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Permanent Afghanistan Occupation Planned

 

Permanent Afghanistan Occupation Planned

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America came to stay. Accelerated withdrawal claims reflect subterfuge. Washington officials and media scoundrels don't explain. Misinformation and illusion substitute for reality.

 

'The Afghan People Are Fed Up': An Interview with Malalai Joya

Malalai Joya, 34, first gained international attention in 2003 when she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords. She was at that time serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga that was convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan; in 2005 she became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, and was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament.Malalai Joya visits a girls school in Farah province in Afghanistan in 2007. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2007 she again spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament and was thereupon suspended from the parliament. Since then she has survived many assassination attempts. She travels in Afghanistan with armed guards and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women and to end the occupation of her country.

She has received broad international recognition. In 2010, Time Magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and Foreign Policy Magazine in listed her in its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.  In March, 2011, The Guardian listed her among "Top 100 women: activists and campaigners." Her most recent book is "Raising My Voice."

I first met Malalai in 2007 in Berlin, after she was invited to speak in the German Parliament (see http://www.zcommunications.org/the-war-on-terror-is-a-mockery-by-elsa-rassbach), and we've met again during some of her further visits to Europe. This interview is based on our conversation during her most recent visit to Berlin and subsequent email correspondence between us.

The above text and following interview is by Elsa Rassbach, a US journalist and filmmaker based in Berlin, Germany.

__________________

RASSBACH:  Last month in Paris representatives of the Taliban for the first time met with their former enemies of the Northern Alliance, the collection of militias that fought them in the 1990s and eventually helped the U.S. to oust the Taliban regime.  Now President Obama has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to meet with him in Washington on January 11th.

What do you make of this?

Obama Considers Actually Ending the Occupation When He Ends the Occupation (Now Speed It Up 2 Years!)

White House weighs total Afghan pullout
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/21d4969a-59e6-11e2-b728-00144feab49a.html#axzz2HMbTC4eE
By Geoff Dyer in Washington

The Obama administration is considering leaving no US troops in Afghanistan after 2014 when the current mission is due to end, White House officials said on Tuesday.

1-Year Old Girl Froze to Death Last Night

By Guy Smallman

Last night 18 month old Saiyma Gadazai froze to death in the Kabul refugee camp where she was born. Her father told how they fled the war in the South. He held both NATO and the Taliban in equal contempt. She was laid to rest next to a 3 year old boy called Janaan who died in the same camp 13 days ago. Also from exposure. This country has been under the control of the richest nations on earth for over 10 years. For children to be dying like this in its capital city is utterly obscene. SHARE if you think something should be done about this!

See the funeral photos.

In Kabul, Widows and Orphans Move Up

By Kathy Kelly

Kabul --Yesterday, four young Afghan Peace Volunteer members, Zainab, Umalbanin, Abdulhai, and Ali, guided Martha and me along narrow, primitive roads and crumbling stairs, ascending a mountain slope on the outskirts of Kabul.  The icy, rutted roads twisted and turned.  I asked if we could pause as my heart was hammering and I needed to catch my breath.  Looking down, we saw a breathtaking view of Kabul.  Above us, women in bright clothing were navigating the treacherous roads with heavy water containers on their heads or shoulders.  I marveled at their strength and tenacity.  “Yes, they make this trip every morning,” Umalbanin said, as she helped me regain my balance after I had slipped on the ice. 

Zainab, Umalbanin, Ali, Kathy and Martha going up the mountainside

 

America’s Political Dysfunction at Root is an Unwillingness to Cut War Spending

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I was asked earlier this week by an reporter for PressTV, the state television network in Iran, if I could explain why the US political system seemed to be so dysfunctional, with Congress and the President having created an artificial budget crisis 17 months ago, not “solving” it until the last hour before a Congressional deadline would have created financial chaos, and even then not solving the problem and instead just pushing it off for two months until the next crisis moment.

 

Peace on Earth Should Include Afghanistan

Let there be peace on earth, and let it include Afghanistan.

