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A Cure for War – With Limitations.

A Cure for War – With Limitations.

by Erin Niemela

 

Earlier this week I wrote an editorial proposing a 28th constitutional amendment to abolish war.  The NSA scandal, I argue, is tied to the more pervasive problem of violent foreign (and domestic) policy, and we’ll continue to see government abuses so long as war and inter-state military violence are the acceptable choices for conflict management.  David Swanson, author of the brilliant history, “When the World Outlawed War,” thoughtfully responded to my plea by urging us to recall and reignite the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an existing international pact renouncing war signed and ratified by the US president and Senate.

 

 I agree with Mr. Swanson that any efforts to end war should point to existing law, and we agree that abolishing war is possible and necessary.  However, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is not without its limitations, and a fresh, people-driven constitutional amendment could both address those limitations and offer current, culturally relevant and legally dispositive reinforcement.

 

Talk Nation Radio: Rick Rowley Tells How He Made the Film "Dirty Wars"

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rick-rowley

Richard Rowley, director of the new film Dirty Wars, describes its making and the crimes it reveals.  Over the course of fifteen years, Rowley, co-founder of Big Noise Films, has made multiple award-winning documentary features including Fourth World War and This Is What Democracy Looks Like. His shorts and news reports are also regularly featured on and commissioned by leading outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CBC, CNN International, Democracy Now!, and PBS. Rowley is a co-founder of the Independent Media Center. Rowley has been a Pulitzer Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow, a Jerome Foundation Fellow, and a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow.  For more on Dirty Wars see http://DirtyWars.org

To sign a petition to free the Yemeni journalist imprisoned at President Obama's instruction, as discussed in this program, go here.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Pentagon Has No Idea What 108,000 Contractors Are Doing

The number of contractors working in Afghanistan now vastly outnumbers American troops stationed there, according to a Congressional Research Service report. CRS, along with the Government Accountability Office, also determined that the Pentagon is unable to properly document the work these contractors are doing. And the information DOD is receiving is often unreliable and inaccurate.

According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier.

Given the size of the private forces, it’s not surprising that CRS found that in recent years, the Defense Department spent more than any other agency to support contractor work.

READ THE REST HERE.

War and Rape go Hand in Hand

By John Grant


Watching the US Senate Armed Forces Committee wrestle with the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the military opens a whole range of related issues concerning sex and war that will likely not be addressed in the Senate.

"I’ve Been Put in Prison for Opposing the War in Afghanistan"

The following is an excerpt from Soldier Box: Why I Won't Return to the War on Terror [3]Reprinted with permission of Verso Press, Brooklyn, NY.

It’s December. I’ve been put in prison for opposing the war in Afghanistan. Lots of other people disagree with it, lots of people think it is variously a stupid or illegal or unjustified or doomed war. The problem is that I am not supposed to say these things because I am a soldier; and yet I keep saying them.

Remand is when you are held in prison awaiting trial. Sometimes it is for those considered a flight risk and at other times it is for those not yet tried and convicted but considered too dangerous to be out in the world – I belong to the latter category. What I have said damages the ‘war effort’ and I have said it with that intention. Remand is purgatory. They tell us it’s not a prison, but we can’t go out. We ’re held in a centre for corrections. I find irony in that idea and in the idea that the individuals who’ve sent me here actually believe it is me who needs adjustment. The Military Correctional Training Centre (MCTC) claims to improve soldiers or discharge them as good citizens. To me it’s a funny idea – funny ha-ha, and funny strange.

READ THE REST AT ALTERNET.

Afghans demand arrest of US troops over killings

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Hundreds of Afghans blocked a major highway south of Kabul on Tuesday, carrying freshly dug-up bodies they claimed were victims of torture by U.S. special forces and demanding the Americans be arrested, officials said.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition said the claims are false.

Wardok nightmares

A few members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers and the author visiting with several people living at a refugee camp in Afghanistan. (WNV/Jake Donaldson)

A few members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers and the author visiting with several people living in a refugee camp in Afghanistan. (WNV/Hakim)

On a peace delegation to Afghanistan to visit the Afghan Peace Volunteers, I found myself one dusty afternoon in early May in Kabul sitting across the room from three men from Wardok Province, one of Afghanistan’s most intense areas of fighting. The men came to share their stories.

Two of the men — Abdul Samát and Hayatullah — were perhaps in their 50s or 60s, and were dressed in traditional Afghan garb. The third man — Roohulah — was younger and wearing a white shirt and sport coat. After introductions, the men decided that Roohulah should be the first person to speak.

