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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

2 Million Friends: A New Approach in Afghanistan

By Johnny Barber

Four decades of war.  Two million people dead. Trillions of dollars spent. Money disappearing into the pockets of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, policemen and the armed forces. No accountability. No transparency. No infrastructure. The misery and poverty of the majority of the people continues unabated, decade after decade.  Children freeze to death in the winter. They starve to death all year round. The question remains, “Who benefits from this misery?” The human cost of war doesn’t enter into any politician’s calculations.

In October 2011 Secretary of State Clinton emphasized a new three-track strategy of “Fight, talk, and build,” claiming to “pursue all three tracks at once, as they are mutually reinforcing.” One year later, it is clear that the 3rd Afghan strategy of the Obama administration can be added to the scrap heap of failed strategies along with the “Af-Pak” strategy and the “Surge”. No one is talking, nothing is being built, fighting is the only track that continues unabated. Security, even in Kabul, is tenuous. Peace seems a distant and illusory concept.

On Sunday, September 2nd, the Afghan Peace Volunteers held a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan to introduce a new strategy, called the “2 Million Friends” initiative. Built on a foundation of hope and goodwill, this initiative calls on ordinary citizens of all countries to join with ordinary Afghan citizens, who are tired of corruption, hatred and war, to be friends. When asked about the role of international people, Roz Mohammed, a young man from Midan Wardak replied, “The international people are just like us, ordinary people who want to work with us for peace.” The wish is for 2 million friends, in remembrance of each of the 2 million Afghan victims of 40 years of war in Afghanistan, to join together and appeal for peace. 2 million friends to tell our respective governments, "Enough! We wish to live without war."

Farzana, ‘2 Million Friends’ and a Ceasefire in Afghanistan

by Hakim and Kathy Kelly

“Stop fighting,” suggests Farzana, a brave 22 year old Afghan stage actress.

Significantly, her statement is in sharp contrast to what seems to be the democratic world’s unquestioned modus operandi of today, exemplified by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pet-phrase for Afghanistan, ‘Fight, talk and build.’

What Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers are sensibly suggesting is a ceasefire.

A ceasefire, like the ceasefire called for in Kofi Annan’s Six Point Peace Plan for Syria which Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers also supported, is a first step towards ending the equally sectarian war and incendiary global politicking in Afghanistan.

It is crucially needed to stop the color-code chaos of ‘green-on-blue’ attacks in which 45 coalition security forces, mainly Americans, have been killed by ‘allies’, Afghan security forces or insurgents posing as soldiers or police.

It is what is needed to end the four Afghan decades of using mutual killing as a method of conflict resolution. The U.N. is uniquely well-positioned to do this, empowered by their original Charter to ‘remove the scourge of war from future generations,’

Imagining a better world

Farzana suggests to Hillary Clinton and to us that we take the ‘fighting’ out of our desire to ‘talk and build.’ “To fight is to resort to convenient and rather primal instincts. To fight is to lose our human imagination,” states Farzana.

And imagination is what Farzana employs in the artistic world she thrives in, to communicate to the world that Afghans are human beings who prefer to laugh and cry than to live with wars.

Recently, Farzana was part of a group of Afghan stage actors and actresses who toured India, London and Germany to perform Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ in Dari, one of two official Afghan languages.

Farzana, in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors

“When I express the whole range of emotions on stage, I enter awareness, and a thrilling consciousness of human reality. Acting to me is my life and existence; I can never give up this sweet, sweet world. This world is similar to my everyday life; life in Afghanistan today is like a constant limp on a hurting leg. There’s definite pain, but this other world I express on stage is sweet. This better world is possible.”

Farzana’s pain was evident recently when criticisms from some conservative and religious Afghans were leveled at her costumes and her portrayals in the Shakespearean play. But Farzana has a quiet courage to transform the status quo, to introduce creativity into conventional norms.

