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Sunrise and Sunset in Afghanistan

By David Smith-Ferri

October 7, 2012, Kabul, Afghanistan. At 5:15 a.m., the main street outside the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s (APV) apartment is quiet, and the first weak rays of gray light filter down through dusty, polluted air. In the distance, the hulking brown mountains circling the Kabuli plain emerge ominously from darkness. After yesterday’s dust storm, a thin brown film covers everything: windows, the shop stall roofs where children fly kites in the evening, bicycle seats, burlap sacks protecting fruit and vegetable displays, doorknobs, throats, the leaves of trees. Early bicyclists and pedestrians make their way. A man pushes a wheelbarrow, and a black horse pulls a hooded rider and an empty wooden cart. Twenty minutes later, the first street vendors appear, blowing on their hands in the cold, and seating themselves on stools. They sit directly across from our apartment, and lift handfuls of thick, peeled carrots out of 40 kg. sacks. Hunched over, they grate the carrots into two rising, orange pyramids. All day, among the pervasive grays and browns and blacks of this neighborhood, these mounds of carrots are sunrise and sunset on the main drag.

That is how the day that marked the start of the twelfth year of the US-led military occupation of Afghanistan began in our cramped corner of Kabul. It ended with a two and a half hour skype phone conversation between young Afghans and a group of young American veterans of the war in Afghanistan. In between, it consisted of interviews with young Afghan men about the effects of war, their expectations for the future, their hopes.

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

While electoral politics tends to suck the oxygen out of the room (and apparently out of many people's brains) in these last few weeks before an election, a number of U.S. citizens committed to ending the wars took to the streets this week. Demonstrations in at least 38 cities in the U.S. as well as in some foreign countries -- most notably Code Pink's courageous peace march in Pakistan -- are marking the 11th year anniversary of the longest war in U.S. history.

US / NATO OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW!

How Many More Will Die for a Lie?

Veterans For Peace opposed the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.  We did not believe it was justified.  As military veterans, we did not think that war and occupation were what the world needed.  Eleven years later in our nation's longest war, it is apparent that the US / NATO occupation of Afghanistan has been based on a series of lies.  One of the biggest lies today is that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is succeeding, and the American people should therefore be patient with a phased withdrawal over several years.

The Pentagon’s Afghanistan strategy is up in smoke, more exposed than ever in recent news reports. The now-ended “surge” failed to break the momentum of the Afghan resistance, and officials have now abandoned their hope for a peace deal with the Taliban. Even so, there are twice as many U.S. troops, contractors and mercenaries in Afghanistan as when Obama took office.

A “withdrawal” strategy based on training Afghan police and military has been smashed by “insider killings.The Afghan people, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.

The generals and politicians know their war can never be won, and they admit this behind closed doors.  But they refuse to take responsibility for a 'military defeat' on their watch. So they lie to the public, say all is going as planned, and continue sending young men and women into a failed mission to save face.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed and maimed.Innocent civilians, including children, are killed by US/NATO forces on a regular basis. The Afghan people had no role in the 9/11 attacks.  Rather, 9/11 was made the rationale for an invasion that was already in the planning—not for freedom, democracy or human rights, but for Washington's and Wall Street's economic and geostrategic interests.

Over 2,134 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistanmore than 250 so far this year alone,  This figure does not include another one thousand NATO deaths, or contractors and mercenaries.

The seen and unseen wounds of this unjustified and failed war are killing soldiers at a higher rate than combat. A June New York Times articlereported more suicides among active duty troops than soldiers dying on the battlefield with at that time 154 taking their own lives, averaging one a day. This is in contrast to 124 fatalities from fighting in Afghanistan. The deaths continue at home as veterans return to devastated communities with services cut, no jobs to be found and suffering from physical and mental injuries. According to a widely cited VA report, 18 veterans commit suicide every-day. Or to put it another way, 1 every 80 minutes.

How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” asks Army LTC Daniel Davis, who traveled 9,000 miles through 8 provinces in Afghanistan before writing a grim assessmentof the US/NATO occupation. Colonel Davis is right—nobody else should be sacrificed in a lost cause.

Withdrawing all U.S. troops immediately—as favored by a large majority of American people– would be the right thing to do. Instead, our elected 'leaders' in government and unelected 'leaders' in the Pentagon are forcing troops into multiple deployments simply because they don’t want to be embarrassed.

Soldiers have alternatives to going to war, and Veterans For Peace is actively engaged in reaching out to GIs about those alternatives. For example, they may seek to be discharged as Conscientious Objectors.  Or they can demand real treatment for their physical and psychological wounds, instead of redeployment to war.

Tens of thousands of military personnel have gone AWOL since 2001.Many are living discreetly in the U.S. or seeking sanctuary in Canada, Germany and elsewhere.  We support war resisters. And in contrast to cynical politicians and generals, we actually do “support the troops.”

Veterans For Peace is joining forces with the young veterans of March Forward in the Our Lives Our Rights campaign.  We are reaching out to active duty GI's with a message of hope.  “If you wish to avoid returning to war, we will help you.  You don't have to go to Afghanistan.”

