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Peace Group Warns Obama to Reconsider His Plan for Afghanistan

Peace Group warns Obama to reconsider his plan for Afghanistan

Today President Obama announced his plan to send upwards of 20,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. Peace Action began organizing grassroots activists and lobbying against the escalation in late February.

What to Tell Congress - Updated - Concise Version

Longer version with more detail and advice: HERE.

 

Recommendations

For Meetings with Congress Members and Senators

During April 4-19, 2009, Recess

 

Adjust to your  communities’ priorities and to fit your representative and senators.  Make the case to them of the necessary trade-off in defunding war in order to fund human needs. Make alliances with activist groups wishing to pressure elected officials on domestic funding needs and workers’ rights.

 

I. PEACE

 

Oppose Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Pakistan

A bipartisan group of fourteen members of Congress recently wrote to the president asking him to reconsider his proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan.  Your representative and senators should send similar letters, and should include opposition to missile strikes or the introduction of troops into Pakistan.

 

Some Strategists Cast Doubt on Afghan War Rationale

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Mar 28 (IPS) - The argument for deeper U.S. military commitment to the Afghan War invoked by President Barack Obama in his first major policy statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday - that al Qaeda must be denied a safe haven in Afghanistan - has been not been subjected to public debate in Washington.

A few influential strategists here have been arguing, however, that this official rationale misstates the al Qaeda problem and ignores the serious risk that an escalating U.S. war poses to Pakistan.

Those strategists doubt that al Qaeda would seek to move into Afghanistan as long as they are ensconced in Pakistan and argue that escalating U.S. drone airstrikes or Special Operations raids on Taliban targets in Pakistan will actually strengthen radical jihadi groups in the country and weaken the Pakistani government’s ability to resist them.

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President
By Ray McGovern

I was wrong. I had been saying that it would be naïve to take too seriously presidential candidate Barack Obama’s rhetoric regarding the need to escalate the war in Afghanistan. I kept thinking to myself that when he got briefed on the history of Afghanistan and the oft proven ability of Afghan “militants” to drive out foreign invaders—from Alexander the Great, to the Persians, the Mongolians, Indians, British, Russians—he would be sure to understand why they call mountainous Afghanistan the “graveyard of empires.”

Obama to Bring More Mercenaries to Afghanistan -- Sound Familiar?

By Jim Hightower, Creators Syndicate, Alternet

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to war we go!

As President Barack Obama begins winding down the Bush war in Iraq, he is building up his own war farther east. We're told that it will be a new, expanded, extra-special American adventure in Afghanistan, involving a vigorous surge strategy to "stabilize" this perpetually unstable land.

Tonight, DC! Courage of Conscience Speaking Tour Combatants for Peace: Israel and Palestine

Courage of Conscience Speaking Tour Combatants for Peace: Israel and Palestine

WHEN: Friday March 27th 7:30-9:30 PM

WHERE: St. Columbia's Episcopal Church 4201 Albemarle St. NW DC 20016 - One block from the Tenleytown Metro.

Former Soldier, Former Fighter - Yaniv Reshef and Bassam Aramin.

Israeli Yaniv Rashef, whose home is range of Gaza missiles, was a soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army - and chose to fight no more.

Palestinian Bassam Aramin served seven years in jail for planning an attack against Israeli soldier - and chose no more violence. Just two years ago, Bassam lost his daughter to an Israeli soldier's rubber-coated bullet. Their movement, Combatants for Peace, numbers over 600 former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian fighters, working together without revenge to build justice, peace, and a playground in memory of Abir Aramin.

White House Won't Rule Out Troops for Pakistan War

By Noah Shachtman, WIRED

President Obama has just laid out his new war strategy. And he's made it clear that the fight is both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. So I asked Dennis McDonough, with the National Security Council: Does that mean U.S. ground forces in Pakistan? Or more drone attacks? "I'm not going to comment on the notions you laid out there," he answered, during a White House conference call with bloggers. But during a separate press conference, Bruce Reidel, who recently completed a strategy review of the region for the White House, offered some hints. READ THE REST.

Obama Narrows Afghan Goals - And Leaves Them Wide

A progressive Congressional staffer once told me: "The first rule of Congress is - if you have the opportunity to vote both ways on the same issue, do it."

