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"Why Are We in Afghanistan?" Debuts at US Labor Against the War Conference

Why Are We In Afghanistan? Trailer from Why Afghanistan? on Vimeo.

"Why Are We in Afghanistan?" Debuts at US Labor Against the War Conference By John Braxton

I just returned from the US Labor Against the War Assembly in Chicago, December 4-6. There were lots of high points, including the fact that oil workers from the U.S. got together with the heads of the oil unions in Iraq and Venezuela.

But for me the most exciting part was the release of a new 28-minute DVD entitled "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" I admit to being biased, as I participated in the early drafts of the DVD, but I think it will be a great tool for educating and mobilizing union members to oppose the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Education about the facts and the costs of the war was the number one item in USLAW’s Plan of Action; the hope is to show it at union meetings at all levels. There’s also a ten-minute version.

Links to video versions.

We have our work cut out for us. Many people who opposed the Iraq war are torn about the war in Afghanistan. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was and is a haven for Al Qaeda cells. "Why Are We in Afghanistan?" helps to answer these doubts. Click "Read more."

A Sharp Turn Toward Another Vietnam

A sharp turn toward another Vietnam
By George McGovern | Washington Post

As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam. After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again.

I was wrong. Today, I am astounded at the Obama administration's decision to escalate the equally mistaken war in Afghanistan, and as I listen to our talented young president explain why he is adding 30,000 troops -- beyond the 21,000 he had added already -- I can only think: another Vietnam. I hope I am incorrect, but history tells me otherwise.

Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all believed that the best way to save the government in Saigon and defeat Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Cong insurgents was to send in U.S. troops. But the insurgency only grew stronger, even after we had more than 500,000 troops fighting and dying in Vietnam.

We have had tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan for several years, and we have employed an even larger number of mercenaries (or "contractors," as they're called these days). As in Vietnam, the insurgent forces are stronger than ever, and the Afghan government is as corrupt as the one we backed in Saigon.

Why do we send young Americans to risk life and limb on behalf of such worthless regimes? The administration says we need to fight al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But the major al-Qaeda forces are in Pakistan. Read more.

From Hiroshima to Gaza

From Hiroshima to Gaza
By Hisae Ogawa

The first time I met and had a chance to talk to Palestinian women was back in 1975, the United Nations International Women’s Year. I was then working for the Women’s International Democrat Federation (WIDF), one of the Non-Governmental Agencies accredited by the United Nations.

WIDF’s head office was in East Berlin, the capitol of the German Democratic Republic. It had over 100 member groups all around the world and representatives that were called “secretaries” were sent from more than ten countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. At the time the General Secretary of WIDF was from Argentina and the President was from Australia. It was indeed an international place. But at the same time I was so disturbed to see the East Berliners suffered lack of freedom due to the wall dividing the city.

One of my co-workers was a young girl from Iraq. She was working hard trying to cover the whole issues in the Middle East. From her I learned what was happening in the Middle East.

It was through her that I got to know the Palestinian issue and made friends with Palestinian women. One day she brought some women from Palestine to the WIDF office. They were touring Europe to publicize their plight. They said Israel was doing the same things to Palestinian people as the Nazis had done to the Jewish people during the World War II.

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

The U.S. (and Britain) began bombing the Afghan capital of Kabul on October 7, 2001 with Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and submarines and bombs dropped from warplanes and shortly thereafter American special forces began ground operations, a task that has been conducted since by regular Army and Marine units. The bombing and the ground combat operations continue more than eight years later and both will be intensified to record levels in short order.

The combined U.S. and NATO forces would represent a staggering number, in excess of 150,000 soldiers. By way of comparison, as of September of this year there were approximately 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and only a small handful of other nations' personnel, those assigned to the NATO Training Mission - Iraq, remaining with them.

"Secretary Gates has made clear that the conflicts we're in should be at the very forefront of our agenda. He wants to make sure we're not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing....For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business."

Over the past ten years citizens of the United States and other Western nations, and unfortunately most of the world, have become accustomed to Washington and its military allies in Europe and those appointed as armed outposts on the periphery of the "Euro-Atlantic community" engaging in armed aggression around the world.

Wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and lower profile military operations and surrogate campaigns in nations as diverse as Colombia, Yemen, the Philippines, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Ossetia and elsewhere have become an unquestioned prerogative of the U.S. and its NATO partners. So much so that many have forgotten to consider how comparable actions have been or might be viewed if a non-Western nation attempted them.

Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo after Being Cleared for Release Since As Long Ago As 2003 Ask SC to Set Them Free


Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo after Being Cleared for Release Since As Long Ago As 2003 Ask Supreme Court to Set Them Free | Press Release


"To the founders of this republic, freedom was a national conviction. Today neither the President nor the Congress has the courage of that conviction. We urge the Court to remind us all of our ancient trust, and at last set these men free."

December 4, 2009, New York – Today, attorneys asked the Supreme Court to allow seven men who remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay despite being cleared for release to be released into the United States when there is no other remedy available. The men, Uighurs from the East Turkestan region of China, are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Bingham McCutchen LLP, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Miller & Chevalier, Baker & McKenzie LLP, Reprieve and Elizabeth Gilson.

This will be the first time the Court hears a Guantánamo case since it decided the landmark cases brought by CCR and co-counsel, Boumediene v. Bush, in June 2008, and the first time the Obama administration will defend a Guantánamo case before the high court.

Said Sabin Willett, of Bingham McCutchen, lead attorney for the Uighur detainees:

"Today we have asked the Supreme Court to free Uighur clients who now pass their eighth year in the Guantanamo prison. The courts and the Defense Department have said they are neither enemies nor criminals. They fled from communism, and were taken in error. Companions live in Europe and Bermuda, and yet we imprison them still. These men are a living rebuke to America’s boast to be a freedom-loving people.

US Naval Intelligence Views Iran's Naval Forces

U.S. NAVAL INTELLIGENCE VIEWS IRAN'S NAVAL FORCES
By Steven Aftergood | Secrecy News

A new report (pdf) from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence describes Iran's naval order of battle, as well as the Iranian Navy's history, strategic options, and favored tactics.

"Today, Iran's naval forces protect Iranian waters and natural resources, especially Iran's petroleum-related assets and industries. Iranian maritime security operations guard against the smuggling of illegal goods (especially drugs) and immigrants, and protect against the poaching and stealing of fish in territorial waters."

"Additionally, Iran uses its naval forces for political ends such as naval diplomacy and strategic messaging. Most of all, Iranian naval forces are equipped to defend against perceived external threats. Public statements by Iranian leaders indicate that they would consider closing or controlling the Strait of Hormuz if provoked, thereby cutting off almost 30 percent of the world's oil supply."

The unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment was published on the Office of Naval Intelligence website, but last week it was abruptly withdrawn, along with another ONI report on China's navy. A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Iran's Naval Forces: From Guerilla (sic) Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy," Fall 2009.

Bill Moyers Journal: LBJ's Path to War

Bill Moyers, of PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, began this week's program this way:

Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama's mind. He is apparently, about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another president, Lyndon B. Johnson.

I was 30 years old, a White House Assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam. He had been thrust into office by the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963-- 46 years ago this weekend. And within hours of taking the oath of office was told that the situation in South Vietnam was far worse than he knew.

Less than four weeks before Kennedy's death, the South Vietnamese president had himself been assassinated in a coup by his generals, a coup the Kennedy Administration had encouraged.

South Vietnam was in chaos, and even as President Johnson tried to calm our own grieving country, in those first weeks in office, he received one briefing after another about the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia. Read the transcript, watch the videos.

Missile Defense on the Peace Island

By Bruce K. Gagnon, globalnet@mindspring.com

I just got home from 3-weeks in South Korea. It was quite a trip.

During my last two days I was visiting Jeju Island (about 500 miles south of the Korean peninsula) which is recognized by UNESCO as being a place of world class environmental quality and one that hosts many endangered forms of corals and other sea life. To say it is a jewel would be an understatement.

Nabucco: Pipeline Politics


Nabucco: Pipeline Politics
Azerbaijan could scuttle the Nabucco pipeline over the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement, Brian Whitmore writes for RFE/RL.
By Brian Whitmore for RFE/RL | ISN

Azerbaijan could scuttle the Nabucco pipeline over the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement, Brian Whitmore writes for RFE/RL.
By Brian Whitmore for RFE/RL

Azerbaijan has apparently decided to play its energy card.

As much of the world applauded Turkey's historic rapprochement with Armenia last week, Azerbaijan felt left out in the cold and abandoned by its closest ally.

Baku had argued strenuously that a deal to reestablish relations between Ankara and Yerevan should not be signed while Armenia continued to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh, and it threatened to take unspecified countermeasures if one was.

Speaking at a nationally televised cabinet meeting on October 16, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev revealed one of those steps: "It is not a secret to anyone that for many years Azerbaijan has been selling its gas to Turkey for one-third of market prices."

Aliyev added: "What state would agree to sell its natural resources for 30 percent of world market prices, especially under current conditions? This is illogical."