For more information about Our Lives Our Rights,

Call Mike Prysner at 813-785-3179 or Gerry Condon at 206-499-1220

Email projectsafehaven@hotmail.com, orvisitthe campaign website at www.ourlivesourrights.org.

Albany County Legislators: Bring the Troops Home From Afghanistan

Solid Majority Of Albany County Legislators Sign Proclamation To Bring the Troops Home From Afghanistan And Use Savings To Invest At Home

            On October 9, 2012, the legislature of Albany County, NY approved a proclamation calling on the U.S. Congress to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, reduce U.S. military spending, and use the savings to fund vital public programs in the United States. 

            Officially termed a “Proclamation Calling on Congress to Fund Urgently Needed Services in Albany County and Throughout the United States by Reducing Military Spending,” the measure was signed by 22 of the county’s 39 legislators – all Democrats.

            Before the proclamation’s final approval by the legislature, it had been endorsed by 29 labor, peace, religious, environmental, student, and other organizations.  They included the Albany County Central Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), the Interfaith Alliance of New York State, the Citizens Environmental Coalition, Upper Hudson Peace Action, the Labor Religion Coalition of New York State, Women Against War, the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, the Albany chapter of United Professions, the RFK Democratic Club and the Veterans for Peace.

            Speaking for the steering committee of the public campaign for the proclamation, Larry Wittner stated:  “It’s a proud day for the people of Albany County, whose representatives have spoken out for changing this nation’s priorities from war to peace.”  Douglas Bullock, the Albany County legislator who successfully circulated the proclamation to his colleagues, remarked:  “After eleven years of bloody war in Afghanistan, it’s time to bring our troops home and end its vast drain on U.S. lives and resources.”

            Similar proclamations have been passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as by Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Hartford, Portland, Pittsburgh, and dozens of other localities throughout the United States.

            Albany County is one of the oldest counties in the United States and was a seedbed of the American Revolution.  It includes the City of Albany, the capital of New York State, and has a population of 304,000.

            For further information, contact:  Doug Bullock ( 426-0883).
 
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Proclamation Calling on Congress to Fund Urgently Needed Services in Albany County and Throughout the United States by Reducing Military Spending

WHEREAS, the members of the Albany County Legislature and the constituents we represent want to ensure the safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of U.S. soldiers, veterans, and their families; and

WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and in Albany County there is a structural budget deficit approaching $20 million[i], causing layoffs, cutbacks and continued destruction of the public education system; and

WHEREAS, every dollar spent on the military produces fewer jobs than spending the same dollar on education, healthcare, clean energy, or even tax cuts for household consumption; and the current unemployment rate in Albany County is 7.9%[ii](nearly 24,000 people)[iii]; and this includes the current African American unemployment rate of 15.9%[iv]; and

WHEREAS, U.S. military spending has approximately doubled in the past decade, in real dollars and as a percentage of federal discretionary spending, and well over half of federal discretionary spending is now spent on the military, and we are spending more money on the military now than during the Cold War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War; and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Albany County taxpayers over $1.77 billion since 2001[v]; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. military budget is by far the largest in the world, and almost equals the military spending of all other nations combined; and

WHEREAS, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed major reductions in military spending in both its Co-Chairs’ proposal in November 2010 and its final report in December 2010; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in June 2011 calling on Congress to redirect spending to domestic priorities; and the people of the United States, in numerous opinion polls, favor redirecting spending to domestic priorities and withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, the United States has armed forces stationed at approximately 1,000 foreign bases in approximately 150 foreign countries; and

WHEREAS, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth but trails many other nations in life expectancy, infant mortality, education level, housing, and environmental sustainability, as well as non-military aid to foreign nations; and in Albany County 13.5% of residents are without health care insurance,[vi]30.7% of African Americans and 22.6% of Hispanics are living in poverty,[vii]14.3% of children and youth with ages up to 17 years old lived in poverty in 2009,[viii]and 80 veterans are homeless on any given night[ix];

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Albany County Legislature calls on the U.S. Congress to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and significantly cut the Pentagon budget, and to take the money saved by those actions and fund education, public and private sector family-sustaining job creation, care for veterans and their families, special protections for military sector workers, environmental and infrastructure restoration, and human services that our counties, cities and states so desperately need; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to President Barack Obama, the New York Congressional delegation, the Governor of New York, the New York State Legislature, and all government departments in Albany County.




[i]Michael Conners, “What a Week!” Times Union. January 21, 2012. Last viewed online July 23, 2012 at http://blog.timesunion.com/conners/date/2012/01/

[ii]Economic Research Tool. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NYALBA1URN

[iii]U.S. Department of Commerce. United States Census Bureau. State & County QuickFacts. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36001.html- 2011 population estimate = 303,500

[iv]U.S. Census Bureau. American Fact Finder. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_10_1YR_S2301&prodType=table– percentage based on this 2010 1-year estimate

[v]National Priorities Project. Cost of War Calculator. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://costofwar.com/state/NY/county/albany-county/

[vi]New York State Community Action Association. “New York State Poverty Report.” February 2010, p. 6. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://www.virtualcap.org/downloads/US/US_Reports_NY_Poverty_Report_2010.pdf

[vii]Ibid.