In "narrowing" the goals for the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, President Obama appears to have obeyed the first rule of Congress. In his speech on Afghanistan, Obama had it both ways.

He asserted that "we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future" and that "we are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future."

Call for National Action for Peace in Afghanistan

http://unitedforpeace.org

Today, President Barack Obama announced his plans to send another 21,000 troops to Afghanistan: he is girding the nation for a long and costly military occupation there.

While he also made some good statements on increasing diplomacy and economic aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the emphasis is clearly on military operations. Predictably, the Pakistan and Afghan factions of the Taliban are already uniting to oppose our escalation of troops. As the spring fighting season approaches, only one thing is certain -- more death, destruction, and misery in a desperately poor country that has had little respite from war for decades.

Here in the U.S., Obama's escalation in Afghanistan and the continuing occupation of Iraq threaten our nation's urgent economic and domestic agenda. Now is the time for more diplomacy, not more war!

United For Peace and Justice calls for immediate action for peace in Afghanistan. Here are three things you can do:

"Benchmarks" Are Baaaaaaaaaaaaaack

If you thought you couldn't stand to hear any more chatter about "benchmarks" on Iraq, get ready for Afghanistan: The Revenge of the Benchmarks.

Yet More Troops to Afghanistan

By ANNE GEARAN and PAMELA HESS, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama plans to dispatch additional U.S. troops plus hundreds of civilian advisers in hopes of turning around a faltering war in Afghanistan and will recommend increasing aid to neighboring Pakistan so long as leaders there confront militancy, people familiar with the forthcoming plan said Thursday.

Obama plans to lay out his revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday. Several sources told The Associated Press it includes 20 recommendations for countering a persistent insurgency that spans the two countries' border.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not discuss specifics of the plan, but said Obama is beginning to discuss its findings with members of Congress and others. Obama's top military advisers briefed key lawmakers Thursday.

Afghanistan: The Four Questions

President Obama is expected to "announce" his "new" Afghanistan strategy Friday - the traditional Washington day for burying things. But there aren't likely to be many surprises. The Administration has been dribbling details out to the news media, and what has been foreshadowed includes: more troops, more civilians, narrower goals; a renewed concession, perhaps, that there is no military solution.

Floridians Gathering in Melbourne This Saturday to Say: "Hey, Obama, Yes, We Can! Troops Out of Afghanistan!"

When: Saturday, March 28, 2pm

Florida Mass March - Front Street Park to Melbourne City Hall

Join several hundreds from more than 10 cities, Miami to Atlanta, in demanding our government fund human needs instead of war and corporate greed. Bail out the people and the troops, not the banks. ("Hey, Obama, yes, we can. Troops out of Afghanistan.") In addition to sending a message to elected officials, our coming together for this mass march for peace will stir the consciousness of the broader public, educate the uninitiated, and cultivate a new bond between citizens, peace and justice activists and those from more than 60 local, statewide, and national groups.

These Colors Won’t Run... Afghanistan

By Norman Solomon

Is your representative speaking out against escalation of the Afghanistan war?

Last week, some members of Congress sent President Obama a letter that urged him to “reconsider” his order deploying 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Everyone in the House of Representatives had ample opportunity to sign onto the letter. Beginning in late February, it circulated on Capitol Hill for more than two weeks. The letter was the most organized congressional move so far to challenge escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

But the list of signers was awfully short.

* California: Bob Filner, Michael Honda
* Hawaii: Neil Abercrombie
* Kentucky: Ed Whitfield
* Maryland: Roscoe Bartlett
* Massachusetts: Jim McGovern
* Michigan: John Conyers
* North Carolina: Howard Coble, Walter Jones
* Ohio: Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich
* Tennessee: John Duncan

Military Hangs `Help Wanted' Sign in Afghanistan

Military hangs `Help Wanted' sign in Afghanistan
By Anne Flaherty | Google News

Complicating matters is that the armed guards hired in Afghanistan most likely won't be U.S. citizens. According to Gates, only nine out of the 3,847 security contractors in Afghanistan have U.S. passports. Some lawmakers worry that arming non-U.S. citizens to protect American bases or convoys poses a security risk in a country rife with corruption and on the defensive against the militant Taliban.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The military buildup in Afghanistan is stoking a surge of private security contractors despite a string of deadly shootings in Iraq in recent years that has called into question the government's ability to manage the guns for hire.

