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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.



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

Congressional Progressive Caucus
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.

Tomgram: Pratap Chatterjee, Unknown Afghanistan

Tomgram: Pratap Chatterjee, Unknown Afghanistan |

The signals coming from the Obama administration as a "strategic review" of Afghan policy is nearing completion this week are, to say the least, confusing. While much new thinking on the Afghan War has been promised, early leaks about the review's proposals for the next "three to five years" largely seem to promise more of the same: a heightened CIA-run drone war in the Pakistani borderlands, more U.S. military and economic aid for Pakistan (and more strong-arming of the Pakistanis to support U.S. policy in the region), more training of and an expansion of the Afghan army, and of course more U.S. forces -- the president has already ordered 17,000 extra troops into the war.

Iraq Veterans Against the War Commence “OPERATION NOT CHANGE”

Iraq Veterans Against the War Commence “OPERATION NOT CHANGE” | Press Release

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans begin a tower-guard vigil across from the White House. The towers will be manned 24 hours a day March 19th
to March 21st, Saturday. (All are welcome to come speak to the vets on post and ask questions about their deployments.)

WHEN: 10:00 A.M. Thursday, March 19th

WHERE: Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets, North of the Washington Monument

WHY: To protest President Obama's deceptions about his foreign policy and mark the sixth year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Now and for the Long Run

Now and for the Long Run
By Sen. Fritz Hollings, Former South Carolina Senator | Huffington Post

The United States has always paid for its wars. For 200 years we paid for the Revolution, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, even LBJ's Great Society, and had yet to reach a national debt of $1 trillion -- until 1982. Now our government in the past eight years has borrowed, spent, and added to the national debt $5 trillion.

The Congressional Budget Office reported that in the first four years of the Bush term, deficits were caused by: 48% tax cuts, 37% wars, and 15% increased spending. We kept the government on steroids during the Bush years and household debt of $7 trillion joined the binge.

Who's Calling the Shots Now: The Death of American Empire

By Dave Lindorff

It may not be obvious today, and certainly it’s not how the corporate media reported it, but future historians are likely to look back at March 13, 2009 as the day that American imperialism began it’s inexorable decline. That’s the day that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that his country was “worried” about its holdings of over $1 trillion in US treasury securities, and warned that he wanted the US to assure China that it would maintain its good credit and “honor its promises” and “maintain the safety of China’s assets.”

There is no way that the US can accommodate Premier Wen and still finance and operate a global military system with over 1000 overseas bases, massive aircraft carrier battle groups, and with hundreds of thousands of men and women armed to the teeth with the latest high-tech military hardware, not to mention fight endless wars on the far side of the globe.

Poll: More view Afghan war as 'mistake'

WASHINGTON — American support for the war in Afghanistan has ebbed to a new low, as attacks on U.S. troops and their allies have hit record levels and commanders are pleading for reinforcements, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

In the poll taken Saturday and Sunday, 42% of respondents said the United States made "a mistake" in sending military forces to Afghanistan, up from 30% in February. That's the highest mark since the poll first asked the question in November 2001 when the U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks.

In January 2002, 6% of respondents called the war "a mistake."

Those who said the war is going well dropped to 38% in the latest poll, the lowest percentage since that question was asked in September 2006.

Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, concerned about deteriorating security there, has asked for 30,000 additional U.S. troops. President Obama is sending 17,000 troops, but he has ordered a thorough review of the strategy before deciding to send any more. There are about 38,000 U.S. troops there now.

Attacks with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) killed 32 coalition troops in the first two months of 2009, triple the number for the same period in 2008. Last year, there were 3,276 IED attacks, a 45% increase over 2007, and a record for the war. Insurgents killed four U.S. troops Sunday in Afghanistan with a roadside bomb.

John Nagl, a retired Army officer and president of the Center for a New American Security, said pessimism about Afghanistan stems from seven years of fighting and security trends continuing to point downward. Nagl said he agrees with McKiernan's strategy of using additional U.S. troops to improve security for the Afghan people, support their government and build their economy. Stabilizing neighboring Pakistan is also essential, he said.