[viii]The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Data Center – Kids Count. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/stateprofile.aspx?state=NY&loc=4848– figure is for 2009

[ix]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s 2011 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs. Homeless Populations and Subpopulations. Last viewed online August 7, 2012 at http://www.hudhre.info/CoC_Reports/2011_ny_503_pops_sub.pdf

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Co Sponsors:  Hon. Brian Clenahan, Hon. David Mayo, Hon. Raymond Joyce, Hon. Timothy Nichols, Hon. Philip Steck, Hon. Norma Chapman and Hon. Douglas Bullock

How the U.S. Quietly Lost the IED War in Afghanistan


 

U.S. Army Pfc. Shawn Williams is evacuated after being injured by a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province on Jun. 17, 2011. Credit: DoD photo

U.S. Army Pfc. Shawn Williams is evacuated after being injured by a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province on Jun. 17, 2011. Credit: DoD photo

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 2012 (IPS) - Although the surge of “insider attacks” on U.S.-NATO forces has dominated coverage of the war in Afghanistan in 2012, an even more important story has been quietly unfolding: the U.S. loss of the pivotal war of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to the Taliban.

Some news outlets have published stories this year suggesting that the U.S. military was making “progress” against the Taliban IED war, but those stories failed to provide the broader context for seasonal trends or had a narrow focus on U.S. fatalities. The bigger reality is that the U.S. troop surge could not reverse the very steep increase in IED attacks and attendant casualties that the Taliban began in 2009 and which continued through 2011.

Over the 2009-11 period, the U.S. military suffered a total of 14,627 casualties, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Casualty Analysis System and iCasualties, a non-governmental organisation tracking Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties from published sources.

Of that total, 8,680, or 59 percent, were from IED explosions, based on data provided by the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO). And the proportion of all U.S. casualties caused by IEDs continued to increase from 56 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2011.

The Taliban IED war was the central element of its counter-strategy against the U.S. escalation of the war. It absorbed an enormous amount of the time and energy of U.S. troops, and demonstrated that the counterinsurgency campaign was not effective in reducing the size or power of the insurgency. It also provided constant evidence to the Afghan population that Taliban had a continued presence even where U.S. troops had occupied former Taliban districts.

U.S. Pentagon and military leaders sought to gain control over the Taliban’s IED campaign with two contradictory approaches, both of which failed because they did not reflect the social and political realities in Afghanistan.

JIEDDO spent more than 18 billion dollars on high-tech solutions aimed at detecting IEDs before they went off, including robots, and blimps with spy cameras. But as the technology helped the U.S.-NATO command discover more IEDs, the Taliban simply produced and planted even larger numbers of bombs to continue to increase the pressure of the IED war.

ClearingTheFog Radio on Afghanistan and Iran with Gareth Porter of IPS News and David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org

This show was pre-taped to play on the day after the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan. The US recently achieved the milestone of 2,000 military killed in Afghanistan as insider attacks increase. Gareth Porter who has been writing about US policy in Iraq and Iran for InterPress Service News since 2000 talks about what is happening in Afghanistan now (see his article: http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?i...) and the major myths about Afghanistan. He also speaks about US policy towards Iran. Read http://original.antiwar.com/porter/20... to learn more. Then David Swanson, author of "War is a Lie," joins us to talk about his recent meeting with Iranian President Ahmedinejad who was visiting the United Nations. David discusses the way American media portrays Iran, President Obama's war policies, the concept of "humanitarian" war and what it will take to end war. David writes at WarIsACrime.org.

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

Tube World is the first children's book by David Swanson, author of several nonfiction adult books. The illustrations for Tube World are by Shane Burke.

Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning?  Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds?  Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school?  Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day?  You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.

Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow?  Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip?  Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast?  If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know.  And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.

Buy the PDF, EPUB (iPad, Nook, etc.), or MOBI (Kindle) from Ebookit.

The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.

Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,

(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)

Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,

Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.

Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.

Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

Advance Praise for Tube World:

“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley

“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis

“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie

About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper.  You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com

"We don't have to go to Afghanistan"

Veterans Deploy to Fort Lewis with Message of Hope for the Troops

Bold Action Coincides With 11th Anniversary of Afghanistan War

WHAT: Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans with the “Our Lives Our Rights” campaign will engage in a week of outreach to soldiers in 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in late October, with the message “You don’t have to go to Afghanistan.” Soldiers will receive information about Conscientious Objection and other legal avenues to avert deployment.

WHERE: Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding area. WHEN: October 7-13, 2012

PRESS CONFERENCE

Tuesday, October 9, 11 am

Coffee Strong, 15109 Union Ave. Suite B, Lakewood, WA (next to Subway)

WHO: The Our Lives Our Rights campaign is an initiative launched by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to help service members exercise their rights—first and foremost, their right to become a Conscientious Objector to war. Two progressive veterans’ and service members’ organizations, March Forward! and Veterans For Peace, will be carrying out this week of action.

WHY: From the Our Lives Our Rights campaign: “The Pentagon’s Afghanistan strategy is up in smoke, exposed in recent news reports. The now-ended “surge” failed to break the momentum of the Afghan resistance, and officials have now abandoned their hope for a peace deal with the Taliban. A “withdrawal” strategy based on training Afghans to replace us has been smashed by “insider killings,” where now those supposed to replace us are the biggest threat to our lives. The Afghan people, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.