We cannot be for peace without being against war.

We cannot be satisfied with inner peace while wars are being waged with our money and in our names.

The largest of those wars remains Afghanistan.  It is larger now than when Barack Obama first became president.

There is no strategic, legal, or -- above all -- moral justification for continuing this war for another year, or for another day.

Please take a moment to click here and tell our government that we want peace on earth.

Catch up on a forgotten war:

$500 For Desecration: 'US Marine fined, demoted for urinating on Afghan bodies'

US Military Needs to Leave Afghanistan and Stop Widening Drone Strikes

Why not warmth in Afghan duvets?

Afghanistan War Without End -- Or Wisdom, Understanding, and Peace

The Compassion of Women of Afghanistan for the Women of Gaza

Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire Goes to Afghanistan to Join Afghan Peace Volunteers' Demand for Cease Fire and Negotiation

Eid "Sensations"

Children under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

What to Do after 11 Years of War? How About Occupying Your City Council?!

US / NATO OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW!

Video: Recruiting Soldiers to Refuse to Go

Resolution passed by U.S. Senate:

"It is the sense of Congress that the President should, as previously announced by the President, continue to draw down United States troop levels at a steady pace through the end of 2014; and end all regular combat operations by United States troops by not later than December 31, 2014, and take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of United States troops in Afghanistan."

Letter sent to President Obama by 94 Congress Members (PDF):

Dear President Obama:
Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan. We are writing to urge you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground. That strategy is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade-long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.
After 10 years and almost $600 billion spent, over 2,000 American lives lost, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. While NATO and Afghan National Security Forces have made considerable strides, no military strategy exists and morale has been undermined by the proliferation of “Green on Blue” attacks. Sixty coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “When our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.”
This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close. Polls show over two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believe it is past time to end our combat role and bring the troops home.
We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people. It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.
Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. There can be no military solution in Afghanistan. It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.
While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed. We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to the defense of Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding. In addition, we would like to request a meeting to discuss these issues directly with you and your staff.
We look forward to working with you.

Where the U.S. public is:

 

  Stay until
stabilized
Remove
troops ASAP
Unsure    
   % % %      
 10/4-7/12

35

60 5      
4/4-15/12

32

60 8      
 3/7-11/12

35

57 7      
 1/11-16/12

38

56 6      
6/15-19/11

39

56 4  
  Doing the
right thing
Should not
be involved
Unsure    
   % % %      
 ALL

31

60 9    

 

"Do you favor or oppose the war in Afghanistan?"

 
    Favor Oppose Unsure Refused  
    % % % %  
 

5/3-7/12

27 66 6 1

"Do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. withdrawing military troops in Afghanistan?"

 
    Approve Disapprove Unsure    
    % % %    
 

4/22-24/12

78 16 6

 

  Worth
fighting
Not worth
fighting
Unsure    
   % % %      
 4/5-8/12

30

66 4    

 

Reasons for the U.S. military to stay in Afghanistan for two more years, and for 10 more years beyond that:

______________________.

 

US Military Needs to Leave Afghanistan and Stop Widening Drone Strikes

There is perhaps no time in American history when our leaders have fought a war with so little support. More than 60 percent of Americans want out of Afghanistan. Even at the peak of the anti-Vietnam-war movement, after a majority had turned against the war, there were still a large number of citizens who believed in the war and its official justifications. Today, as my colleague Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy notes, “Western leaders have largely given up trying to explain or justify why Western troops are still in Afghanistan and why they are still killing and being killed.”

Yet the war goes on, and even the White House plans for too slowly reducing the U.S. troop presence meet resistance from the Pentagon. In a replay of the internal fight over U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, U.S. commander General George Allen was pushing just a few months ago to keep the current level of troops for another year. The military would also like to maintain a permanent presence of some 6,000 to 15,000 troops.

That is not going to happen, as the Afghan people don’t want foreign troops in their country any more than we would want armed fighters from Al Qaeda here in the U.S. But the attempts to establish a permanent base of operations will make it more difficult to negotiate an end to war.

