent protest in Jalalabad, where Badshah Khan, the great nonviolence leader of the past century, is buried.
DUBAI, UAE -- I was on my way to Afghanistan and have delayed the final leg of the trip a day to see whether being American is compatible with not getting blown up. The problem seems to be that, in addition to the U.S. military occupying the country for almost a decade and routinely murdering random innocent people, some bigoted jerk in Florida is creating a big stink about how much he hates Islam and enjoys burning copies of the Koran.
The Koran-burning preacher claims that he's just burned a book, not killed anyone. Of course, nothing excuses those who actually engage in killing, no matter what inspired their rage. But the preacher hasn't just burned a book. He's preached hatred. He's added deep insult to injury. The results were predictable, or at the very least are predictable now, while he shows no sign of relenting.
So President Obama has been quoted calling his war in Libya a turd sandwich, while Juan Cole calls it philanthropy, and Ed Schultz praises it as vengeance against this month's Adolph Hitler. The last time we bombed this particular Hitler we took out his daughter, among other people.
How is Schultz's spitting mad hatred as war justification squared with Cole's humanitarian generosity? The answer is easy. They prefer different condiments on their turd sandwiches. Which is why wars are always packaged in multiple and mutually contradictory propaganda campaigns.
From Black Agenda Radio
Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, at Champaign, says the U.S. is involved in an “all-out war” of “plunder and aggression” in Libya. “This is the first major outright power grab by the United States and the major colonial, imperial powers against Africa in the 21st century," says Boyle.
“Humanitarian” Bombing Bogus
David Swanson, peace activist and publisher of the we site “War Is A Crime,” says President Obama’s claims that “humanitarian” motivation is nonsense. “If there were an Obama doctrine that said: Where there is a humanitarian crisis, we’re going to go bomb people, we’d be bombing our own puppet dictators.”
Western Military Occupation Likely
“When the U.S. invades another country, which happens frequently, we generally leave U.S. military bases there,” says Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego. “The countries who are bombing Libya don’t really know who the opposition is,” says Cohn. “It could be al Qaida.”
Whose Interests Are Served?
Ali Ahmida, an historian of Libya and chairman of the political science department at the University of New England, is generally sympathetic to the rebels. But, he worries that the revolt could be “hijacked for other people’s agendas.”
Obama’s Haiti Policy is “Deeply Cynical”
Haiti’s recent presidential elections, which offered a choice of only two rightwing candidates and for which only about a quarter of the population turned out, will produce a government that has “absolutely no constitutional or popular credibility.” Brian Concannon, Jr., of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, calls President Obama’s claim that the U.S. is bringing democracy to Haiti is “deeply cynical.”
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.
President Obama on Monday said he would "never hesitate" to use the U.S. military "unilaterally" to defend "interests" and "values," including "maintaining the flow of commerce." Fear of exactly that led the founders of this republic to give Congress the exclusive power to declare war. James Madison did not believe any single individual could be trusted with such power:
"The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast, ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."
War Is A Lie on David Feldman Comedy Radio
David Swanson, author of War Is A Lie, talks about Libya. Along with Robert Smigel, Mark Thompson, Andy Caploe, Jackie Kashian, Chris Pina and Jane Edith Wilson.Written by Steve Rosenfield, Ben Zelevansky, Mark Thompson, Kevin Rooney, Robert Smigel and Andy Caploe. War Is A Lie can be purchased by going to WarIsALie.org
Lawrence Kaplan of TNR just explained why we have to bomb Libya
I'm about to be on to correct him
- Saturday, March 26th at 1pm (ET)
- Sunday, March 27th at 1am (ET)
2011 Virginia Festival of the Book Panel: "The Imperial Presidency"
Bruce Fein; David Swanson
About the Program
David Swanson, author of "War Is A Lie," and Bruce Fein, author of "American Empire Before the Fall," take a critical look at the U.S.'s role and actions around the world. This event was part of the 2011 Virginia Festival of the Book, held annually in Charlottesville, Virginia.