The generals and politicians know their war can never be won, and they admit this behind closed doors,” says Iraq veteran Mike Prysner. “But they refuse to take responsibility for a 'military defeat' on their watch. Millionaire politicians are playing politics with our lives.”

Over 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan – more than 250 so far this year alone – and many thousands more have been maimed for life,” says Gerry Condon, a Vietnam era veteran.

How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” asks Army LTC Daniel Davis, who traveled 9,000 miles through 8 provinces in Afghanistan before writing a grim assessment of the US/NATO occupation. Colonel Davis is right—nobody else should be sacrificed in a lost cause.

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030

Withdrawing all U.S. troops immediately—as favored by a large majority of American – would be the right thing to do. Instead, our elected 'leaders' in government and unelected 'leaders' in the Pentagon are forcing troops into multiple deployments to go on pointless patrols, simply because they don’t want to be embarrassed.

Soldiers have legal alternatives to going to war. These are our lives, so we should exercise our rights. Now is the time to get help from fellow soldiers and veterans who understand what we and our families are going through.

Organizers are available for interview. Visit the campaign website at www.ourlivesourrights.org.

For more information call 813-785-3179 or 206-499-1220, or Email: info@marchforward.org

Against Odds


by David Smith-Ferri

Here in Afghanistan, survival – physical, cultural, and psychosocial– is a pressing and inescapable reality, a day-to-day struggle against odds for many people, especially as the harsh Afghan winter arrives, and necessary preparations for it are compromised by poverty, violence, and displacement. Women and children are at the front lines of the struggle.

Every morning, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ (APVs) home in western Kabul, sixteen women come to a tailoring class where they learn a valuable skill and dream of forming a sewing cooperative. Most of these women are mothers, coping with care of children and a household. Everyday, like their counterparts throughout Afghanistan, they struggle to feed and clothe their children, to support them in school, to obtain timely health care for them, to shepherd them into adulthood. In a country with thirty-six percent unemployment and widespread poverty, the dangers to women and children are real. In a country where one in eleven women die in childbirth, where psychological trauma from violence and the threat of violence is the norm, where the child mortality rate is among the world’s highest, and acute malnutrition is a shameless and silent thief robbing mothers of their children and robbing children of their minds and bodies, the dangers are clear and present.

Women often shoulder these burdens alone, and stagger beneath their weight. Today, after the class, Zahara stayed behind to talk and broke down in a cascade of tears. “The public schools are no good… I cannot afford to send our children for private instruction…They need more, but I cannot help them…”

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Naming the Dead - Afghanistan 11 years on - Sunday 7th

Inline images 1

    Stop the War Coalition 2 October 2012
    Email: office@stopwar.org.uk
    Tel: 020 7561 9311
    Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
Twitter: https://twitter.com/STWuk


Naming the Dead - Afghanistan 11 years on - Sunday 7th
Syria & Iran - No to Western Intervention - Tuesday 9th

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This Sunday is the 11th anniversary of the Afghan war. We will be organising a number of local events, and in London a Naming of the Dead in Trafalgar Square at 1pm on Sunday 7th October.
 
The event will be attended by those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan, and among others Mitra Quayoom from Afghans for Peace, MPs Paul Flynn and Jeremy Corbyn, actor Miriam Margolyes, and musician Dave Randall.

We are asking our London supporters to mobilise widely for this. There is growing opposition to the disastrous war and we need to be on the streets. On the day we will also be handing in a letter to David Cameron from Military Families which will be launched as a national petition on the weekend.
 
Let us know you are coming by joining the Facebook event and please share with your contacts: on.fb.me/SjcRFQ

On Tuesday 9th October Tariq Ali will be the main speaker in a public meeting on Syria and Iran. The 'No the Western Intervention' meeting will discuss the situation 11-years on from the start of the war on terror. Please come along and support. 7pm University of London Union, Malet St, London WC1. You can join the Facebook event here: on.fb.me/NxElex
 
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Syria, the story thus far

"Today, many Americans are asking — indeed I ask myself," Hillary Clinton said, "how can this happen? How can this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated, and at times, how confounding the world can be." 1

The Secretary of State was referring to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya September 11 that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans. US intelligence agencies have now stated that the attackers had ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.2

Yes, the world can indeed be complicated and confounding. But we have learned a few things. The United States began blasting Libya with missiles with the full knowledge that they were fighting on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. Benghazi was and is the headquarters for Muslim fundamentalists of various stripes in North Africa. However, it's incorrect to claim that the United States (aka NATO) saved the city from destruction. The story of the "imminent" invasion of Benghazi by Moammar Gaddafi's forces last year was only propaganda to justify Western intervention. And now the United States is intervening — at present without actual gunfire, as far as is known — against the government of Syria, with the full knowledge that they're again on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. A rash of suicide bombings against Syrian government targets is sufficient by itself to dispel any doubts about that. And once again, the United States is participating in the overthrow of a secular Mideast government.