Aliyev presented the move as a purely commercial decision and did not explicitly link it to the Turkish-Armenian deal. Azerbaijan currently sells Turkey natural gas at the bargain rate of $120 per thousand cubic meters. But the timing of Aliyev's announcement, less than a week after the accord between Yerevan and Ankara was signed, left little doubt.

If Baku follows through on the move, analysts say it could severely undermine - if not completely kill - the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline project to bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey.

"Potentially this is very important because it could potentially deliver a knockout blow to Nabucco. Without Azerbaijan it would be even more difficult than it is," says Federico Bordonaro, an energy-security analyst with the Italian-based group equilibre.net. Read more.

Hey DC! Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam: Exposing Official Lies, This Wednesday Evening, 10/21, American U.

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, IRAN, IRAQ, VIETNAM: EXPOSING OFFICIAL LIES

Where: Ward Circle Building, Room 2, American University

When: Wednesday, October 21 at 8:10 pm

Who: Keynote Speaker:

Col. Larry Wilkerson (USA, ret.) Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell during the critical period from August 2002 until January 2005; Served as Army officer for 31 years;

Recipient of 2009 Award from Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Additional Speakers:

Daniel Ellsberg, Former Defense and State Department official who released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, for which he was put on trial facing a possible sentence of 115 years; Author, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers; Subject of newly released documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” which he was called at the time by Henry Kissinger

Coleen Rowley, Former Special agent and legal counselor, Minneapolis FBI, who called the FBI director's attention to serious flaws that might have prevented 9/11; Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2002; Sam Adams Award Recipient, 2002

Craig Murray, Former U.K. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who exposed the use of torture, declaring, "I would rather die than have someone tortured in attempt to give me more security." Sam Adams Award Recipient, 2005

Ray McGovern, Veteran CIA analyst, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President's Daily Brief under Nixon, Ford, and Reagan; Co-founder Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS); Colleague of Sam Adams

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History; Director, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute; Co-writer (with Oliver Stone) “Secret History of the United States” (forthcoming on Showtime)

Agent Orange in Vietnam: Ignoring the Crimes Before Our Eyes

By Dave Lindorff

On Oct. 13, the New York Times ran a news story headlined “Door Opens to Health Claims Tied to Agent Orange,” which was sure to be good news to many American veterans of the Indochina War. It reported that 38 years after the Pentagon ceased spreading the deadly dioxin-laced herbicide/defoliant over much of South Vietnam, it was acknowledging what veterans have long claimed: in addition to 13 ailments already traced to exposure to the chemical, it was also responsible for three more dread diseases—Parkinson’s, ischemic heart disease and hairy-cell leukemia.

Under a new policy adopted by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the VA will now start providing free care to any of the 2.1 million Vietnam-era veterans who can show that they might have been hurt by exposure to Agent Orange.

Japan's Election and Anti-Nuclear Momentum

By Lawrence S. Wittner
Editor: John Feffer, Foreign Policy In Focus

Although the smashing victory of the opposition Democratic Party in Japan's parliamentary elections of August 30 had numerous causes, one of the results will be a strengthening of the campaign for a nuclear weapons-free world.

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan's Ultimate Opera

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan's Ultimate Opera | TomDispatch.com

Back before email, a world traveler who wanted to keep in touch and couldn't just pop into the nearest Internet café, might drop you a series of postcards from one exotic locale after another. Pepe Escobar, that edgy, peripatetic globe-trotting reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, has been doing just that for TomDispatch readers as he explores the geography that undergirds our civilization, the pipelines that crisscross Eurasia through which flow energy -- and trouble. This, then, is his third "postcard" from what he likes to call Pipelineistan. The first in March began laying out a great, ongoing energy struggle across Eurasia via an embattled energy corridor (and a key pipeline) that runs from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey -- and the Great Game of business, diplomacy, and proxy war between Russia and the U.S. that has gone with it.