Where is the change?

By Tina Richards

As the mother of a Marine who served two tours in Iraq and who came home 80% disabled, he would call me and say, “Mom, I don't deserve to live anymore, I have a gun in mouth, I have to pull the trigger, I can't live with all the innocent women and children I've killed.” As the mother of a soldier, A son who sought help in the Army for his PTSD last month and the same week they said he was cured, he was arrested and put in a County jail for hitting his wife. My son, who in June will be deployed back to Iraq for his second tour, I say three more years is too long!!!

VA to Gather Data on Alleged Burn-Pit Victims

VA to gather data on alleged burn-pit victims
Shinseki won’t commit agency to performing medical tests
By Kelly Kennedy | Army Times

Kerry Baker, DAV’s assistant national legislative director, issued an update Tuesday in which he reported that about 182 veterans are in the database. Of those, 48 have developed lymphoma, leukemia or some other form of cancer. Another 55 reported pulmonary disorders, including asthma and asthma-like symptoms. Other reported conditions include multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea and heart problems. At least 16 veterans entered into the database have died, Baker said.

The Veterans Affairs Department is gathering data to monitor potential health problems in troops who say they were made ill by exposure to smoke from open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a letter to Congress.

Afghanistan Strategy: Lure Fighters Away From Taliban

Afghanistan Strategy: Lure Fighters Away From Taliban
A key element of Obama’s plan is to erode militants’ power by strengthening local leaders, who can in turn provide incentives for foot soldiers to stop fighting.
Julian E. Barnes | LA Times

The Obama administration’s plan to overhaul the Afghanistan war will include a reinvigorated effort to sap the strength and influence of Taliban leaders by luring away their foot soldiers, according to advisors involved in a painstaking strategy review.

The plan is based on the assumption that top leaders of extremist groups are unlikely to switch sides wholesale, or would be unreliable allies if they did. Instead, the revised military effort will focus on eroding the power of militant leaders by drawing away low-level fighters – most of whom signed up for financial reasons.

Key to the strategy, according to administration officials, will be strengthening village elders and other local leaders as part of an overall shift in emphasis away from the country’s central government.

DC: Afghanistan: A Road Map For Progress - Seeking Global Security - 1st in 6 Part Series 3/25/09, 2:30 PM

Afghanistan: A Road Map For Progress - Seeking Global Security | Press Release

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) - "77 Strong and Growing" - Open to New and Different Ideas - Hosts Series of Forums to Discuss Military, Political, Economic and Social Policy Options in Afghanistan

Jobless Rate at 11.2% for Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan

Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan
By Gregg Zoroya | USA TODAY

The economic downturn is hitting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans harder than other workers — one in nine are now out of work — and may be encouraging some troops to remain in the service, according to Labor Department records and military officials.

The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year. That's significantly higher than the corresponding 8.8% rate for non-veterans in the same age group, says Labor Department economist Jim Walker.

Army records show the service has hit 152% of its re-enlistment goal this year. "Obviously the economy plays a big role in people's decisions," says Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an Army spokesman.

Which Way Forward for Anti-War Forces?

Which way forward for anti-war forces?
By Fred Goldstein | Workers World

With Washington carrying out war, occupation and intervention on expanding fronts, the anti-war movement is more necessary than ever. It is needed by the workers and oppressed people abroad who are the direct targets of the Pentagon and also by the masses of people in the U.S. who will pay for these military operations and have to carry them out.

The anti-war struggle is developing in the midst of the most severe economic crisis in generations. This creates a new situation for the movement and raises two burning questions: what should be the character of the movement and what should be the relationship of the struggle against the war to the struggle against the economic crisis?

Six Years of Blood and Lies

Six Years of Blood and Lies

4:08 mins.

One Soldier's Tale of How War Drove Him Crazy

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet

"When it got really bad, I dumped 5 tons of sand into my basement to remind me of Afghanistan," Jim told me. "I would just spend the entire day down there in my sandbox, smoking marijuana and working on peace of mind. It made me realize that you can close as many doors as you want, but ghosts walk through walls."

Jim speaks with apparent ease about his war experiences and what they cost him. His stories are punctuated with vivid detail and bemused laughter, mostly at his own expense: How could he have been so naïve ... how could he have failed to see what was going on around him?