At the same time, the Muslim fundamentalists in Syria, as in Libya, can have no illusions that America loves them. A half century of US assaults on Mideast countries, the establishment of American military bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and US support for dictatorships and for Israel's genocide against the Palestinians have relieved them of such fanciful thoughts. So why is the United States looking to forcefully intervene once again? A tale told many times — world domination, oil, Israel, ideology, etc. Assad of Syria, like Gaddafi of Libya, has shown little promise as a reliable client state so vital to the American Empire.

It's only the barrier set up by Russia and China on the UN Security Council that keeps NATO (aka the United States) from unleashing thousands of airborne missiles to "liberate" Syria as they did Libya. Russian and Chinese leaders claim that they were misled about Libya by the United States, that all they had agreed to was enforcing a "no-fly zone", not seven months of almost daily missile attacks against the land and people of Libya. Although it's very fortunate that the two powers refuse to give the US another green light, it's difficult to believe that they were actually deceived last spring in regard to Libya. NATO doesn't do peacekeeping or humanitarian interventions; it does war; bloody, awful war; and regime change. And they would undoubtedly be itching to show off their specialty in Syria — perhaps even without Security Council blessing — except that NATO and the US always prefer to attack people who are exceptionally defenseless, and Syria has ballistic missile capabilities and chemical weapons.

It's likely that the American elections also serve to keep Obama from expanding the US role in Syria. He may have concluded that there are more votes in the Democratic Party base for peace this time than for waging war against his eighth (sic) country.

The propaganda bias in the Western media has been extreme. Day after day, month after month, we've been told of Syrian government attacks, using horrible means, almost invariably with the victims described as unarmed civilians; without any proof, often without any logic, that it was actually the government behind a particular attack, with the story's source turning out to be an anti-government organization; rarely informing us of similar behavior on the part of the rebel forces. In May, the BBC included pictures of mass graves in Iraq in their coverage of an alleged Syrian government massacre in Houla, Syria. The station later apologized for the pictures saying that they had been submitted to the BBC by a rebel group. 3 On June 7, Germany's leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing opponents of Assad, reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and that the bulk of the victims were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.

According to a report of Stratfor, the private and conservative American intelligence firm with high-level connections, many of whose emails were obtained by Wikileaks: "most of the [Syrian] opposition's more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue." They claimed "that regime forces besieged Homs and imposed a 72-hour deadline for Syrian defectors to surrender themselves and their weapons or face a potential massacre." That news made international headlines. Stratfor's investigation, however, found "no signs of a massacre", and warned that "opposition forces have an interest in portraying an impending massacre, hoping to mimic the conditions that propelled a foreign military intervention in Libya." Stratfor then stated that any suggestions of massacres were unlikely because the Syrian "regime has calibrated its crackdowns to avoid just such a scenario ... that could lead to an intervention based on humanitarian grounds."4

NY OCT. 7 DEMONSTRATION TO PROTEST 11 YEARS OF DEATH & DEBT IN AFGHANISTAN

MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT, GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST THE WAR, CODE PINK, BROOKLYN FOR PEACE, PEACE ACTION NEW YORK STATE, Sponsor:

DEMONSTRATION TO PROTEST 11 YEARS OF DEATH & DEBT IN AFGHANISTAN

Place: 60 East 14th Street between Broadway and 4th Avenue in front of Nordstrom’s opposite Union Square, New York City

Date: Sunday, October 7

Time: 2:00 to 6:00 P.M.

PROTEST FALL 2012 DEPLOYMENT OF 3,500 NEW YORK TROOPS FROM FT. DRUM PAID BY OUR TAXES, 6 Battalions: 14th Infantry regiment; 2nd Brigade Special Troop Battalion; 1st Squad 89th Cavalry; 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 15 Field Artillery; 210th Brigade Supply Battalion.

From Sep 9- 22 In Afghanistan were killed:
Sgt Lee Davidson 32 England, Sgt Kyle Osborn 26 Lafayette IN, Cpl Duane Groom 32 Fiji, Sgt Bradley Atwell 27 Kokomo IN, Col Christopher Raible 40 Huntington PA, Pvt Thomas Wroem 18 England, Sgt Gareth Thursby 29 England, Pvt Jon Townsend 19 Claremore OK, Pvt Genaro Bedoy 20 Amarillo TX, Spc Joshua Nelson 22 Greenville NC, Sgt Sapuro Nena 25 Honolulu HI, Sgt Jason Swindle 24 Cabot AR, Sgt Jonathan Kups 38 England, Cap James Tonley 29 UK, 200 Afghani and Pakistani were killed.

NAMES OF THE FALLEN WILL BE READ

2,123 U.S., 1,065 NATO & COUNTLESS AFGHANI DEATHS

We spend $1,000,000 for each soldier per year, while 24 US kids die of poverty EACH DAY, tens of thousands of homeless children live in shelters and they cut teachers. Say NO!

For further information: (646) 824-5506 vmmcfadyen@aol.com

MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT is a national group of families related to soldiers who served since 9/11, opposed to the Afghan war.