As an Afghan woman, she also protests the conventional understanding of women’s rights in Afghanistan. You can watch Farzana, who is an Afghan Peace Volunteer, saying in this video clip, “It is just rhetoric that men and women have equal rights. Actually, there are no women’s rights. People speak against women. They say it’s a sin to hear a woman’s voice or for a woman to go on the road, or to hear her steps. Women are considered ‘faulty.’ Their heads are ‘beaten.’ It’s a sin to see the hair on their heads. They’re seen as sinful. What is left for a woman that she should still participate in building society?”

Farzana speaks clearly against the U.S./NATO military strategy, “Why do the women of the world believe that guns and bombs which kill can promote women’s rights in Afghanistan?”

The fear that the gains in women’s rights in Afghanistan over the past 11 years will be ‘reversed’ when U.S./NATO troops withdraw is not based on facts.

The limited and cosmetic gains in women’s rights in Afghanistan have not been introduced by bullets from U.S./NATO’s guns, so the reduction of U.S./NATO troops will not compromise these initial gains.

Moreover, as many as 20,000 U.S./NATO troops will be authorized to stay for another 10 years beyond 2014 when a U.S. Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement is agreed upon within the next year. The Obama administration has already ensured the continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in Article number 6 of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement which states that ‘Afghanistan shall provide U.S. forces continued access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014, and beyond as may be agreed in The Bilateral Security Agreement, for the purposes of combating al-Qaeda and its affiliates, training the Afghan National Security Forces ( who are shooting back at them!), and other mutually determined missions to advance shared security interests.’

Where are Afghan women’s rights in this strategy?

On March 14, 2011, the Washington Post featured Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s article, ‘In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women's rights as it eyes wider priorities’. Chandrasekaran recently made waves with his description of ‘the war within the Afghan war’ in his new bookLittle America. In his 2011 article, he quoted a senior U.S. official who said, “Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. There's no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down."

What the senior U.S. official was saying was, “Women’s rights? We have higher, ‘front-seat’ priorities. Women’s rights are ‘pet rocks’ that are ‘taking us down.”

‘Be friends, talk, and build’

 “If you want to talk and build, it is impossible to start by fighting. When you kill a human being, what is there to build?”

“I have a pain and my husband and fellow Afghan citizens, men and women, share the pain with me. It is the pain of being treated as less than humans. We are human beings. We have wishes. War has brought this pain on us. War kills our joy and hides our tears.”

“I dream that war will end in Afghanistan someday, so Afghans will exercise their right to live, study and work. Fighting brings hate and vengeful thoughts and feelings. I wish that the Shakespearean play could be performed in Afghanistan someday, though there’s concern that there’ll be trouble.”

Part of Farzana’s dream for the war to end will be enthusiastically pursued through the ‘2 Million Friends’ campaign for peace in Afghanistan, a campaign of Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers to find ‘2 Million Friends’ around the world to organize activities on December 10 calling for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and in remembrance of the 2 million Afghan victims of war they have lost over the past four decades. You could ‘Be One of 2 Million Friends’ in signing a Petition to the U.N. to negotiate for a multilateral ceasefire in Afghanistan. No more killing!  

Farzana calls out to our compassionate imagination, “Instead of fight, talk and build, I suggest, ‘Be friends, talk and build!’”

 Dr. Hakim ( weeteckyoung@gmail.com) mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com)

Kathy Kelly ( kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

How to Survive in a Perfect Mess

 

By John Grant


When we talk about
settling the world’s problems,
we’re barking up the wrong tree.

The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.

We Don’t Need No Bloody Treaties: Britain Blows a Fuse over Ecuador’s Asylum Grant to Wikileaks’ Assange

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The concerted and orchestrated campaign to capture Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and ultimately to hand him over to the tender mercies of a kangaroo court in the US, where he would likely be tried for spying and other possibly capital offenses, continues as Britain threatens the Ecuadoran Embassy with a police assault.

 

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


Stand together as friends of 30 million Afghans

By Hakim and Kathy Kelly

Here is a simple, reachable step towards peace in Afghanistan: build international relationships by befriending the Afghan Peace Volunteers Ali and Abdulhai and bringing their forgotten, alternative voices of non-violence to the United States - support their U.S. visa re-applications.