And yes, ironically, the U.S. will most likely end up negotiating with the Taliban to end this war, something our government refused to do after 9-11 when it launched the invasion instead. So, 11 years of war, more than 2,000 U.S. troops dead and tens of thousands wounded will have all been for nothing, to arrive at the same opportunity that was available without America’s longest war. Thousands of Afghans have been killed, and the population has suffered enormously.

The invasion of Iraq was disaster on an even larger scale, with more than a million estimated dead, including more than 4,400 U.S. troops. Hundreds of thousands came home wounded or with brain or psychological trauma and bleak job prospects. Beside the fact that the war was launched on the basis of lies, it is hard to see how anyone could excuse this crime even in retrospect. As the revolution in Egypt showed, people can get rid of their own dictators – foreign intervention is much more likely to create or vastly expand a bloody civil war.

Meanwhile, U.S. drone strikes carried out “secretly” by the C.I.A. are becoming institutionalized, widening the so-called “war on terror” to more countries, in addition to the hundreds of strikes already carried out in Pakistan. These attacks, which have killed hundreds of civilians and have even targeted rescue workers, are each day making more people want to kill Americans.

Our country and our media have too much reverence for the U.S. military and the CIA, which are not making us safer but rather helping to create new threats. As the Washington Post reports, some of our generals have an “array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards.” Even worse, many officers later join the boards and executive suites of military contractors, where they rake in millions making corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman richer at taxpayer expense, and sometimes promoting war itself on the network news. Our military-industrial complex is as corrupt and rotten as any institution of America’s broken democracy, and more deadly than most in its consequences.

We need to end this war in Afghanistan and the other operations that are making Americans less secure and recruiting new enemies daily. Then we can focus on fixing our broken economy at home.

Crime Watch: American Presidents and their Advisors are War Criminals

 

By Dave Lindorff


Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Why not warmth in Afghan duvets?

By Dr. Linda Sartor

Kabul--The Afghan Peace Volunteers are a group of young people in Afghanistan who are committed to learning about and practicing Gandhi’s nonviolence.  Many of them live in a house in Kabul.  I had met this inspiring group when I visited Kabul in the spring of 2011 with an organization based in the USA called Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  In mid-November, I had the opportunity to return to Kabul and spend a month living, working and playing with the group.  

Because of rampant corruption in Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers believe that donations always come with attachment to special interests and thus they do nothing to raise funds for themselves.  Yet they had voluntarily provided for a sewing course for poor women in Kabul who could come to the house.   Out of this sewing course project grew the idea of paying a living wage to the women for sewing duvets and then giving those duvets away to the very poor in the Kabul area.  Funds for this project go directly to the project, paying for the supplies and the sewing of the duvets.    

On the day I rejoined the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, they were set to distribute 150 duvets to about 50 destitute families in Kabul. What a fun adventure!  I was sitting in the front seat of a taxi behind a truck that was piled high, watching Faiz and Ali grinning as they rode along atop the tall tower of colorful duvets down the dusty, bumpy street.  Tears came to my eyes as I thought of describing this moment in writing.  I hope that I can even capture a fraction of the joyful spirit that I felt.

 
Ali on top of the pile of duvets on the truck, with me watching in the background

The day’s adventure began with loading of the duvets.   These are like quilts that are thick, like sleeping bags filled with synthetic wool.  150 duvets turned out to be a very big pile that was challenging to fit on the truck.  The crew piled the duvets layers deep, as high as they could reach.  Then Faiz climbed on top.  Ali climbed partway up and the rest of the crew continued to carry out piles of two or three at a time while Faiz and Ali spread them on top higher and higher.  Once they got that tall pile strapped down they started another the same way and then we were soon off to take the duvets to a house where they would be distributed to some of the poorest people of Kabul.  At least 28 children died last year in Kabul due to the winter cold, so families were very grateful for these gifts. 