“I have so many things to say to you,” he started. “So many stories. I don’t know where to begin.” He was choked up already, eyes red and swollen, and I could almost see the lump in his throat. “My own sister was killed in the war. But that is not what angered me the most. I am most angry about losing my cousin. He had a wife and two small children, and now that he is gone, they have no one to care for them.”

Roohulah then told the story of how his cousin and a good friend were visiting family members one snowy evening when they heard the ominous, familiar sound of an American helicopter landing nearby. Frightened, the cousin and a friend decided to run home to be with their families. But when they neared their village, they realized that the Americans were there already, so the two men decided to continue onto the next village, where they would stay until the raid was finished.

READ THE REST AT WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.

Forget droning on about changed policies: President Obama will have to Prove He’s a Changed Man

By Dave Lindorff


Some on the left are writing hopefully these days that perhaps President Obama has finally realized he needs to back off on his warlike posture on drones and the War on Terror. They are seeing his talk about scaling back the use of drone killing machines and of reconsidering or “investigating” recent Justice Department attacks on the press and its use of leaks by government whistle-blowers, as a sign that he is perhaps regaining his constitutional senses and perhaps even “moving” to the left to rebuild support he has been losing in droves.

Live Video Series from Kabul: Perspectives on the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership

What: Live Video Series from Kabul: Perspectives on the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership

When:Wednesday, June 5th at 10am EDT (US)/6:30pm AFT (Kabul)

Where:Live online video facilitated by Google Hangout, streamed to YouTube. See also: http://bit.ly/AfghanSecurity

Details:

How do Afghans feel about the Strategic Partnership and how do they articulate their own security needs and interests?

Broadcast live from Kabul, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, this conversation will address security issues from an Afghan perspective, with:

Sami Sadat, Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council

Abdul Waheed Wafa, Executive Director of the Afghan Center at Kabul University

Mohammad Hamid Saboory, Master’s degree consultant to Kardan University in Kabul

Matthew Southworth, Foreign Policy Legislative Associate for the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation

Moderated by Peter Lems, Program Director of Education and Advocacy for Iraq and Afghanistan at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

A strategic partnership is right now being negotiated between the governments of Afghanistan and the United States. At stake will be the number and type of U.S. forces after 2014, whether those forces will have immunity from Afghan law, what type of access they have to bases in the country, and the focus of financial assistance the U.S. will provide in the future.

These are fundamental questions for Afghans, and will dramatically affect their future and their country’s stability and development.

Because the US involvement is overwhelmingly military, we rarely hear about the goals of Afghan civil society and the type of relationship they would like to see with the U.S.

Join us for an on-going series of conversations looking at the key issues for Afghans. This dialogue will include what security looks like for Afghans, the regional dynamics of an on-going US presence, the need for assistance that supports civil society initiatives, and the broader question of accountability.

Presented by:

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Boston, MA                Kabul, Afghanistan       Philadelphia, PA

 

Contact:

For interviews, inquiries or more information, call Michael Sheridan 617-834-7206 or email michael@csfilm.org. Interviews with participants also available.

To submit questions for discussion subjects, contact Peter Lems at plems@afsc.org.

Thanking Bradley Manning

By Kathy Kelly

A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs), gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison.  Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning. #ThankManning!  

Basir believes that the vast majority of Afghans are among myriads world-wide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace. He wishes that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as “whistle-blowers.”

I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders.  In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them?  Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.

Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, recalled that Bradley Manning passed on documents that record 91,730 “Significant Actions,” or “SIGACTS” undertaken here by the U.S. /ISAF forces, of which 75,000 were released by WikiLeaks.

These SIGACTS include attacks by drones, sometimes invisible drones, and night raids. 

Our group turned to discussing the history of WikiLeaks, how it formed and how it now functions. Those most familiar with computers and internet explained the process of disclosing information by anonymously following a computerized route to a “dropbox.”

In fact, the Afghan Peace Volunteers themselves have been communicating with Julian Assange.

Last winter, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire had stayed with them shortly before she traveled to London for a visit to Julian Assange.  Through Mairead, they had sent Assange a letter of solidarity.

The APVs heard that Manning has been more isolated than Assange; they all shook their heads when Basir reminded them that Bradley Manning was initially in solitary confinement for eleven months.