Building Bridges Instead of Imperial Wars

 

John Grant

 

“Blows that don’t break your back make it stronger.”
- Anthony Quinn in Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert
 

 

For years, I’ve been working either in the journalism realm or as an antiwar veteran activist expressing the core idea that the United States of America is an “empire,” that its militarist foreign policy is “imperialistic” and that many of our perennial and current problems are rooted in the reality that, as an imperial nation, like many empires in history, we’re overextending ourselves and destroying something that is dear to all American citizens who love this country.

Afghanistan: past a tipping point


   
    Stop the War Coalition
25 September 2012
    Newsletter No. 1255
    Email: office@stopwar.org.uk
    Tel: 0207 561 9311
    Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/STWuk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) Afghanistan: past a tipping point
2) Anniversary conference - date for your diary
3) Syria and Iran
4) Extraditions given green light - no justice
5) Naming the dead - help us spread the word - 7th October 2012 at 1pm

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1) Afghanistan: past a tipping point

The occupation of Afghanistan has passed a tipping point. Monday's Daily Mirror reports a poll showing four out of five Britons think that the war has been a waste of lives and only one in ten think it has been worthwhile. 52% believe the troops should be brought back immediately and that David Cameron's timetable should be scrapped.

This is a majority of the population, according to polls, who want immediate withdrawal - a view barely represented in mainstream politics or media.

This reflects a growing realisation of what the war and occupation really mean: misery for ordinary Afghans, a growing death toll and a sense among soldiers that the war is lost. (SEE The Mirror: "Get our heroes out of pointless Afghan war now" http://bit.ly/OobT0f).

The attack on Camp Bastion two weeks ago revealed the weakness of  Nato forces and the underlying strength of the resistance. This attack and the continued green on blue deaths marked a turning point in opinion. We now need to increase our campaigning to end this war and occupation.

We are asking all our supporters to do everything possible to step up the pressure to bring the troops home by Christmas. There is a petition calling for troops out you can download at bit.ly/OScCH9

Members of Military Families have written an open letter to David Cameron calling for him to bring the troops out by Christmas which will be launched on the weekend of the anniversary of the invasion on the 7th of October.

There will be a Naming the Dead Ceremony in Trafalgar Square on the 7th October at 1pm organised with Afghans for Peace, which will be attended by Joan Humphries, whose grandson died in Afghanistan. Please share the facebook event widely. Other people attending include Paul Flynn MP, the actor Miriam Margolyes and the composer Howard Blake. Please spread the word as widely as possible.

We are reprinting our pamphlet on Afghanistan with a new introduction. Please order this and other materials from the office.

If you live in London, you will be very welcome at the London Activists' Meeting on 26 September 2012 to discuss actions. Full details at on.fb.me/RCet2E

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2) Anniversary conference - date for your diary

To mark the 10th anniversary of the major 2 million strong demo against the Iraq war, which took place on 15 February 2003 we are holding a conference in London which will discuss the aftermath of the war and the threats of war in the present and future. It will be in Friends House, London on Saturday 9th February 2013. A wide range of prominent speakers have already been booked. Brochures and more details to follow soon.

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3) Syria and Iran

The UN meets in New York this week with more threats of intervention in the Middle East, in Syria and Iran. Obama's speech to the UN general assembly is to say that the US will  'do what we must' to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and that a nuclear-armed Iran 'is not a challenge that can be contained'. (SEE "Obama's UN General Assembly speech condemns extremism" bbc.in/OZy0og).

There is no sign of the crisis abating as we enter the final stage of the US presidential election. Stop the War has a public meeting against intervention in Syria and Iran on Tuesday October 9th at 7pm in University of London Union, Malet St, London WC1. Speakers include Tariq Ali, Lindsey German and Sabah Jawad.

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4) Extraditions given green light - no justice

The decision by the European Court of Human Rights to uphold the extradition of five terrorism suspects is a blow to all those campaigning against extradition to the US of suspects of crimes committed in the UK. In particular it is a blow to the families and campaigns over Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, who have fought long and hard against this outcome.

We send our support and best wishes to the families and support them in any further steps they take to reverse this decision, which will mean long term solitary confinement for all the extraditees. Incredibly the judges sitting in Strasbourg agreed a ruling that their human rights would not be violated by life sentences in a 'supermax' prison. Please watch for any further actions which we will put on the website.

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5) Naming the dead - help us spread the word - 7th October 2012 at 1pm

We have created a Facebook event for the Naming the Dead Ceremony at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 7 October. This will mark the 11th anniversary of the start of the conflict in Afganistan. Please help pulicise this event as widely as possible. If you are on Facebook, share the event details with your contacts: on.fb.me/SjcRFQ

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The US is the World's Biggest War-Monger

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a massive deception campaign in the US, and in its global propaganda, which seeks to portray the United States as a poor set-upon nation that would like world peace but just has to keep a military stationed around the globe to “police” all the world’s “trouble spots.”


International Peace Day from Kabul, Afghanistan

By Johnny Barber

On this International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan.  The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.

Taliban Outflank U.S. War Strategy with Insider Attacks

 

WASHINGTON/KABUL, Sep 20 2012 (IPS) - Sharply increased attacks on U.S. and other NATO personnel by Afghan security forces, reflecting both infiltration of and Taliban influence on those forces, appear to have outflanked the U.S.-NATO command’s strategy for maintaining control of the insurgency.