In May, he plunged eastward into tumultuous Central and South Asia and the devolving battleground that, in Washington, goes by the neologism AfPak (for the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations). Now, he heads west toward Europe and another developing struggle, this time over just how natural gas from the Caspian Sea will reach Europe. Think of this as a story that lurks under so many other stories. For instance, this very day, the representatives of Russia, Germany, China, France, Britain, and for the first time, the United States, will be sitting down with Iran's representative in Geneva for what's billed as an historic exchange. On the table -- and in global headlines -- will be the Iranian nuclear program, a

previously secret Iranian nuclear site, Iranian medium-range missile tests, sanctions of various sorts, the possibility of future attacks on that country's nuclear establishment, and so on. What won't be in the headlines, or the accompanying reams of analysis, is the approximately 15% of the world's natural gas deposits Iran controls. As it happens, for the Europeans and the Russians (and so for Washington), that's the story hidden under the Iranian imbroglio, which is why we need Pepe Escobar. Tom

Jumpin' Jack Verdi, It's a Gas, Gas, Gas
Iran and the Pipelineistan Opera
By Pepe Escobar

Brussels -- Oil and natural gas prices may be relatively low right now, but don't be fooled. The New Great Game of the twenty-first century is always over energy and it's taking place on an immense chessboard called Eurasia. Its squares are defined by the networks of pipelines being laid across the oil heartlands of the planet. Call it Pipelineistan. If, in Asia, the stakes in this game are already impossibly high, the same applies to the "Euro" part of the great Eurasian landmass -- the richest industrial area on the planet. Think of this as the real political thriller of our time.

The movie of the week in Brussels is: When NATO Meets Pipelineistan. Though you won't find it in any headlines, at virtually every recent NATO summit Washington has been maneuvering to involve reluctant Europeans ever more deeply in the business of protecting Pipelineistan. This is already happening, of course, in Afghanistan, where a promised pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India, the TAPI pipeline, has not even been built. And it's about to happen at the borders of Europe, again around pipelines that have not yet been built.

If you had to put that Euro part of Pipelineistan into a formula, you might do so this way: Nabucco (pushed by the U.S.) versus South Stream (pushed by Russia). Be patient. You'll understand in a moment. Read more.

Another Santayana Moment

22 SEP 1979, 00:53 GMT -- US VELA SATELLITE 6911, SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DETECT NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS, REPORTS DUAL FLASHES OF LIGHT INDICATING A NUCLEAR DETONATION IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC.

The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.

An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.

Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?

Wikipedia

Nuclear Weapons Archive

George Washington University

But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.

Proxy Wedding Means Marine's Widow, Baby Unwelcome

Proxy wedding means Marine's widow, baby unwelcome
By Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press | Yahoo! News

Hotaru Ferschke just wants to raise her 8-month-old son in his grandparents' Tennessee home, surrounded by photos and memories of the father he'll never meet: a Marine who died in combat a month after marrying her from thousands of miles away.

Sgt. Michael Ferschke was killed in Iraq in 2008, leaving his widow and infant son, both Japanese citizens, in immigration limbo: A 1950s legal standard meant to curb marriage fraud means U.S. authorities do not recognize the marriage, even though the military does.

Ferschke and his bride had been together in Japan for more than a year, and she was pregnant when he deployed. They married by signing their names on separate continents and did not have a chance to meet again in person after the wedding, which a 57-year-old immigration law requires for the union to be considered consummated.

"She is being denied because they are saying her marriage is not valid because it was not consummated — despite the fact that they have a child together," said Brent Renison, an immigration lawyer in Oregon who has advised the family. Read more.

US Says 6 Powers Accept Iran's Offer To Talk

US says 6 powers accept Iran's offer to talk
By Robert Burns, Associated Press | Washington Post

The United States and five partner countries have accepted Iran's new offer to hold talks, even though Iran insists it will not negotiate over its disputed nuclear program, the State Department said Friday.

Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that although Iran's proposal for international talks - presented to the six powers on Wednesday - was disappointing for sidestepping the nuclear issue, it represented a chance to begin a direct dialogue.

"We are seeking a meeting now based on the Iranian paper to see what Iran is prepared to do," Crowley said. "And then, as the president has said, you know, if Iran responds to our interest in a meeting, we'll see when that can occur. We hope that will occur as soon as possible."

In its proposal, Iran ignored a demand by the six world powers - the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - for a freeze of its uranium enrichment, which is suspected of leading to production of a nuclear weapon. Iran insists that its nuclear work is strictly for peaceful non-military purposes.

Iran pronounced itself ready to "embark on comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations." Read more.

Coordinator Trip Report - Japan & South Korea

Coordinator Trip Report - Japan & South Korea
By Bruce Gagnon | Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

...former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev...told an anti-nuclear conference in Rome last spring, "In the final analysis, the nuclear danger can only be removed by abolishing nuclear weapons. But could one regard as realistic the prospect of one country retaining the quantities of conventional weapons that exceed the combined arsenals of practically all other nations - the prospect of one country achieving absolute global superiority? Unless we address the need to demilitarize international relations, reduce military budgets, put an end to the creation of new kinds of weapons and prevent weaponization of outer space, all talk about a nuclear-weapon-free world will be just inconsequential rhetoric."