Ghulamai thought through the ironic process of how governments designate some documents ‘secret,’ and how he would presume that the person who shares those secrets was a ‘criminal.’ But Ali said that governments chiefly hide ‘secrets’ from the public to maintain power. Hakim asked Abdulhai to imagine himself as the head of a government or of a large family. “If you are working for the good of the family or the state, would you need to do things secretly?” he asked.

“No,” Abdulhai replied. “If I have power, and I am truly working for the best interests of my people, I will not need to do things in secret.”

There was a keen conversation about who Bradley Manning was and what he did. Bradley Manning’s own words, which journalists had to actually smuggle out of his pre-trial hearing, described how Bradley’s mind had largely been made up by watching the secret video that he would come to release under the title “Collateral Murder:”

 

They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote "dead bastards" unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there’s an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew's lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew-- as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Together, the APVs watched the deeply disturbing “Collateral Damage” video itself. They were avid to learn what they could do to support and thank Bradley Manning.  Yet they’re aware of the risks faced by people who organize public demonstrations in Afghanistan.

It’s far easier to stand up for Bradley where I live, back in the U.S.  I hope many more of us will devote the time and energy we owe this young man for risking everything, as he did, to enlighten us and the world.  

The Afghan Peace Volunteers are eager for ways to link with others worldwide to express thanks and concern for a remarkably brave and conscience-driven 25-year old man whose courage and whose light is so acutely needed in this darkening time. I’ve seen the fierce light of these young people and, knowing them, I’m certain that others will be seeing it too in the years ahead. Are we readying signals with which to answer them, are we preparing ways to show people like them, and like Julian Assange, and like Bradley Manning, that they are not alone?

Photo caption:  Afghan Peace Volunteers with a sign that thanks Bradley Manning

Photo credit:  Hakim

Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). She is spending the month of May as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.com)

Obama: POTUS Impotens

Doubting Obama’s Resolve to Do Right

May 28, 2013

Editor Note: In his counterterrorism speech, President Obama ruminated about the moral and legal dilemma of balancing the safety of the American people against the use of targeted killings abroad. But Obama’s handwringing did not sit well with some critics including ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

An article in the Washington Post on July 6, 2010, reported me standing before the White House, announcing a new epithet for President Barack Obama: “Wuss – a person who will not stand up for what he knows is right.”

Shopping Bags Full of Money

Afghan president confirms he received tens of millions of dollars from the CIA in suitcases and sacks 'for access to Karzai's inner circle'       

      - Headline, The Daily Mail, 29 April 2013

 

Advice from an Afghan Mother and Activist: "Resist these dark times."

By Kathy Kelly

When she was 24 years old, in 1979, Fahima Vorgetts left Afghanistan.  By reputation, she had been outspoken, even rebellious, in her opposition to injustice and oppression; and family and friends, concerned for her safety, had urged her to go abroad.  Twenty-three years later, returning for the first time to her homeland, she barely recognized war-torn streets in urban areas where she had once lived.  She saw and felt the anguish of villagers who couldn’t feed or shelter their families, and no less able to accept such unjust suffering than she’d been half her life before, Fahima decided to make it her task to help alleviate the abysmal conditions faced by ordinary Afghans living at or below the poverty line - by helping to build independent women’s enterprises wherever she could.  She trusted in the old adage that if a person is hungry it’s an even greater gift to teach the person how to fish than to only give the person fish.

Last week, our small delegation here in Kabul traveled around the city with her to visit several clinics and “shuras,” or women’s councils that she has opened.

The first clinic we visited has been here since 2006. Two women, a doctor and a midwife, told us that they are part of a staff who work in three shifts to keep the clinic open “24-7.”  Not one of their patients has died while being treated at the clinic.

Next we visited two villages, one Pashtun and the other Tajik, on the outskirts of Kabul. 

“Why did you pick this village?” asked Jake Donaldson, an M.D. from Ventura, CA who joined us here in Kabul about a week ago.  “I didn’t pick them,” Fahima exclaimed. “They picked me.” 

A year previously, the villagers had asked her to build a clinic and a literacy center.  She had told them that if they would agree to organize a women’s cooperative and pool their resources to hire teachers, midwives and nurses, she herself would build the physical building and help with supplies. 

In each village, we visited a newly constructed building which will house a clinic, a women’s cooperative for jewelry-making, tailoring, and canning, a set of literacy classes for children and adults, and even a public shower which families can sign up to use.  A young teacher invited us to step inside his classroom where about fifty children, girls and boys, were learning their alphabet in the first week of a literacy class.  Several villagers proudly showed us the well they had dug, powered by a generator. The well will help them irrigate their land as well as supply clean drinking water for the village.

