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Once again the future of Afghanistan is on the agenda. Ten years ago in Bonn, the issue was the deployment of NATO troops and the toppling of the Taliban. This time around, the summit on Monday is set to discuss the withdrawal of international forces by the end of 2014.
For German peace activists this is not fast enough. They are calling for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. To underscore their demand protesters took to the streets of the former West German capital on Saturday under the motto, "They talk peace, but wage war."
The gathering attracted peace groups, anti-globalization organizations, like Attac, the German Green Party and Left Party, and the German trade union, Verdi.
Doubts about the will to withdraw
Malalai Joya said she doubts the willingness to withdraw Demonstrators expressed their doubts whether the goal of the Afghanistan conference was really the end of the foreign troop deployment.
But even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked that some troops remain, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as recently as last Friday that German troops may stay beyond the planned exit date to help train local Afghan forces.
At the demonstration rally in downtown Bonn, Afghan politician Malalai Joya, however, described as a "lie" the announcement that NATO troops would leave the country by the end of 2014.
Joya called for the immediate withdrawal of international forces, saying the foreign armies were, among other things, working with warlords. Joya said the presence of foreign troops was actually making the democratization process more difficult.
In Joya's view, the international community should, instead, support the democratic forces in Afghanistan. "Please, strengthen my people by promoting education," she said in her speech. "Education is the key to strengthening emancipation," she added. Joya and other activists are hoping for a kind of "Arab Spring" in Afghanistan.
On December 5th more than 1000 delegates from 90 countries, including 65 foreign ministers, are expected in Bonn, Germany for the "Bonn II" or Petersberg II Conference to plan the future of Afghanistan after troop withdrawal in 2014. Yet parallel to Bonn II, the US is negotiating a US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement that will allow US troops, special forces units, and air power to remain in Afghanistan until 2024 and joint military bases beyond 2024 -- even though all of Afghanistan's neighboring countries are opposed to a long-term US military presence in the region. NATO members such as Germany have announced that they will also keep troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
We, the 99% on both sides of the Atlantic, also suffer from this seemingly endless war and occupation. 63% of the US people and more than 70% in Germany oppose the war in Afghanistan. In a time of economic hardship, the military costs of NATO’s Afghanistan intervention have already passed $1 trillion, with the US spending $525 billion, the EU $400 billion, and other ISAF partners $100 billion. Meanwhile, 14 million are unemployed in the US, yet the government has no adequarte jobs plan; instead, teachers are laid off, schools and libraries are closed, our infrastructure is crumbling, and nothing is done about looming environmental disaster,
The U.S. Senate bowed to popular sentiment and called for accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on November 30, passing the Merkely amendment to the 2012 Defense Authorization bill which requires the President to present a new withdrawal plan to Congress within 90 days.
Here in the US, UFPJ will join with the Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice in sponsoring a counter-summit conference in Chicago, May 18-19, 2012, when both NATO and the G8 will be meeting in Chicago. The counter-summit will call for complete withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan among other demands: http://www.inesglobal.com/NATO-call.phtml
The Bonn demonstrations are called by more than 170 German organizations and numerous individuals: http://www.afghanistanprotest.de/aufruf/liste-der-unterzeichnungen.html. They will be joined by Malalai Joya of Afghanistan, author Tariq Ali and MP Jeremy Corbyn of the UK, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire of Ireland, and Alyn Ware of New Zealand. Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, a founding member of UFPJ, will also address the Bonn rally.
We stand in solidarity with those protesting in Bonn this weekend and join with them to demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to the war in Afghanistan, withdrawal of all US-NATO troops and military facilities, and devotion of significant resources to help rebuild Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people.
- UFPJ Afghanistan Working Group, December 2, 2011
United for Peace & Justice
STOP THE WAR COALITION Newsletter No.1227 2 December 2011 Email email@example.com Tel: 020 7801 2768 Web: http://stopwar.org.uk Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition 1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN 2) NEARLY 400 DEAD... BRING THE TROOPS HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN 3) A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF STOP THE WAR TEN YEARS ON 4) NO TO INTERVENTION IN SYRIA *********** 1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN The western powers seem to be doing everything possible to increase tension with Iran. Yesterday EU ministers imposed new sanctions on top of those agreed
Last month, when dozens of Taliban fighters attacked U.S. Combat Outpost (or COP) Margah in Afghanistan’s remote Paktika province, on the Pakistani border, the defenders called for airstrikes.