Students and Youth Demand End to the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan on the 6th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

Press Conference with Student Organizers to Announce Actions for March 19th
Date: Wednesday March 18, 2009
Time: 11:00 am
Place: Meet at the Reflecting Pool in front of the U.S. Capitol, 3rd Street, Washington, D.C.

As the winds of change begin to rumble in DC, students and youth are still demanding an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. March 19th is the 6-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the 1-month anniversary of the start of Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Our Spring Break are student run and initiated organizations that are fighting to end these occupations, refuse to let their peers continue to be cannon fodder for illegal occupations and will bring their message of a just foreign policy to the streets.


By Sherwood Ross

As commander-in-chief of the military, former President George W. Bush was responsible for U.S. attacks on hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mistreatment of their personnel and patients, and the denial of medical supplies to them and to the general populations of those nations, an authority on war crimes says.

One of the most egregious of the Bush war crimes, the force-feeding of prisoners, is being continued by the Obama administration even though it is in violation of medical ethics and the first Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, the authority notes.

In a new book that compiles the war crimes committed by U.S. forces, “George W. Bush, War Criminal?”(Praeger), political scientist/author Michael Haas writes:

Plan to Split Taliban Lures Obama Deeper into War

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Mar 16 (IPS) - Advanced reports on the Barack Obama administration’s strategy to "peel off" a majority of insurgent commanders from the "hard core" of Taliban suggest that it will be presented as a political route to victory in Afghanistan that would not require U.S. and NATO troops to win militarily.

But experts warn that the strategy is unlikely to work. And by appearing to provide a political route to victory, the strategy is luring the administration into a renewed commitment to war in Afghanistan and diverting it away from a deal with the Taliban leadership aimed at keeping al Qaeda from having a presence there.

Omar Gives Signal, Afghan War Could Soon Be Over, Please Forward Jobs Solution to Congress

Direct link to pdf/Powerpoint presentation on Afghan Jobs Solution:

By Ralph Lopez and Najim Dost. Dost is an Afghan citizen and recent graduate of the Kennedy School of Government.

In perhaps the most significant breakthrough since the overthrow of the Taliban, Taliban Chief Mullah Omar has given his approval for talks aimed ending the war in Afghanistan. A mediator for Saudi-sponsored peace negotiations, Abdullah Anas, said "A big, big step has happened. For the first time, there is a language of . . . peace on both sides."

The brother of the Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has been attending talks on his behalf said,
"I have been meeting with Taliban for the last five days and I can tell you Obama's words have created enormous optimism. There is no other way left but talks. All sides know that more fighting is not the way."

Obama Afghan Plan Focuses on Pakistan Aid and Appeal to Militants

Obama Afghan Plan Focuses on Pakistan Aid and Appeal to Militants
By Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker | NYTimes

The emerging outlines of President Obama’s plan for Afghanistan include proposals to shift more American efforts toward problems in neighboring Pakistan and to seek some kind of political reconciliation with the vast majority of insurgents in the region, according to administration officials.

The plan reflects in part a conclusion within the administration that most of the insurgent foot soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are “reconcilable” and can be pried away from the hard-core organizations of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. At least 70 percent of the insurgents, and possibly more, can be encouraged to lay down their arms with the proper incentives, administration officials have said.

Gen. Petraeus: No Iraq-style Surge in Afghanistan

Gen. Petraeus: No Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan
By Pat Eaton-Robb | Washington Post

The commander of the U.S. Central Command said Friday that an Iraq-style surge cannot be a solution to the problems in Afghanistan.

Gen. David Petraeus, speaking before about 800 people at an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council, acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan has been spiraling downward and is likely to get worse before it gets better.

In a speech that also touched on issues ranging from the nuclear threat in Iraq to pirates off Somalia, Petraeus said more resources are needed in Afghanistan, both military and especially civil to help build a stable government there.

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