Before we left, a male village elder described to Fahima how valuable her work has been for his village.  Fahima seemed to blush a bit as she gratefully acknowledged his compliment.    

Such appreciative words, along with the children’s eager expressions, seem to be the main compensation for her tireless work.  “I and the board members of The Afghan Women’s Fund are 100% volunteers,” Fahima assures me.  “Our board members are people of tremendous integrity.”

On the day before our tour, Fahima had come to the Afghan Peace Volunteer home to speak to the seamstresses who run a sewing cooperative here and encourage them to hold on at all costs to their dignity.  She urged them never to prefer handouts to hard work in self-sustaining projects.  Fahima had helped the seamstresses begin their cooperative effort at the Volunteer house when she purchased sewing machines for them a little over a year ago. 

“Not all of the projects I’ve tried to start have worked out,” said Fahima. “Sometimes people are hampered by conservative values and some families don’t want to allow women to leave their homes. Most often, it is war or the security situation that prevents success.”

She firmly believes that war will never solve problems in her country - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Fahima is outspoken, even blunt, as she speaks about warlords and war profiteers.   She has good reason to be bitter over the cruelties inflicted on ordinary Afghans by all those interested in filling their own pockets and expanding control of Afghanistan’s resources.  She advises the Afghan Peace Volunteers with the voice and love of a mother. “The world is gripped by a class war in which the 1% elite, irrespective of nationality or ethnicity and including the Afghan and U.S./NATO elite, have been ganging up to control, divide, oppress and profit from us, the ordinary 99%. Resist these ‘dark times’, resist war and weapons, educate yourselves, and work together in friendship.”

Fahima’s spirit of youthful rebellion clearly hasn’t been snuffed out by age or experience.  Her practical compassion is like a compass for all of us who learn about her work.

For more about the Afghan Women Fund, go to www.Afghanwomensfund.org

Kathy Kelly, (kathy@vcnv.org), co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence  (www.vcnv.org). She is living in Kabul for the month of May as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/).

IMBY: The Afghanistan War Comes Home to Philadelphia

By Dave Lindorff


(This article was originally written on assignment forwww.counterpunch.org)


Congress Today: Who Does it Really Represent?

With U.S. approval of Congress holding steady at a whopping 15%, one wonders just who it is the elected representatives are representing. Perhaps we can answer that question, by looking at some of their recent activities, and considering some of the things currently left undone.

Afghanistan Drawdown, 20 More Years Of War

 

Source: Afghan Women's Writing Project "A Mother Expecting Still"
In order to reduce the number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, the Pentagon asked Congress for $9.6 billion of its allowance to be moved from one budget line to another. They asked permission to shift funds away from research and weapons purchases to instead “support funding shortfalls” in transportation, due to the high cost of removing from landlocked, mountainous Afghanistan. The Pentagon is reluctant to run short on funds for fuel, engaged as it is in the business of maintaining the largest carbon footprint on the planet.
 
But lest you make the mistake of thinking that withdrawal of many troops from Afghanistan means the war is over, a Pentagon official testifying to the Senate Armed Services committee said that the current war on terrorism could continue for ten, or maybe even twenty, more years. Also, now battlefields are chosen by "the enemy" and thus can and do keep cropping up in all sorts of unlikely places -- even Boston.
 
Downsizing the occupation consists of relying more and more on drones, or flying killer robots, and less and less on soldiers. Our mammoth fortified “embassy” in Kabul isnearly complete, Pepsi is building a new bottling plant there, and our imperial ambitions are leaning toward Africa while simultaneously pivoting to the Pacific. Look for more request for advances on the Pentagon's allowance.
 
What chaos do we leave in our wake as we "exit" Afghanistan? Every major news outlet (all owned by a few corporations, all headed by wealthy white men) participates in churning out the falsehoods that conceal the weeping of the bereaved in Kabul and Kandahar -- so that people in North America cannot hear them. 

Here, for example, is the New York Times reporting on negotiation of the devilish details of the "strategic partnership agreement" for post-2014:

Tales in a Kabul Restaurant

By Kathy Kelly

Kabul--Since 2009, Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a grim record we call the “The Afghan AtrocitiesUpdate” which gives the dates, locations, numbers and names of Afghan civilians killed by NATO forces.  Even with details culled from news reports, these data can't help but merge into one large statistic, something about terrible pain that's worth caring about but that is happening very far away. 