The Compassion of Women of Afghanistan for the Women of Gaza

By Ann Wright

Last week I was in Gaza, just days after the 8 day Israeli attack on Gaza that killed over 180 Palestinians and subsequent rockets from Gaza that killed 6 Israelis.

This week I have been in Afghanistan where tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed since the United States began its military operations after September 11, 2001 to capture al Qaeda leadership, and where over 2 million have been killed in the past 30 years of war.

The United States now is in its twelfth year of war on Afghanistan.  In fact, it was 12 years ago, almost to the day, that I arrived in Kabul on a small State Department team to reopen the US Embassy.

After my resignation from the US government in opposition to Bush’s war on Iraq, I have returned to Afghanistan three times, 2007, 2010 and now 2012.

Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire Goes to Afghanistan to Join Afghan Peace Volunteers' Demand for Cease Fire and Negotiation


 

 

I have come here to give my support to the campaign for 2 million friends of the Afghan people.  You have chosen to run this campaign because you remember that 2 million people from Afghanistan have died in violence under war, under killing. 

We’re here today to remember every single one of those people who died needlessly and for this I am sorry, and I say, “Sorry to the Afghan people for what the governments of the US and NATO and other governments have done to the Afghan people, and I say, ‘Not in my name.’”

We’re here on behalf of the Afghan Peace Volunteers to give a petition to the UN and that petition is to ask the UN to broker a cease fire for Afghanistan amongst all the warring factions here in Afghanistan.

Peace is possible.  You have to believe that when you’re working for peace.

The killing must stop in order for peace to develop and grow.

But a passion for peace can come from the people. And that passion, working for peace, marching for peace, demanding your politicians make these….

The people can do this when you believe that peace is possible.  All the killing, all the war must stop.

I come from Northern Ireland and we had war and fighting among all the different ethnic groups, and it went on for a long time, a lot of people died.

My sister’s three little children were killed in our war.

People came out and said we want nonviolence, we want dialogue, we want negotiation from our politicians.

We want to solve the problems through forgiveness, through love, through dialogue.

And it happened!  It took time, but it happened.

Today in Northern Ireland we have peace, and the people have security.  They can go out and walk in freedom.

 

And I have hope in Afghanistan because I believe in the people of Afghanistan.

You’re good people.  You don’t want war. You never asked for all these years of war and division and occupation of your country and that must cease.  But you can that

You can do that through the methods of   nonviolence   

Your young people here, - I’m so inspired by them.    They’re teaching Gandhi.

 

And they’re solving their problems without killing and this is a way that works

To all the armed groups, please put up your guns, stop the killing and start talking.

To the Taliban and the armed groups I say to you,

 

You love your people   you want Afghanistan to be a better country

Do you want them to continue for a long time suffering, dying and living in poverty?

 

I know in your hearts, Taliban and armed groups,  it’s not what you wanted.  You started your struggle to have a better way for the Afghan people.

 

If you want a better Afghanistan, you must choose better means to bring about a good Afghanistan. 

Bad means cannot bring about good results.

Your means must be consistent with your ends.

And if you really love the Afghan people and want a better future for them, put up your arms and enter into dialogue with the government.

I Appeal to the Afghan government     that they enter into dialogue with the Taliban and the armed groups

There cannot be a solution without the groups that are part of the problem of a way forward

In Afghanistan

All inclusive unconditional talks    around the table to solve this problem

In Northern Ireland it was the only way that we could get a solution

We acknowledged---and the Afghan government and the Taliban will surely acknowledge   there will not be a military solution or a

Or a paramilitary   armed solution to our deep  ethnic political       economic,     human problems    that can only be solved in a human, compassionate, loving way not by militarism and war.

Most especially to the US to the UK and to NATO forces:

Withdraw from Afghanistan. 

You’re doing more damage  by being here and using  military force.  