As automatic weapons fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) struck the compound, Staff Sergeant Seth Pena, an Air Force forward air controller, guided in Navy F-18 Hornets, which were already flying in the area, to provide close air support. Then, using military call-sign slang, he radioed for a "Dude flight" of F-15 Eagles and a "Viper flight" of F-16 Fighting Falcons from Bagram Airfield.
"I requested the Dudes and Vipers because I needed a lot of ordnance and fast," Pena said, according to an Air Force press release. "RPGs had already hit inside the COP and things were getting serious. There was a large enemy force moving towards us from multiple positions and we were taking a heavy amount of small arms fire."
In the end, the Air Force jets alone dropped more than 9,000 pounds of bombs and the Americans claimed a body count of more than 70 guerrillas.
The Senate just voted against the Afghanistan war. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted by voice vote to pass an amendment that concludes thus:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—
1) the President of the United States should expedite the transition of the responsibility for military and security operations to the Government of Afghanistan;
2) the President shall devise a plan based on inputs from military commanders, the diplomatic missions in the region, and appropriate members of the cabinet, along with the consultation of Congress, for expediting the drawdown of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan and accelerating the transfer of security authority to Afghan authorities prior to December 2014; and
Council for a Livable World Welcomes Senate Vote In Favor of An Accelerated Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan
Washington, D.C. — Council for a Livable World applauded the Senate vote today in favor of the Merkley amendment asking the President to accelerate the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
The Senate approved the amendment by a voice vote in a surprising rebuke to those who want to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely – including Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
Clearly Senator McCain, who opposed the amendment, did not call for a roll call vote because he was not sure he could win.
17 Members Define Specific Goals for Dec. 5 Bonn International Conference
Washington D.C. (November 29, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and 16 of his colleagues wrote to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging leadership to secure a commitment from the international community to protect the people and natural resources of Afghanistan. These resources are worth an estimated $3 trillion, and if managed properly, could provide for a prosperous, stable Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
See the full letter here.
“The U.S. has an obligation and the opportunity to address this core issue which has profound implications for Afghanistan’s economic development, its social development and its stability at the upcoming December conference in Bonn. We urge you to secure a commitment from the international community and the Government of Afghanistan to the sound management of these critical resources over the medium and long term at this conference,” wrote Kucinich et al.
In the letter, Kucinich and colleagues call for a “clear, credible and transparent processes for the award of concessions that provide the Afghan people with information on how, to whom and on what grounds contracts are awarded.”
“A multinational agreement on language at the Bonn conference that incorporates the above elements would be a historic milestone for the people of Afghanistan. We look forward to working with you to ensure that, as we begin to bring the troops home, Afghanistan is on the path to a prosperous, peaceful and secure future.”
The letter was signed by Representatives Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Jr., Raul M. Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Michael M. Honda, Keith Ellison, Bob Filner, Fortney Pete Stark, Gwen Moore, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Howard L. Berman, Maurice D. Hinchey, John Lewis, Janice D. Schakowsky, Jared Polis, Danny K. Davis and James P. Moran.
By John Grant
The most little-understood fact of war, in my opinion, is the sheer, mind-boggling, nearly incomprehensible magnitude of the money which is spent on a daily basis to keep the occupation and boom-and-zoom operations going. Former General Barry McCaffrey put the "burn rate" of US taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan at $9 billion per month, which is fully one-half the average yearly state budget for the 50 states. Two months of this kind of spending is the entire Pell Grant appropriation for 2010.
More than one-third of that "burn rate" (and you have to hand it to McCaffrey for not caring how this sounds to the public, literally burning taxpayer money) is fuel costs, both aviation and ground. Time reports that:
Six Afghan Children Are Killed in NATO Airstrike
By New York Times
... “The plane chased them, the insurgents entered a street where children were playing and as a result of its shooting, seven people have been killed, including six children, and two girls also have been injured,” Mr. Ayoubi said. The victims were members of two families.