Ali and Abdulhai hope for ‘2 Million Friends’

Brave Young Afghan Peace Workers Denied Visas to Speak in U.S., Please Write/Call

Many of you remember the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPV), a remarkable group of young people in Afghanistan who are working to create a peaceful future, through the teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and others.  You may have been on, or heard of, the monthly Global Conference Calls for Peace, which has connected thousands of like-minded youth and activists around the world to discuss a vision of a world without war.  Guests of the Conference call have included Noam Chomsky.  Now two of the youth,Abdulhai and Ali, both 15, have been invited to speak to young peace activists and others in the US.

America a Democracy? Really?

By Dave Lindorff

This article was originally written forPressTV

We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here? 

Mission Failure: Afghanistan

A Message Written in Blood That No One Wants to Hear
By Tom Engelhardt

http://tomdispatch.org

Imagine for a moment that almost once a week for the last six months somebody somewhere in this country had burst, well-armed, into a movie theater showing a superhero film and fired into the audience. That would get your attention, wouldn’t it? James Holmes times 21? It would dominate the news. We would certainly be consulting experts, trying to make sense of the pattern, groping for explanations. And what if the same thing had also happened almost once every two weeks in 2011? Imagine the shock, imagine the reaction here.

Well, the equivalent has happened in Afghanistan (minus, of course, the superhero movies). It even has a name: green-on-blue violence. In 2012 -- and twice last week -- Afghan soldiers, policemen, or security guards, largely in units being trained or mentored by the U.S. or its NATO allies, have turned their guns on those mentors, the people who are funding, supporting, and teaching them, and pulled the trigger.

Afghanistan Needs Trees, Not Troops

Inline image 1

Trees are the lungs

of the earth

Dear Friends,

At Afghanistan Samsortya, we directly address the challenges of environmental degradation, recognizing that a healthy environment is crucial for economic and social well-being.

As a grassroots organization directly involving communities in revitalization work, in 2009 we raised funds to establish a nursery that has now produced thousands of tree saplings. In 2011 we drilled a well to supply water. In February, 2012 we began our third season, continuing to plant fast growing species – like the Moringa oleifera, known as the “magic tree” because its leaves are edible by animals and people, and support lactation.

In response to requests, we were also able to distribute fig and lemon saplings to 100 households in the Surkhrud district of Ningrahar Province. Our fig trees bear fruit year round and provide an important source of nutrition. We are happy to report these trees are already thriving, and that our revitalization efforts have been well received by the local population!

We are optimistic that despite the extreme level of environmental degradation, Afghanistan’s natural environment can be revived and rehabilitated. We now have tree nurseries in Surkhrud in Eastern Afghanistan and outside of Jalalabad City. Our most recent accomplishment is the conversion of a new four-acre plot into a nursery. We will use this nursery to plant, nurture, and harvest thousands of fig, lemon, orange and mulberry trees in the coming years.

How is this possible, and how can you help? Financial contributions combined with land and seed donations make us able to continue our reforestation projects.

Soft Necks Will Not Be Slaughtered

by Hakim and Kathy Kelly

Abdulhai remembers his father being killed by the Taliban. “Anyone who takes up a weapon in revenge, whether the Talib or any other, is acting like the Talibs who murdered my father,” he says, in a matter of fact way. “The solution does not lie in taking revenge, but in people coming together like the people of Egypt to defend themselves in a nonviolent way.”

Nine people gathered this morning for an unexpected although welcome meeting here in Kabul, in the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, at which Raz Mohammed, a member of the group who is from Wardak province, had arrived along with a fellow student, named Rohullah. The meeting included Tajiks, Hazaras and one Pashtoon. We were surprised and pleased to see our good friend.

Abdulhai, a Hazara, washing a quilt with Raz, a Pushtoon,at their community home.

Speaking Events

2015

May 30 NYC here and here and here

August 27, Chicago

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