The use of drones on an innocent people is not acceptable in a civilized community.  It is against international law and human rights to bomb innocent civilians.  There’ve been over 400 drone bombs dropped by the allied forces on people in their villages.  You’ve dropped them on weddings, you’ve  dropped them on people working in the mountains collecting wood to warm their homes because they’re cold and hungry.  This is against all international law and human rights and is indeed a crime against humanity to be using these methods against a civilian population.

So we appeal to them.  The allied forces, NATO  the US, they will say they are here to help the people.

How do you help a people?  By giving them military aid worth billions, but then dividing it up.  60% of the military aid that comes in here from the west is used to maintain the infrastructure of the military forces, to provide them with all their needs.     

A great percent of it then goes to contractors who are then not fulfilling their obligations to make roads, hospitals and schools for the Afghan people

What is left for the Afghan people?  Nothing.

We have met women here who are living in absolute poverty, trying to rear their children, trying to feed them, hungry and cold.  And they have received nothing in the way of aid coming into this country.

So that is not working.

I invite them to revisit….

When they send aid  to the Afghan people that they  monitor where it is going   and how it is helping the people of Afghanistan    Most certainly help them but help them build their schools, build their roads

Help them get a hope for life

One young Afghan woman described to me   Afghanistan  is like living in a hospital where people are being killed, people are dying, people are sick -- they don’t have the basics of life

I invite  the international community and the forces to turn their military   towards helping people get the very basics of life in order that they may live free, human and dignified  life in Afghanistan.

And to the women here,

I know you’re suffering tremendously and I feel for your pain and your suffering

But I encourage you to move beyond your suffering to work for peace and nonviolence

Because  peace and nonviolence, - you have to work for it.

I know you pray, “Praise  Allah”   because you are a people of prayer.

The Muslim people are a people of faith, a people of prayer.

We also need to go out and work very hard for peace.

In Northern Ireland, when we had our war, women didn’t normally go out to work for peace, onto the streets and work and build a peace movement. But we knew for the sake of our children and our future, we had to act as well. So, I encourage you to act and work for your human rights, your dignity. The Afghan people have a right to rights and I encourage you to be more vocal in your demand to stop all killing, and to work for peace in Afghanistan.

To my friend President Obama.

President Obama, your foreign policies are killing many people in the world. You’re destroying our civil human rights. You’re destroying in the world people’s hope for a peaceful, united, fair world.

Your policies are not working, for us all, for the American people, for the Afghan people, for the Palestinian people, for the Israeli people, for the people of the world! Change your policies!

We want peace. We’re tired of war. We’re sick of militarism, war and killing. We don’t want stay on this road anymore. We want a new way. We want a way of friendship, reconciliation, working together, feeding the poor, taking care of each other as a human family.

President Obama, we need you. We need you and the American people to move on to a different foreign policy.

(To the children of Afghanistan and the world)

We adults pledge to work hard to make your world safer, more peaceful. And you can help us. You can help us by being happy, by singing for peace, by dancing for peace, by creating peace, by believing in peace because some of the older ones are not so sure peace can happen. But when we look at you, we know that peace is possible.

Salam ‘aleikum. God bless you all.

 

US Intelligence Analysts: American Power is in Terminal Decline

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The US is on the way out as a hegemonic power. 


That is the primary conclusion of a new report out of the National Intelligence Council -- a government organization that produces mid-term and long-range thinking for the US intelligence community.


Human Rights Day in Kabul, Afghanistan

2mffin
Commemoration Story from the Afghan Peace Volunteers 
December 11, 2012, 7:30 pm (Kabul time)


 

Listen to the call and correspond on your computer through LiveStream.

  • 10 am Eastern / 7 am Pacific   
Listen to the Volunteers speak about their launch of the 2 million friends campaign
for Human Rights Day with delivery of their petition to
the United Nations calling for an all-parties ceasefire in Afghanistan


Hear from them directly about what it is like right now* - and from their international friends who support them including Nobel Laureate Mairead Macguire.  
(*Karzai's recent statements about immunity for forces remaining after 2014.)