Abdul Samad, an uncle of four of the children who were killed, disputed the government’s version of the attack. He said his relatives were working in fields near their village when they were attacked without warning by an aircraft.
His brother-in-law, Mohammad Rahim, 50, had his two sons and three daughters with him. They were between 4 and 12 years old and all were killed, except an 8-year-old daughter, who was badly wounded, Mr. Samad said.
“There were no Taliban in the field, this is a baseless allegation that the Taliban were planting mines,” Mr. Samad said. “I have been to the scene and haven’t found a single bit of evidence of bombs or any other weapons. The Americans did a serious crime against innocent children, they will never ever be forgiven.”
American soldiers have destroyed numerous dwellings in Zhare to deny insurgents hiding places, and they have also built new roads across farmland because existing ones were so heavily mined. Residents were quickly compensated by the military, however, and in recent months the area, one of several districts near Kandahar city that were once Taliban strongholds, has been relatively quiet.
STOP THE WAR COALITION Newsletter No.1226 21 November 2011 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7801 2768 Web: http://stopwar.org.uk Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition 1) BREAK THE SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN 2) DON'T ATTACK IRAN 3) STOP THE WAR FUNDRAISING DINNER ************** 1) BREAK THE SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN There is a conspiracy of silence about the war in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the occupation is in growing trouble. Five British soldiers have died in the last ten days but their deaths have barely been reported. Britain and the
To be offered to National Defense Authorization Act
Co-sponsors as of Nov. 17
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Whereas, after al Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, the United States rightly sought to bring to justice those who attacked us, to eliminate al Qaeda’s safe havens and training camps in Afghanistan, and to remove the terrorist-allied Taliban government;
Whereas, the Afghanistan War is now the longest in American history;
By Kathy Kelly and Hakim - Adelaide, Australia
At Tabor House Technical College, 21 young people sit in a semicircle looking curiously at Hakim and me. We’ve been invited to speak with them about the practice of justice. Hakim, who has lived among Afghans for the past nine years, begins by describing how an Afghan youth, Zekerullah, would greet them. “Salam,” he says to all. With his hand over his heart, Hakim makes eye contact with each student, and then nods in silent greeting. I smile, having watched Zekerullah do just this, whenever he entered a room. The students are interested.
“You can’t listen only to leaders,” Hakim tells them. “We must put our ears close to the hearts of ordinary people and listen to them.” Hakim is often poetic, but he’s also a trained physician, prone toward assembling data and seeking careful diagnosis.
Rising early this morning, he prepared for today’s presentation by collecting statistics about government responses, in various parts of the world, to massive manifestations of public opinion. As expected, the short survey showed that leaders aren’t listening well to ordinary people, that ‘national interests’ routinely overrule the people’s interests:
The man on the left served with the Marines in Southern Afghanistan from 2001-2006. The man on the right is now a public school teacher who served with the Army from 1986-1989. (Photo: pfarnac1)
If the last decade was the era of occupations that everyone called liberations, then the 99 percent movement is seeking to make this the era of liberations everyone calls occupations.
"It's clear that the interests of the majority of people in this country do not align with the military-industrial complex who put corporate profiteering based on destruction ahead of the needs of people," said Alex Kane, a journalist and activist. "The nexus of power that Occupy is looking to challenge in this country does not stop at Wall Street. Military profiteering is an integral part of the system and it should be challenged."
The "liberation" of Afghanistan has yielded a corrupt government in Kabul, where Hamid Karzai, the former CIA-paid fundraiser for the Mujahideen, is positioning himself as chief lapdog for the Taliban and the ISI (the Pakistan intelligence agency), this alliance acting alongside American bombs to create, in the words of one member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, "no positive change." Well, no positive change for some. For others, like Karzai's wealthy friends, embezzling great chunks of the $70 billion worth of security assistance and development projects American taxpayers have spent in Afghanistan since the invasion has yielded quite a large chunk of positive change.
By Agence France-Presse
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington — The ringleader of a rogue US army unit responsible for “thrill kills” of Afghan civilians was sentenced to life behind bars.