"We Shouldn't Have Gone in But Now We Can't Leave" Recycled for Afghanistan

The Great Game (Twenty First Century Version) - Electric Politics

Afghan farmer (crop from Soviet poster)It's not for nothing that Afghanistan has been called 'the graveyard of empire.' And the U.S. would be far, far better off had we never invaded. Now we're there, however, it's not quite so easy to get out, nor are the repercussions limited to Afghanistan — there's nuclear Pakistan to worry about, along with India, Iran, and the general neighborhood. An incredibly vexing situation. To get some thoughtful perspective I turned to Jonathan Landay, of McClatchy, who's been reporting regularly from that part of the world for over twenty years and has just gotten back from a month in country. It was a real pleasure to talk with Jonathan and his points are very well taken. Total runtime an hour and ten minutes. Let's hope for the best.

Listen

 

CPC Hosts Series of Forums to Discuss Military, Political, Economic and Social Policy Options in Afghanistan

Congressional Progressive Caucus
http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov
77 Strong and Growing: Open to New and Different Ideas

Afghanistan: A Road Map For Progress Seeking Global Security

Washington, DC—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and Rep. Lynn Woolsey have announced “Seeking Global Security”, an ongoing series of forums that will engage Members of Congress in discussions about foreign policy options that make sense in light of today’s global security challenges. With Afghanistan emerging as the first major test in the Obama Administration’s efforts to secure global stability, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has chosen to open with the comprehensive, six-part series “Afghanistan: A Road Map For Progress”. This series is non-partisan and will feature leading experts on the region who offer a diverse range of perspectives, both U.S. and international.

Key Afghan Insurgents Open Door to Talks

Key Afghan insurgents open door to talks | CS Monitor
The Haqqani network has agreed to discuss a peace proposal with government-backed mediators.

As the Obama administration ponders reaching out to moderate Afghan insurgents, Kabul has opened preliminary negotiations with the country's most dangerous rebel faction, the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.

The group is accused of masterminding some of the most brazen attacks here in recent years, and a deal with them will likely be key to ending the war.

"If the Haqqanis can be drawn into the negotiation process," says Kabul-based political analyst Waheed Muzjda, "it would be a serious sign that the insurgents are open to one day making a deal."

CNN Publishes List of 4,578 US & Coalition Deaths in Iraq

CNN Publishes List of 4,578 US & Coalition Deaths in Iraq

There have been 4,578 coalition deaths -- 4,261 Americans, two Australians, one Azerbaijani, 179 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, five Georgians, one Hungarian, 33 Italians, one Kazakh, one Korean, three Latvians, 22 Poles, three Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians -- in the war in Iraq as of March 19, 2009, according to a CNN count. The list below is the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country's governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 31,131 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon. View casualties in the war in Afghanistan and examine U.S. war casualties dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Obama's Moment is Passing Quickly

By Dave Lindorff

The actions of Obama's Chief Financial Adviser Larry Summers and his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in permitting the payment of $165 million in bonuses to AIG executives (Summers, according to the Wall Street Journal, actually pressed Sen. Chris Dodd, D-CT, to secretly remove a bar to the payment of such bonuses from the bailout bill) and storm of public outrage that has followed public disclosure of those payments, provides President Obama, whose administration is stumbling badly on many fronts, to turn things around and avoid political disaster.

He should promptly demand Geithner's and Summers' resignations, and should also fire the CEO of AIG, Edward Liddy (as 80% owner of AIG, the US has the power to do that anytime). It would also be a good idea at the same time to fire the CEOs of all the leading banks that are at this point surviving on government bailouts.

U.S. Civilians May Join Afghan Buildup

U.S. civilians may join Afghan buildup | UPI

Hundreds of U.S. civilians may be sent to Afghanistan in a program to support security, governance and local development, Obama administration officials said.

The new civilian diplomats and specialists from U.S. departments such as Agriculture and Justice, along with hundreds of "full-time, temporary" hires, would work at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

Other civilians would be assigned to U.S. "provincial reconstruction teams" and to other efforts "to build Afghan civilian capacity around the country," The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported.

The new civilian force would complement 17,000 new U.S. troops scheduled for deployment this year, bringing the total to about 55,000, administration and Pentagon officials said.

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