Hear also about their on-going work that now includes:

  • welcoming ordinary Afghans of all backgrounds to the non-violent approach to resolve conflicts,
  • teaching language and math to others & continuing their own education,
  • creating media pieces like their Our Journey To Smile videos,
  • working with young Afghan seamstresses to make duvets (beautifully made insulated blankets) and distributing them to those in need,
  • initiating other creative, micro-loan based, livelihoods such as the Afghan 'Burger Cart' (potatoes & nan), and
  • inviting people around the world to: be friends!    
     

They will also share their video honoring everyone's Human Rights. Here's a preview:
 


       Please spread the word . . . 'in a spirit of brotherhood' and sisterhood.

 

Thank you for being our friends,  
the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

chero mohabat na-korim? ~ why not love?

A Case of Just Looking Stupid? The Not-So-Bright Bulbs at the White House and Pentagon

 

By Dave Lindorff


Let me see if I’ve got this right.


Tell Your Congress Member to Sign Lee's Letter to Obama Urging End to War on Afghanistan

Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan

From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By: @mail.house.gov
Date: 11/30/2012

Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama

Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan

Deadline Extended: Wednesday, Dec. 5

Current signers (70): Lee, Jones, McGovern, Adam Smith, Conyers, Grijalva, Kucinich, Woolsey, Holt, Rangel, Slaughter, DeFazio, Olver, Watt, Hanabusa, Rick Larsen, Campbell, Velazquez, Serrano, Sires, Honda, Rush, Loebsack, Lujan, Tsongas, Ellison, Barney Frank, Welch, Schakowsky, Blumenauer, Chu, Quigley, Christensen, John Lewis, Chris Murphy, Mike Thompson, Sarbanes, Markey, McDermott, Towns, Richardson, Cohen, Farr, Waters, Nadler, Stark, Norton, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Michaud, Hahn, Gutierrez, Braley, Speier, McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Garamendi, Moore, Alcee Hastings, Bonamici, Kaptur, Pingree, Edwards, Bass, Polis, Lofgren, Tierney, George Miller, John Duncan, Hank Johnson, Keating, Capps, Cicilline.

 

Dear Colleague,

Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) by an overwhelming bipartisan 62-33 majority calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. I invite you to read this AP article analyzing this groundbreaking vote.

The momentum to end the war and bring our troops home is building, but there are still those working to prolong the war. With the Pentagon due to present alternate long-term option on Afghanistan to the President in the coming weeks, it is critical that Congress catch up with the American people who have long realized that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.

We invite you to become a co-signer to the letter below to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe it is time to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.

To join as a co-signer, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office at 5-2661 or @mail.house.gov.

 

Thank you,

 

Barbara Lee Walter Jones

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

 

December 5, 2012

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

 

Dear President Obama:

Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan. We are writing to urge you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground. That strategy is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade-long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.

After 10 years and almost $600 billion spent, over 2,000 American lives lost, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. While NATO and Afghan National Security Forces have made considerable strides, no military strategy exists and morale has been undermined by the proliferation of “Green on Blue” attacks. Sixty coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “When our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.”

This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close. Polls show over two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believe it is past time to end our combat role and bring the troops home.

We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people. It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.

Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. There can be no military solution in Afghanistan. It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.

While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed. We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to the defense of Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding. In addition, we would like to request a meeting to discuss these issues directly with you and your staff.

We look forward to working with you.

Ending the US War in Afghanistan? It Depends on the Meaning of the Word ‘War’

 

By Dave Lindorff


It is amazing to watch politicians trying to weasel their way around their promises. President Obama is providing us with a good illustration of the art.


CLUSTERBALL: James Bond and the Petraeus Affair

 

By John Grant


Using one of those overarching dramatic titles we have come to expect in mainstream media news coverage, John Stewart summed up the Petraeus story as “Band of Boners.” It's the sort of thing that may be inevitable when so much power is given so much free reign by so much secrecy.

Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan

From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By:
Date: 11/14/2012

Dear Colleague,

As we welcome each other back to Washington after the recent election, our responsibility to our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan is as important as ever.  The Pentagon is providing President Obama with a set of recommendations for U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.  We owe it to our troops to earnestly deliberate our policies in Afghanistan.

In the coming weeks, we have an opportunity to ensure that our brave troops are brought home in a swift and responsible manner so that we can create jobs and engage in nation-building here at home.

We invite you to become a co-signer to the letter below to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan.  The overwhelming majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe it is time to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.

To join as a co-signer before the deadline this Friday, November 16 at noon, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office.

Thank you,

Barbara Lee                                          Walter Jones

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

 

***

November XX, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Obama:

Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan.  We are writing to urge you to pursue a path in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground.  That path is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.

This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close.  Polls show over 70% of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say that the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.

We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people.  It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.

Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States.  There can be no military solution in Afghanistan.  It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.

While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed and after 10 years and almost $600 billion, over 2,000 American lives, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. 60 coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “when our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.” We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding.

We look forward to working with you.

Barbara Lee                                        Walter Jones         

Member of Congress                        Member of Congress

Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.


Eid “Sensations”

By Buddy Bell

Kabul- On October 24, two days before Eid, an opinion piece published in the elite US journal Foreign Policy extolled the fact that US forces are winning in Afghanistan, adding, “Why doesn’t the media notice?” In the article, the author suggests that Taliban forces are so decimated and demoralized that they have been resigned to orchestrating “sensational attacks to give the perception [their] narrative is winning out and to reassure [their] followers.”

Eid is traditionally a time to visit family and friends, and in Afghanistan it often extends into 5 or 6 days as millions of people relish this chance to reunite with folks who they care about. At the apartment of the Afghan Peace Volunteers where I am staying, we hosted many visitors over these days, including some kids from the tutoring class that usually meets at the APV apartment in the afternoons after the regular school day is done.

Some of them had come over on their way home from the Kabul zoo. For a while we had a rousing time talking about the animals at the zoo, while one of the young toddlers carried around by his older sister crawled out of her grasp to clutch a handful of almonds and raisins from the snack tray and throw them in the air.

At the same time as this visit, one of those “sensational attacks” like the ones mentioned in Foreign Policy occurred in a mosque in Faryab province. The attack came during afternoon prayers, killing 41. For the families of these 41 people, and for all the Afghan people terrorized by the fact that such attacks could happen anywhere with increasing regularity, the morale of the Taliban is scarcely relevant. Innocent Afghans continue to die, sensationally or otherwise.

It would be bad enough if the only effect of the US troop presence in Afghanistan were the increase in militant recruitment and the follow-through of increased attacks against civilian and military targets. Unfortunately, the US military is also an active participant in homicidal negligence, as the killing of 3 Ghazni farmers (a man, woman and child) in a night raid on October 29 recently showed.

NATO spokespersons call such killings accidental, if they confirm the incidents happened at all, but “accidental” murder, like “sensational” murder, is still murder, no matter what label one chooses to put on it. Afghans have been vividly aware of the consequences, since they are the ones living with them. Many wonder why the same horrid drama keeps repeating. How many times can the same mistake occur before it becomes intentional?

Buddy Bell is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He is in Kabul, Afghanistan by invitation from the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

A Nation Armed to the Teeth but Living in Fear

 

By Dave Lindorff


A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.


Obama Campaign Displays Democratic Dysfunction and Warnings of Future Betrayal

 

By Dave Lindorff


We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.

Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.

Dreaming of Duvets

I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
––William Butler Yeats

by David Smith-Ferri

Haroon has recurring dreams. Haroon whose father was killed when he was a boy and who remembers a gnawing hunger during the long winter in every year of his childhood. At night, he dreams that someone drops him from a great height. He freefalls through the air, crashes to hard ground, and dies. During the day, he dreams of relief from the anger and confusion that pursue him, and of being a photographer, a traveler.

Faiz, who lost his parents when he was a boy, and whose brother was shot and killed in front of him, has nightmares, too. Each night at the Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) House here in Kabul, as he sleeps against the wall a few feet away, his moans and cries wake me. By day, he dreams of being a journalist, of marrying and raising a family, of a world without borders and war.