But a five-person military panel said Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs — who was found guilty at the end of a week-long court martial — would be eligible for parole after serving at least 10 years.
Gibbs was found guilty of 15 counts in all, including three charges of premeditated murder for his role in three so-called “thrill kills” in southern Afghanistan between January and May last year.
The prosecution portrayed Gibbs as the ringleader of the rogue unit, which also harvested body parts from the victims as grisly war trophies.
The risk of suicide in military children nearly doubles during a parent's deployment. Daniel killed himself during his father's last tour. He was 12 years old.
He hung himself from the bunkbed he shared with his brother.
His mom, Tricia, is wondering how Daniel's brother will cope with his father's upcoming deployment.
So is another military spouse whose boy tried to kill himself during his dad's last tour - who also learned that her soldier will be deployed again in 2012.
Isolated incidents? Not if you're a military family member.
These two moms will join other military family members on November 17 in this nation's Capitol to present Homefront 911: Military Family Monologues. True stories about how 10 years of war is really coming home.
12:00 noon at the US Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium free & open to the public.
Feints and baby steps in the direction of eventually ending a massive crime are not enough. Hoping to meet a distant deadline for ending a war that cannot be justified for a single day is not enough. A new misunderstanding should not be piled on top of other fictional accomplishments (the closing of Guantanamo, the complete withdrawal from Iraq, universal health coverage, etc.). But if we don't understand that we are beginning to move things in the right direction many among us will lose heart and others will miscalculate.
This is what the Associated Press had to say on Thursday morning as we prepared to march on the White House and the Treasury to demand a serious effort from Obama in France to bring the G20 (and the Congress) to back a financial transaction tax, and as planning continued to protest the ever-less-popular Obama's expected authorization of a disastrous tar sands pipeline:
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Nov 2, 2011 (IPS) - U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) killed well over 1,500 civilians in night raids in less than 10 months in 2010 and early 2011, analysis of official statistics on the raids released by the U.S.-NATO command reveals.
That number would make U.S. night raids by far the largest cause of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. The report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on civilian casualties in 2010 had said the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by insurgents was the leading cause of civilian deaths, with 904.
Except for a relatively few women and children killed by accident, the civilians who died in the raids were all adult males who were counted as insurgents in press releases and official data released by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Nov. 2, 2011 - A new study suggests that defense hawks are crying crocodile tears over planned cuts to Pentagon spending.
Capitol Hill conservatives and Pentagon brass fighting cuts to defense spending have argued that the military is limping off the battlefield with decrepit hardware. It's quite the sob story: At a hearing last week, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chair of the House armed services committee, cut his remarks short to literally sob for "these young men that are going outside the wire over in Afghanistan, every day on patrol."
28 October, 2011 - A human rights group has filed a lawsuit against Lithuania for its role in a CIA rendition program which allegedly involved the illegal detention and torture of “high-value detainee” Abu Zubaydah.
Zubaydah, who was initially captured by American and Pakistani special services in a raid in Pakistan in 2002, spent some of his time in custody in a secret detention center in Lithuania, according to the Interights group. The European country allegedly collaborated with the CIA on its program of secret prisons, which allowed suspects to be incarcerated and tortured outside American territory.
Oct. 28: Rachel Maddow expresses exasperation that Paul Wolfowitz is still treated by the media as if he has credibility on foreign policy matters despite his infamous history of disastrously poor judgment.
Never More Proud to Be in a Courtroom
by Kathleen Kirwin
October 28, 2011
“AS THE FATHER OF A YOUNG SON, I WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE ON MARCH 19TH TO BE A VOICE FOR SHAHIDULLAH.” From the closing argument of Defendant Art Laffin in DC Superior Court.
By Gareth Porter and Shah Noori, IPS
October 21, 2011 - Ottawa: Hundreds of protestors have asked the Canadian authorities to arrest former US President George W Bush for war crimes after he reached a Surrey hotel on Thursday.
Bush and his predecessor Bill Clinton were among the keynote speakers attending the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. Human-rights groups, including Amnesty International were demanding the arrest of Bush.
Gail Davidson of the Lawyers against the War expressed outrage over the federal government for ignoring its responsibility in not arresting Bush.
By Kathy Kelly