It’s one thing to chronicle sparse details about these U.S. led NATO attacks. It’s quite another to sit across from Afghan men as they try, having broken down in tears, to regain sufficient composure to finish telling us their stories.  Last night, at a restaurant in Kabul, I and two friends from the Afghan Peace Volunteers met with five Pashtun men from Afghanistan’s northern and eastern provinces. The men had agreed to tell us about their experiences living in areas affected by regular drone attacks, aerial bombings and night raids.  Each of them noted that they also fear Taliban threats and attacks. “What can we do,” they asked, “when both sides are targeting us?”

THE FIRST RESPONDER’S TALE

Jamaludeen, an emergency medical responder from Jalalabad, is a large man, with a serious yet kindly demeanor. He began our conversation by saying that he simply doesn’t understand how one human being can inflict so much harm on another. Last winter, NATO forces fired on his cousin, Rafiqullah, age 30, who was studying to be a pediatrics specialist.

"A suicide bomber had apparently blown himself up near the airport.  My cousin and two other men were riding in a car on a road leading to the airport.  It was 6:15 AM.  When they'd realized that NATO helicopters and tanks were firing missiles, they had left their car and huddled on the roadside, but they were easily seen. A missile exploded near them, seriously wounding Rafiqullah and another passenger, while killing their driver, Hayatullah."

Hayatullah, our friend told us, was an older man, about 45 years old, who left behind a wife, two boys and one daughter.

Although badly wounded, Rafiqullah and his fellow passenger could still speak. A U.S. tank arrived and they began pleading with the NATO soldiers to take them to the hospital.  “I am a doctor,” said Rafiqullah's fellow passenger, a medical student named Siraj Ahmad.  “Please save me!”  But the soldiers handcuffed the two wounded young men and awaited a decision about what to do next.  Rafiqullah died there, by the side of the road. Still handcuffed, Siraj Ahmad was taken, not to a hospital, but to the airport, perhaps to await evacuation. That was where he died.   He was aged 35 and had four daughters. Rafiqullah, aged 30, leaves three small girls behind.

And Jamaludeen knows that those girls, in one sense are lucky.  Four years ago, he tried to bring first aid as an early responder to a wedding party attacked by NATO forces.  Only he couldn’t, because there were no survivors. 54 people were killed, all of them (except for the bridegroom) women and children.  “It was like hell,” said Dr. Jamaludeen.  “I saw little shoes, covered with blood, along with pieces of clothing and musical instruments.  It was very, very terrible to me. The NATO soldiers knew these people were not a threat.” 

THE MANUAL LABORER'S TALE

Kocji, who makes a living doing manual laborer, is from a village of 400 families.  His story took place three weeks ago.  It started with a telephoned warning that Taliban forces had entered the Surkh Rod district of Jalalabad, which is where his village is located.  That day, at about 10:00 p.m., NATO forces entered his village en masse.  Some soldiers landed on rooftops and slid expertly to the ground on rope ladders.  When they entered homes, they would lock women and children in one room while they beat the men, shouting questions as the women and children screamed to be released.  On this raid, no one was killed, and no one was taken away.  It turned out that NATO troops had acted on a false report and discovered their error quickly.   False reports are a constant risk. - In any village some families will feud with each other, and NATO troops can be brought into those feuds, unwittingly and very easily, and sometimes with deadly consequences. Kocji objects to NATO forces ordering attacks without first asking more questions and trying to find out whether or not the report is valid.  He’d been warned of a threat from one direction, but the threats actually come from all sides.

THE STUDENT’S TALE

Rizwad, a student from the Pech district of the Kunar province, spoke next.

Twenty-five days ago, between 3 and 4 a.m., twelve children were collecting firewood in the mountains not far from his village.  The children were between 7 and 8 years old.  Rizwad actually saw the fighter plane flying overhead towards the mountains.  When it reached them, it fired on the twelve children, leaving no survivors.  Rizwad’s 8 year old cousin, Nasrullah, a schoolboy in the third grade, was among the dead that morning. 

The twelve children belonged to eight families from the same village.  When the villagers found the bloodied and dismembered bodies of their children, they gathered together to demand from the provincial government some reason as to why NATO forces had killed them.  “It was a mistake,” they were told. 

"It is impossible for the people to talk with the U.S. military,” says Rizwad.  “Our own government tries to calm us down by saying they will look into the matter."