In Afghanistan, with a child mortality rate of nearly twenty percent, many children never even have a chance to form dreams, yet alone to realize one. Life is especially hard on children whose families flee their homes, leaving behind not only their land and livelihoods, but their social networks. Across the country, four hundred people are displaced every day by violence and poverty, and many of them choose to come to Kabul, carrying their shattered dreams with them. Kabul, a city built to support 300,000 people, is now home to over five million.

Last winter, particularly fierce, dozens of very young children froze to death in squalid, “refugee” camps on the outskirts of the city. An estimated thirty-five thousand people live in these camps, many of them having fled to Kabul from areas of heavy fighting in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. When we visit these camps, we find the residents in tattered cotton clothes and bare feet. They live without electricity or plumbing in huts they’ve constructed from mud, and the deaths of their children last year were as wholly preventable as the war their families fled.

Why Not Warmth From Afghanistan?

Dear Friends who have traveled with Voices delegations to Afghanistan,

Hello from Chicago.  Returning back here three days ago from Kabul, I felt like I was between homes, wanting very much to be connected and rooted in both, and yet 'thanking my lucky stars" for the chance to have been with friends in Kabul since late September. 

In past trips, Voices delegates have written about Kabul women we’ve grown to know who, when we first met them, told us they thought they were going mad, becoming actually mentally unstable, from the stresses of inability to feed their children.  The Afghan Peace Volunteers had invited these women to form a seamstress class at the APV home which now meets there every morning at 8:00 a.m.

We were a bit stymied, when Jody Tiller and I first arrived this past month, as to how they might sell their goods, avoiding exploitation by middlemen, to make a profit.  Local merchants give them only a pittance for very hard work, a small fraction of the price their goods actually fetch at the bazaar. 

We think a suggestion from Hakim is now becoming an exceptionally sensible solution.  

When David Smith-Ferri and I left Kabul, these women were full tilt into plans for making comforters, - duvets as they’re sometimes called – which would be given free of charge to needy Afghan families.  A harsh winter is on its way following last year's January that killed over 100 small Afghan children, 26 of them in Kabul's overflowing refugee camps. Assuredly, families most vulnerable to the terrible cold will need warm blankets to cover them all as they sleep. 

The seamstress collective told us that women across Afghanistan, including themselves, know how to make “duvets,” -- large comforters stuffed with wool or cotton.  They estimated the cost of producing one, factoring in a meager income to the seamstresses themselves, would be about $20 USD.  If we can supply the money to get the project going, they can begin working to make duvets for donation to poor Afghans ...one woman likely completing two duvets a day with help from family she can now feed.  The Afghan Peace Volunteers would help sew, and then store and distribute the duvets, as gifts, to needy families.

Voices co-coordinator Buddy Bell will leave for a three-week visit to Kabul on Tuesday of next week, carrying contributions from several donors eager to assist with the project.

We’ll be pleased to expand the duvet-making project as more funds become available. 

If you’d like to help with outreach and fundraising, welcome aboard! Checks can be made payable to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, with “duvet project” written in the Memo section and sent to Voices at VCNV, 1249 West Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640.  

Hakim coined the phrase: "Why not warmth?"  Please feel free to adapt this letter if you’d like to send it out under auspices other than VCNV.  What matters most is that we help distribute the heavy comforters before snow blankets Kabul. 

With all good wishes,

Kathy Kelly

Debate #2: Is that All There Is?

 

By Dan DeWalt


Tuesday's Presidential debate spoke volumes about the sorry state of politics today. Granted, both contenders gave a good show: Obama was back on his game and Romney did his best to sound like Ronald Reagan. The pundits have been given a lovely hopper of fodder to hold them for a week or so. It has been agreed that Americans only care for a spectacle, so this debate will be analyzed and judged the same way any theatrical event gets reviewed by the critics.


Children under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.


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