Seeing Afghanistan Differently than the Occupiers See It

Plans by the U.S. to maintain a Special Forces occupation of Afghanistan until 2024 are being severely tested. But only press from other countries reports what the two main reasons why the people of Afghanistan demand that U.S. forces just leave are:  • Continued aerial bombing by NATO/US forces. Sunday, NATO claimed it killed 45 "insurgents" in an airstrike in a remote province east of Kabul. But villagers brought the bodies of 8 women, including a girl 10 years old, to the governor's office. They were shouting "death to America.  They were condemning the attack," said an Afghan official, according to Agence France Presse.  How many times has this happened in almost 11 years?  The U.S. NATO commanders dismiss it as necessary "collateral damage." People who are allegedly being "saved" are expendable.

Mr, President, Why Is My Son in Afghanistan?

Anna Berlinrut
Maplewood, New Jersey

September 17, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

He's been in Afghanistan for two weeks, but I feel as though I've aged 10 years. This is my only son's sixth deployment in harm's way.

I was supposed to get together with friends Saturday night. But when I read that two more NATO troops were killed in Helmund Province in a green on blue attack, I cancelled my plans. Then I found out they were Brits. This morning I heard that four American troops were killed by Afghans in uniform. Another mother's son is dead. Not mine.

I don't understand why our troops are there. First we were told it was to destroy al Qaeda. But Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has not been in Afghanistan in large numbers in many years. They are now scattered around the world in many countries.

Rep. C.W. Bill Young Drops Staunch Support Of Afghanistan War: 'We're Killing Kids That Don't Need To Die'

From Huffington Post

A Republican congressman who has long been a staunch supporter of sticking with the war in Afghanistan is now changing course, arguing that the United States needs to pull out as quickly as possible.

"I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can," Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday. "I just think we're killing kids that don't need to die."

Young has consistently opposed even setting a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. In May 2011, an amendment requiring the president to present Congress "with a timeframe and completion date" for the war failed by just 12 votes, garnering the support of 26 Republicans. Young, however, was one of the ones who voted to kill it.

Young, who is chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, also told the Times that he believes many of his GOP colleagues now feel the same way he does, but "they tend not to want to go public." He added that when he's talked to military leaders about his views, he doesn't "get a lot of reaction."

The congressman said he came to his new position after talking with veterans over the past three months and hearing about what a "real mess" Afghanistan is in.

According to the Times, Young was particularly affected by the death last month of 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton, who attended the Christian school run by the church Young attends.

Before he passed away, Sitton wrote Young a letter about the problems in Afghanistan, including with the command structure and the fact that they were "being forced to go on patrol on foot through fields that they knew were mined with no explanation for why they were patrolling on foot."

Sitton died after stepping on an improvised explosive device.

Afghanistan: A weekend of carnage, an occupation in turmoil


   
    Stop the War Coalition
 17 September 2012
    Newsletter No. 1254
    Email: office@stopwar.org.uk
    Tel: 0207 561 9311
    Web: http://stopwar.org.uk
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/STWuk

IN THIS NEWSLETTER:

1) Afghanistan: A weekend of carnage, an occupation in turmoil
2) The anti-Islam video and blowback for western intervention

3) Going to university? Help build the movement in the colleges
4) The Media and War - Challenging the Consensus
5) Tenth anniversary of the largest demonstration in UK history

6) London activists meeting - September 26th

**************
1) Afghanistan: A weekend of carnage, an occupation in turmoil

A few days ago we were being told by UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond that progress was so significant in Afghanistan that the Ministry of Defence was accelerating the withdrawal of British troops. This weekend exposed the real situation. Nine NATO soldiers have been killed, including two British soldiers and two others at the high security Camp Bastion. The attackers at Bastion,  NATO's most secure encampment, caused massive damage including destroying six vital aircraft. The attack will be a terrible blow to the morale of the occupiers. If Camp Bastion is vulnerable, NATO is at risk everywhere. (SEE: Weekend of Carnage in Afghanistan by Lindsey German http://bit.ly/NxLCuP).

Sunday 7 October is the anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Stop the War is co-organising a Naming of the Dead ceremony with Afghans for Peace in Trafalgar Square. It will coincide with protests in the US and Canada and with the march for peace against drones being organised in Waziristan.

**************
2) The anti-Islam video and blowback for western intervention 

The outrage across the Muslim world at the 'Innocent Muslims' video insulting the prophet Mohammed should surprise no-one.

The video itself is a hateful act of provocation, but the worldwide response also reveals boiling resentment at the atrocities committed against Muslims by the west in country after country. Events in Libya put the lie to the Western narrative of a stable, democratic regime coming out of the Western intervention there. (SEE Killing of US ambassador in Libya is yet more blowback for western intervention: http://bit.ly/NxMU96)

But as Tony Blair's appalling interview on Radio 4's Today programme this morning showed, western leaders continue to believe in their right to intervene around the world in the name of 'progress'. At present there is a constant threat of an increased intervention in Syria, while Israel continues to push for an attack on Iran. (SEE Why is the deluded, self-justifying war criminal Tony Blair given airtime by the media? http://bit.ly/Rg1lRi)

Stop the War has organised an autumn campaign of public meetings around the country to protest against the drift towards more war in the Middle East. Check the campaign page for details of meetings near you: http://bit.ly/TPweKh.