THE FARMER’S TALE

Riazullah from Chapria Marnu spoke next.   Fifteen days previously, three famers in Riazullah's area had been working to irrigate their wheat field.  It was early afternoon, about 3:30 p.m.  One of the men was only eighteen - he had been married for five months.  The other two farmers were in their mid-forties.  Their names were Shams Ulrahman, Khadeem and Miragah, and Miragah’s two little daughters were with them.

Eleven NATO tanks arrived.  One tank fired missiles which killed the three men and the two little girls. “What can we do?” asked Riazullah.  “We are caught between the Taliban and the internationals. Our local government does not help us.” 

THE STORY OF U.S./NATO OCCUPATION

The world doesn't seem to ask many questions about Afghan civilians whose lives are cut short by NATO or Taliban forces. Genuinely concerned U.S. friends say they can't really make sense of our list - news stories merge into one large abstraction, into statistics, into "collateral damage," in a way that comparable (if much smaller and less frequent) attacks on U.S. civilians do not.   People here in Afghanistan naturally don’t see themselves as a statistic; they wonder why the NATO soldiers treat civilians as battlefield foes at the slightest hint of opposition or danger; why the U.S. soldiers and drones kill unarmed suspects on anonymous tips when people around the world know suspects deserve safety and a trial, innocent until proven guilty. 

 “All of us keep asking why the internationals kill us,” said Jamaludeen.  “One reason seems to be that they don’t differentiate between people.  The soldiers fear any bearded Afghan who wears a turban and traditional clothes. But why would they kill children?  It seems they have a mission.  They are told to go and get the Taliban.  When they go out in their planes and their tanks and their helicopters, they need to be killing, and then they can report that they have completed their mission.” 

These are the stories being told here.  NATO and its constituent nations may have other accounts to give of themselves, but they aren’t telling them very convincingly, or well.  The stories told by bomb blasts or by shouting home-invading soldiers drown out other competing sentiments and seem to represent all that the U.S./NATO occupiers ever came here to say.  We who live in countries that support NATO, that tolerate this occupation, bear responsibility to hear the tales told by Afghans who are trapped by our war of choice.  These tales are part of our history now, and this history isn’t popular in Afghanistan. It doesn’t play well when the U.S. and NATO forces state that we came here because of terrorism, because of a toll in lost civilian lives already exceeded in Afghanistan during just the first three months of a decade-long war – that we came in pious concern over precious stories that should not be cut short.  

Kathy Kelly, (kathy@vcnv.org), co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcnv.org  She is living in Kabul for the month of May as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/)

Photo caption:  Twelve children killed in the Kunar province, April 2013

Photo credit:  Namatullah Karyab for The New York Times

Tsarnaev's Handwriting on the Wall

Boston Suspect’s Writing on the Wall

May 17, 2013

Editor Note: Hiding and near death, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly scrawled on the inside of a boat that he did what he did to avenge innocent Muslims killed by U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a rare look at the why behind “terrorism."

By Ray McGovern

Quick, somebody tell CIA Director John Brennan about the handwriting on the inside wall of the boat in which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding before Boston-area police riddled it and him with bullets. Tell Brennan that Tsarnaev’s note is in plain English and that it needs neither translation nor interpretation in solving the mystery: “why do they hate us?”

"Winding Down" War on Afghanistan to Continue With Nine Huge Bases After it "Ends" in a Year and a Half

Los Angeles Times:

The United States has requested the use of nine large military bases in Afghanistan after international forces complete their combat mission here at the end of next year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday.

In the first public disclosure of the number of bases under discussion in security talks between the U.S. and Afghanistan, Karzai indicated that he would agree to the U.S. request. But he said Washington must provide unspecified "security and economic" guarantees in return.

But, of course, neither non-combat combat forces nor combat non-combat forces nor even plain old combat forces will ever do enough combatting to win Karzai's government the support of the people of Afghanistan.  So, at some point, ending the war is going to have to involve ending the war.

Love Letters from Kabul

Dear friends and fellow human beings,

9th May , 2013 ( Gregorian calendar )

20th Saur , 1392 ( Afghan calendar )

From Abdulhai

I can’t quite bear to see the forever-sorrow in my mother.

She walks in a sad way.

Once, I had called from Kabul to speak to her in Bamiyan, and I can’t recall what I had laughed over. She thought I was ridiculing her, despite my explanations of how I would never ridicule her, my widowed mother.