About the Authors
David Swanson is the co-founder of AfterDowningStreet..org and Washington director of Democrats.com. He is the author of "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." For more, visit: davidswanson.org.
Bruce Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and general counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan. He is the author of "Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy."
From Jason Linkins
QUESTIONER: "I have a great fear that say you're elected as the nominee of the party. Next August sometime during the summer, Dick Cheney and George are going to bomb Iran."
BIDEN: "Legitimate concern."
QUESTIONER: "What can you do about it?"
BIDEN: "I am not one, who if you've observed me for some time, I am not one who's engaged in excessive populist rhetoric. I'm not one that pits the rich against the poor. I'm not one who's gone out there and made false threats against presidents about, and god love him he's a great guy, I'm not Dennis Kucinich saying impeach everybody now. But let me tell you, I have written an extensive legal memorandum with the help of a group of legal scholars who are sort of a stable of people, the best-known constitutional scholars in America, because for 17 years I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
"I asked them to put together [for] me a draft, which I'm now literally riding between towns editing, that I want to make clear and submit to the Untied States Senate pointing out the president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran. And I want to make it clear, I want it on the record, and I want to make it clear, if he does, as chairman of the foreign relations committee and former chair of the judiciary committee, I will move to impeach him."
I may soon have an opportunity to meet with nonviolent activists in Afghanistan, an area of the world we falsely imagine has earned the name "graveyard of empires" purely through violent resistance. I was educated in the United States and learned in some detail about the lives of several morally repulsive halfwits who happened to have "served" in various U.S. wars, assaults, and genocides. But I was never even taught the name Badshah Khan. Were you?
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 1890-1988, was given the honorary title Badshah by the people of what was then the northwest frontier of India, much as his friend and ally further south, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was given the title Mahatma. Khan was a Pashtun, or Pathan, as are many members of the Taliban today.
Congress held an emergency meeting to defund NPR, and then did nothing as the President spent vastly more money on bombing Libya. President Obama didn't have to ask for the funding, because the Pentagon had enough lying around for just such an occasion.
A fundamental lie that keeps war going is the idea that we avoid war by preparing for it. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," said Theodore Roosevelt, who favored building a big military just in case, but of course not actually using it unless forced to.
This worked out excellently, with the few minor exceptions of Roosevelt's mobilization of forces to Panama in 1901, Colombia in 1902, Honduras in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1903, Syria in 1903, Abyssinia in 1903, Panama in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1904, Morocco in 1904, Panama in 1904, Korea in 1904, Cuba in 1906, Honduras in 1907, and the Philippines throughout Roosevelt's presidency.
This speech was given in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 20, 2011. Dahlia Wasfi and Dave Lindorff spoke as well and then the three speakers took questions together. (See additional videos.) The event was organized by June Eisley and sponsored by Pacem in Terris.
By Patrick Kennelly
Three years ago in Bamiyan, a western province of Afghanistan, a multiethnic group of university students gathered for a three month workshop on peacemaking. The group of young leaders met weekly ultimately concluding that peace is impossible in Afghanistan. Undeterred by their conclusion these young people asked: “What do we do to change this reality?”
In answering this question the students decided two critical issues needed to be addressed. First, how do you calm the enflamed ethnic tensions that plague the country? Second, how do you create a culture of peace in a society where the pursuit of peace is associated with wide scale violence and killing?
The university students realized that the decades of war and subsequent exodus of different ethnic groups fleeing conflict upset the power balance and ignited ethnic tensions. In order to tackle this issue the students brought together other students from the over twenty ethnic groups that comprise Afghanistan’s population. They divided into small groups to experiment with communal living. They hoped that by forming community they could restore some of the trust that has been destroyed by the conflict and help each other overcome their fear of others. This project lasted several weeks but then broke down into accusations and conflicts ending with death threats. The project was disbanded and some of the students left the region.