NATIONAL RALLY IN LONDON
Syria and Iran: No to Western Intervention
Tuesday 9 October, 7pm,
The Venue, University of London Union,
London WC1 E7HY
Speakers include: Tariq Ali, Lindsey German and Sabah Jawad
Please share the Facebook event for this rally with your online contacts: http://on.fb.me/NxNBz6

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3) Going to University?  Help build the movement in the colleges

This September and October, Stop the War is organising more stalls at university freshers' fairs than for many years. For details see http://bit.ly/NxNWSp.

A number of unis have contacted us asking for help in setting up Stop the War societies. If you would like to get involved, please email office@stopwar.org.uk

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4) The Media and War - Challenging the Consensus

Day conference at Goldsmith's College - November 17
Stop the war is co-organising this event with the Centre for Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths University
Speakers include John Pilger, Peter Oborne, Seumas Milne, Michelle Stanistreet, David Miller, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chris Nineham and Rizwan Sabir. More details and publicity and how to reserve a place will be on the Stop the War website soon.

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5) Tenth anniversary of the largest demonstration in UK history

Stop the War is organising a conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the biggest global demonstrations in history that took place on the eve of the Iraq War on 15 February 2003. The conference will be held at Friend's Meeting House in London on Saturday 9 February 2013. Leading speakers from the movement in Britain will join with international guests to discuss the impact of the 'war on terror' and the priorities for the campaign against further wars.

**************
 
6) London activists meeting - September 26th

Westminster Quaker Meeting House at 7pm.
52 St Martins Lane
London WC2N 4EA
Two minutes from Leicester Square. Map bit.ly/TNc1Wu

This open meeting is to discuss preparations for our upcoming national events and building the campaign to stop a new war in the Middle East. All welcome. Facebook event http://on.fb.me/RCet2E

Peace Activists to Blockade Swan Island Military Base: A Stand Against Australia’s Continued Military Involvement

The Swan Island Military Base in Queenscliff will be targeted for a week of blockades and disruptive action as part of the annual Swan Island Peace Convergence. The act of resistance will be held September 23rd – 27th, and aims to hinder Australia’s continued military involvement in Afghanistan, demanding all troops to come home.

Reverend Simon Moyle, one of the event organisers, visited Afghanistan last year. He explained the reasons for the convergence by saying:

“The Australian Government wants the public to think that our involvement in Afghanistan ends with the withdrawal of Australian troops by 2014. This is not true. Gillard has said that Australian Special Forces will continue their deadly occupation of Afghanistan until the end of the decade at least. We’re saying that if they want to do that, they’ll have to go through us.”

“Australia’s alliance with the U.S. has dragged us into two disastrous wars in the last decade and is fuelling rising tension in the Asia Pacific. Australia needs to end the ANZUS alliance and develop cooperative relationships in our region”

Jess Morrison, a member of the convergence who works as a university lecturer, explains the group’s philosophy:

“We plan our protest with nonviolence at the core. This helps keep the event safe, and ensures we focus on the political change we want, not on the individual police or soldiers.”

“The last decade of Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan has fuelled fundamentalism and armed resistance. We listen to the voices of Afghan people who have had enough guns and bombs, of foreign soldiers breaking down their doors, and of war destabilising their country. We believe that all troops, including the SAS troops trained here in Swan Island, need to come home now and allow Afghans to start rebuilding their own country.”

The Swan Island Military Base is home to the secretive SAS unit SAS 4 as well as the ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service).
Last year’s event resulted in ten arrests. A larger turnout and more extensive blockade of the base are planned this year.

Failing the Test: Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett Must Go

 

By Dave Lindorff


Just because someone has the ability to do something, does not mean he or she should do it.


General’s Defence on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Sep 13 2012 (IPS) - Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the former commander of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, denied to a U.S. Congressional panel Wednesday that he had cited the impact on Congressional elections in opposing the timing of a request for an investigation of high-level Afghan military corruption and its impact on neglect of patients at the Afghan National Military Hospital (NMH) two years ago.

But Caldwell and his former deputy, Brig. Gen. Gary Patton, both made statements suggesting that Caldwell had indeed wanted to stop the investigation by the Department of Defence Inspector General (DOD IG) because it might give ammunition to opponents of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

We Are at War

By Johnny Barber

“We are at War. Somebody is Going to Pay.” George W. Bush, Sept 11th, 2001.

Eleven years later, we are still at war. Bullets, mortars and drones are still extracting payment. Thousands, tens of thousands, millions have paid in full. Children and even those yet to be born will continue to pay for decades to come.

On a single day in Iraq last week there were 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities, killing 111 civilians and wounding another 235. On Sept 9th, reports indicate 88 people were killed and another 270 injured in 30 attacks all across the country. Iraq continues in a seemingly endless death spiral into chaos. In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President, Obama claimed he ended the war in Iraq, well… not quite.

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