Since then, I’ve been calling her less often because I don’t quite know how to respond to her sadness.

I mean, I myself have a heaviness which sits inside. I used to cry easily as a kid, until I was older.

Last year, when I got angry with Hakim, and I said I wanted to leave the community, it hurt me very much to hear Hakim say, “If you really want to go, you are free to leave.”

Watch ‘Can Abdulhai and Samia be happy in Afghanistan?’

 

Can you imagine why, like most other Afghans, I sometimes get tired of my feelings?

My mother and I and all, we are all war children.

From Samia

Hakim asked me to describe what makes me happy.

‘Friends and family’ was my answer.

On a wall in the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ house, one of the volunteers, Sadaf, had painted two doves flying away from a cage, into the blue ‘lake’.

I told Hakim this drawing was a happy one. “Why?” Hakim asked.

“The doves are beautiful.”

From Hakim

Part of the loss of human dignity experienced by Afghans is the feeling that no one notices.

Bare mountains, rivers drying up, children with malnourished cheeks, beings under ‘burqas’, chair-less tent schools, fatherlessness, family-less-ness…..and yet, still un-regarded.

I re-print some thoughts I had sometime in 2004 ( italicized below ) , as I crossed over the harsh, no-man’s land from Quetta to Kandahar, learning from Abdulhai whom I met years later that we often walk like we’re in a prison, and that we can be happy when, like the imaginative art offered by doves, we labor daily to be free.

As I was going on foot from the Pakistan Immigration office into Afghanistan, I quietly felt fatigued, wishing for the comforts of home and the company of friends. But we have all taken this road before, venturing past unfamiliar limits and handling uneasy tasks, knowing that while it is ideal to travel together, sometimes, we need to walk a little way on our own.

Near the Pakistan Afghanistan border

Crossing the border

I wanted to shout out loud

As I crossed the border alone

Just so I could hear my voice

Above the bareness of my bones

 

The lines that divide our hearts

Are a hazy black and white

I can’t tell a right from a lie

Or when a struggle becomes a fight

 

I remembered the orphan boy Najib

His hard work and his strife

How he took that foreign journey

His mistake or his hope or his life

 

These zones, these places of nowhere

Can strengthen or cripple our course

Such that when we cross those borders

For a second, our history breathes a pause…

For a moment, I lost my resolve

 

Love,

Abdulhai, Samia and Hakim

Legacy of European Colonialism Liberating Women With Bombs and Bags of Cash

 

By John Grant

It was the summer of 1981. I was working on an ambulance in Philadelphia, transporting a cancer patient to a hospital for radiation treatments. The man was in his sixties, and I felt he knew his days were numbered.

In my conversations with the man, it came up that I was a Vietnam veteran. He told me he was in the CIA in Saigon in the early 1970s.

“What did you do?” I asked.

Rep Walter Jones: Get Out of Afghanistan

OUT OF AFGHANISTAN

a speech in Congress by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), on May 7, 2013

https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/item/speech/CREC-2013-05-07-pt1-PgH2442.chunk1/rep-walter-jones-out-of-afghanistan

Full Text Below, adapted from the Congressional Record.


Mr. Speaker, like most Members of Congress, I was home last week and did two or three different civic clubs. Everywhere I went, when I said it's time to get our troops out of Afghanistan, save lives of our American soldiers, and save money, I would get applause.

Also, in the last couple of weeks, my office has sent out a survey, and 17,000 people of the Third District responded, and 70 percent of the 17,000 said the same thing: Why are we still in Afghanistan spending money we do not have and having our young men and women to give their life for a failed policy known as Afghanistan? ....

.... Mr. Speaker, I'm on the Armed Services Committee, and I have written a letter to the chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee and asked her to hold hearings and bring in the inspectors general who've been looking into how the waste, fraud, and abuse abounds in Afghanistan. They can't even account for half the money we've spent over in Afghanistan. We've already spent over $700 billion in Afghanistan, and half of it we can't even account for ....

.... But when you hear about the CIA sending cash money for 10 years, millions and millions and millions of dollars to Karzai so that he can take care of the warlords over in Afghanistan and give a little bit of money to the Taliban so they can buy weapons to kill Americans, then I don't know and I sometimes just am frustrated. Where is the outrage in Congress? ....

.... We're not going to change one thing. They've already acknowledged, Mr. Speaker, that we are fighting the Taliban, and most of the Taliban are Pashtuns, the largest tribe in Afghanistan. They will eventually be the leaders, and Mr. Karzai will not even be in Afghanistan. He'll probably be in Switzerland counting his money that Uncle Sam has sent to him. ....