Speaking and singing on March 18, 2011, on need to protest war at the White House at noon on March 19 and at Quantico Marine Base where Bradley Manning is tortured at 2 pm on March 20.
Washington, D.C., Busboys and Poets Restaurant.
Video by Kevin Zeese.
Note: Great speeches by Elaine Brower, Chris Hedges, Eduardo Vargas, Michael Otterman, Andy Shallal, et alia, not picked up by video camera.
Usually "power couple" describes two plutocrats, but here is a young engaged (to be married) (and in the struggle for justice) couple with the power to move people against war, that leaves the audience asking them to speak in their schools. Wasfi is an Iraqi American who speaks of war from the point of view of its victims. Caputi is a US veteran of the current war on Iraq who describes the crimes he engaged in and the thinking that allows such acts, including what he describes as "reconnaissance by fire" (shooting up houses as a means of determining whether anyone is in them) and the ability of the human mind to rationalize killing people on behalf of the people being killed.
Random Row Bookstore
March 17, 2011
Video by David Swanson
The problem with bombing Libya is not hypocrisy. Better a good thing once than consistent bad performance, after all. The problem is that war is uncontrollable, usually spreads, always kills, rarely achieves its objective, creates blowback (al Qaeda wants the US in Libya for its recruitment purposes), costs a fortune, and maintains imperial interests.
While the US props up all the nearby dictators and arms them, including in Bahrain, and was doing the same for Gadaffi until about 5 mins ago, it's switched sides in Libya. This doesn't just look bad. It is bad: the US wants to control someone else's country.
When the Iraqi govt murders and tortures after years of US involvement, who cries out for the solution of US involvement? When the Afghan govt or Bahraini govt does so, what then? No fly zones were themselves genocidal in Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Saudi Arabia is helping out Bahrain, by the way. Nations joining in each other's violence or spreading around the weapons we've provided them is not good news.
There is not a well-intentioned world police force at work here, and the bad intentions will lead to very bad places and are not the only option. Other options include humanitarian aid, nonviolence training, and communicating to Libya the seriousness of US support for local rule and democracy by cutting off the dictators we're backing all over the region.
Bruce Fein and David Swanson spoke in Charlottesville VA on March 17, 2011, as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book in an event sponsored by the Rutherford Institute and hosted/moderated by John Whitehead. The event was also filmed by C-Span Book TV. This video was shot by Josh Whitehead.
Part 1: John Whitehead
Part 2: Bruce Fein
Part 3: David Swanson
Part 4: Questions and Answers
This is a repeat performance. The debut was on March 10, 2010. On that occasion 65 congress members voted to get out of Afghanistan. In January 54% of Americans had told CNN they "opposed" the war, but 59% supported escalating the war they "opposed."
This time around, 64% tell ABC/WaPo it's "not worth fighting," 73% want at least a "substantial withdrawal" but 53% believe the US government will not obey the will of the people. Bloomberg finds that 66% want complete withdrawal.
Should begin around 9:30 am ET.
They rearranged the schedule to defund NPR first (and perhaps to allow cowardly congress members to leave town before the war debate?).
Rep Dan Lungren ranting on the "Dept. of Defense" and NPR: "To suggest that NPR is in the Constitution in the way that um the uh subject of national defense is ... " Lungren seems to have actually noticed mid-breath that the Constitution does not create a standing military of any sort and is written with the clear understanding that a military would be raised when actually needed.
I have to be somewhere at 11:30. I hope they hurry up.
Congresswoman Slaughter, Congressman Jim McGovern, and other Democrats are suggesting cutting military spending, which is just a wee bit bigger than NPR funding. Logically they would vote to end the war if the vote is ever held. Remember, I said logically.
There's likely to be a debate on the war after this, then back to NPR, and both votes in the afternoon.
