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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.


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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