Ducking the Full Costs of War: The Ongoing Scandal Called the Veterans Administration

 

By Dave Lindorff


 

My mother died last Thursday at the age of 89. Her death, fortunately coming peacefully after she suffered a stroke during her sleep, followed a long mental decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Hostility Toward a Nation: What is the Source?

                Two recent, but seemingly unrelated, news articles are worth reviewing more carefully, to see a common thread.

                The first concerns remarks made by special rapporteur with the UN Human Rights Council, Richard Falk. Following the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon, Mr. Falk said this: “…the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen, especially if there is no disposition to rethink U.S. relations to others in the world, starting with the Middle East.”

"The Afghanistan Marathon" by Dennis Serdel

 

Photo source: Huffington Post / "Afghanistan: NATO Air Strike Kills 11 Children" April 8, 2013
 
The following poem was written by Dennis Serdel, Vietnam 1967-68 (one tour) Light Infantry, Americal Div. 11th Brigade, Purple Heart; United Auto Workers GM Retiree. It is re-published here with his permission. I added the graphics.

Afghanistan Marathon

It is the Afghanistan Marathon
Runners Race beginning in Lashkar
Gah in Helmand Province
& ending In Kabul so the US
Dictator Stooge Karzai could crown
the Winners.
The first bunch to take off
were Afghanistan Civilians, then off
went the Afghanistan Fake Soldiers,
coming up behind them were
the Taliban with all kinds of weapons,
then after that, the American Soldiers
were bringing up the rear.
The air & the road was so Hot
that Human Beings handed out
Water in cups to the Runners.
Half way in the Marathon
the Taliban set up IED's
in the pressure cooker race
& took off some of the American Soldier's
legs, killed three & wounded
more, they had to be choppered
out to the hospital & it really made
the US Top Brass mad
because they had bets on which
Army Unit would win,
So they sent two drones to cripple
the Taliban & it worked as the US
Soldiers passed the Taliban,
Arms, Legs lay everywhere.
The Afghanistan Fake Soldiers
began shooting the American Soldiers
until the US Air Force took some of them
out as the Rest tore off their Uniforms
& Ran & Escaped back to their War Lords,
Who were Not happy, because they
had bets on the Winners too.
Three quarters of the way,
the American Soldiers set up an ambush
& killed & crippled the
rest of the Taliban
but the damn Civilians who started
out First, were getting Closer & Closer
to the Finish Line
So at the last minute, the US Air Force
sent so many drones in
that they killed all the Civilians,
arms, legs, heads cut off
lay everywhere
& the Winners were the US Mountain
Infantry who found it easy to run
at Sea Level where the air was thick
but the bastard Karzai
said they cheated & would Not
make them the Winners & would Not
give them their Trophies
But he gave them to the few remaining
Taliban Patriots on the long bloody road
& Kept the Winners Money that
the Americans gave him for Himself
instead of the Winners.
The American Brass
were so mad, that they sent a 100 drones
out to kill any Afghanistans who were
at Funerals in the next few days
burying their Dead & then they'll bury more.
This Long Afghanistan Marathon War
has killed so many Afghanistan Children
Mothers, Fathers, GrandFathers / Mothers
for All these years, they can only Estimate
how many Died, it's in many thousands.
But at least we know
how many, American Soldiers
have been killed so far,
it's a Marathon,
an Afghanistan War Marathon
supposed to end next year
or the year after that,
no one seems to know
where the Finish Line is.

Written by Human Being Dennis Serdel for Military Resistance



Cost of War in Afghanistan at the moment of publication:
$631,956,947,739

Reaping the Whirlwind: A Violent Act Again in a Violent Nation

 

By Dave Lindorff


I ran the Boston Marathon back in 1968, and, my feet covered with blisters inside my Keds sneakers, dragged across the finish line to meet my waiting uncle at a time of about 3 hours and 40 minutes. It was close enough to the time that the current bombing happened in this year’s race -- about four hours from the starting gun -- that had I been running it this year, I might still been near enough to the finish line to have heard the blasts.

Manning's Co-Defendant is the Internet Itself Bradley Manning Update: How to Commit Espionage Without Trying!

 

By Dave Lindorff


If it wasn't clear up to now, it was made crystal clear last week. The co-defendent in the Bradley Manning trial is the Internet itself.

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