69% want NPR
66% do NOT want the war
What will Congress do?
Debate will begin at approx 10:40 a.m., Congressman Kucinich tells me.
11:00 a.m. debate underway with Ros-Lehtinen yelling about al Qaeda, despite its not being in Afghanistan, and despite its growing because of US presence in Afghanistan, and despite its ability to function in the rest of the world.
11:04 Kucinich introduces into record WaPo poll: 2/3 of Americans want out. Says $100 B/ year being spent.
11:10 a congressman reads a letter from a veteran (was it Elliott Adams?) opposing the war
11:13 Lynn Woolsey also citing polls. Why does she want a SOFA??? I want an end to the occupation!
I've got to run. Popular opinion. Yes. Financial Cost. Yes. But remember, this is about murdering human beings in large numbers, and Americans oppose that.
2:53 pm I'm back and it looks like the resolution passed on a voice vote, Ros-Lehtinen asked for a rollcall, and that was put off. So keep phoning Congress!
3:40 A total of 93 representatives voted YES. A majority is approx. 218. Here's who voted how.
Petraeus says we can win the wars we've got and add more, compares self to circus clown juggling plates
Rep Forbes (R, Va) asks what the point is. Michelle Flournoy says "AL QAEDA!" Nobody mentions that al Qaeda isn't in Afghanistan
Advantage of not holding hearings on Iraq, Rep. Forbes can slip claim of Iraq "success" into hearing on Vietghanistan
Having denounced the insane and endless wasting of lives and resources, Sanchez thanks Petraeus for his "service." WTF?
Sanchez points out total corruption of Afghan govt. Petraeus invites her to a psy-op.
Loretta Sanchez sounds like a human - very jarring in a Congressional hearing
Rep Sanchez says she's sick of hearing "we're making gains that are fragile and reversible - What does that really mean, General?"
Loretta Sanchez says we're wasting lives and resources. Asks what "success" is. Petraeus says an independent govt. Well then...
Audio from WDEL: Listen. This show is in Wilmington, DE, where I'll be on Sunday:
Sunday, March 20th
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Pennsylvania Ave. & North Rodney Street
Sponsored by Pacem in Terris
David Swanson & Dahlia Wasfi & Dave Lindorff
Dave Lindorff is a veteran investigative reporter, author of "The Case for Impeachment," founding editor of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening! and is a regular columnist at Counterpunch and Truthout. He will speak on "Afghanistan: NOT the 'Good War' -- A war without a reason or an end"
Dahlia Wasfi, an Iraqi American and leading peace advocate, will speak on "Iraq: The Forgotten Occupation."
David Swanson will discuss, sell, and sign copies of his new book "War Is A Lie"
"David Swanson’s War Is A Lie may be the most comprehensive antiwar statement available in the English language." — Kevin Young
"Not since General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket has a simpler, more brilliant, or truer book been published." — Geoffrey Millard
CONTACT: June Eisley peace4june at gmail dot com
Another flyer: Doc.
Miguel Sevener is publishing my book "War Is A Lie," one chapter at a time, in Spanish at http://mentirasdeguerra.wordpress.com
When he's finished I'll be able to sell copies of the book in Spanish from http://warisalie.org
And donations to provide the book to peace and counterrecruitment groups (which I encourage you to keep making at http://davidswanson.org/give ) will be able to provide the book in English and Spanish to groups that can use each version.
A giant GRACIAS to Miguel!
When I advocated the impeachment of George W. Bush, I did so despite, not because of, all the animosity it fueled among impeachment supporters. I didn't want retribution. I wanted to deter the continuation and repetition of Bush's crimes and abuses. Specifically, and by far most importantly -- and I said this thousands of times -- I wanted to deny all future presidents the powers Bush had grabbed. One-time abuses can be catastrophic, but establishing the power to repeat them can multiply the damage many fold, especially when one of the powers claimed is the power to create new powers.