This trip report covers the period of July 22-August 23 as I traveled to Japan and South Korea for my longest and most successful speaking tour ever.

ElBaradei Foes Leak Stories to Force His Hand on Iran

ElBaradei Foes Leak Stories to Force His Hand on Iran
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS News

Western officials leaked stories to the Associated Press and Reuters last week aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.

The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear programme, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003.

The story by Reuters United Nations correspondent Louis Charbonneau reported that "several" officials from those states had said the IAEA has "credible information" suggesting that the U.S. intelligence estimate was "incorrect".

The issue of credibility of the NIE is particularly sensitive right now because the United States, Britain, France and Germany are anticipating tough negotiations with Russia and China on Iran's nuclear programme in early September.

The two parallel stories by Charbonneau and Associated Press correspondent George Jahn in Vienna, both published Aug. 20, show how news stories based on leaks from officials with a decided agenda, without any serious effort to provide an objective historical text or investigation of their accuracy, can seriously distort an issue.

Reflecting the hostile attitude of the quartet of Western governments and Israel toward ElBaradei, the stories suggested that ElBaradei has been guilty of a cover-up in refusing to publish information he has had since last September alleging that Iran has continued to pursue research on developing nuclear weapons. Read more.

Chinese Assassination Squads (Satire)

Chinese Assassination Squads (Satire)

To: Leon Panetta, Langley HQ
From: Operative 650, Shanghai office
Re: Memo XE1250

Leon:

I just received the memo on the latest Blackwater scandal. Talk about embarrassing! Why did we outsource assassination to those bozos? Remember in 2006 when a Blackwater guy, drunk as a skunk, killed the Iraqi vice president's bodyguard? And we were going to deputize these trigger-happy Rambos to take down America's Most Wanted? I wish we could simply put all the blame on the last administration. But we're still shelling out millions to the company to provide "security" in Iraq.

Look, if we're going to outsource, we should outsource to the experts. The Chinese. They make our clothes. They make our computers. Heck, they even supply the components for our weapons systems. Why not give them the task of assassinating jihadists?

Here are the top five reasons to go with the Chinese:

William Calley Apologizes For My Lai Massacre

William Calley apologizes for My Lai massacre
By Dick McMichael | Ledger-Enquirer.com

William Calley, the former Army lieutenant convicted on 22 counts of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, publicly apologized for the first time this week while speaking in Columbus.

“There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”

In March 1968, U.S. soldiers gunned down hundreds of civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. The Army at first denied, then downplayed the event, saying most of the dead were Vietcong. But in November 1969, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed what really happened and Calley was court martialed and convicted of murder. Read more.

China's Secretive Military Launches Web Site

China's Secretive Military Launches Web Site
By Associated Press | ABCNews.com

China's Defense Ministry launched its first official Web site Thursday, part of an effort by the normally secretive military to be more transparent.

The launch of the site — including an English version — comes as the U.S. Army's top general visits Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterparts. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey was to visit the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army on Thursday and meet PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde.

A notice on the Web site said it is "designed to let the outside world have a better perception of China's national defense policy."

"Help enhance foreign exchanges and cooperation, (and) display before the world the fine image of the PLA as a mighty, civilized and peaceful force," it said.

The site will also help China's drive to modernize its military, it said. Read more.

China Warns Of 'Arms Race In Outer Space'

China warns of 'arms race in outer space'
By Associated Press | Google News

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called Wednesday for international diplomacy to avert an "arms race in outer space."

Space should be reserved for peaceful purposes, Yang told the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

"Outer space is now facing the looming danger of weaponization," he said. "Credible and effective multilateral measures must be taken to forestall the weaponization and arms race in outer space."

China and Russia have been vocal advocates of a global treaty against space-based weapons and argue for this to be included in future Conference of Disarmament negotiations.

The United States has dismissed the criticism as designed to block its plans for a missile interceptor system — while leaving untouched Chinese and Russian ground-based missiles that can fire into space. Read more.

My Book Is Now Available from Publisher Before Stores Get It

"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.

Corporate Responsibility—Products for War and Occupation or Products for Peace

Corporate Responsibility—Products for War and Occupation or Products for Peace
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat

In America, we don’t have many companies that fund peace activities. Most American companies seem to be more interested in making money off war.

In contrast, I am on a three week speaking tour in Japan sponsored partially by Leila, a peace, social and environmentally-conscious women’s cosmetic company. Wishing to make a major contribution to women’s peace initiatives, in 2000, Leila established the Women’s Peace Fund to be used to invite women peace activists to the annual World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the yearly Japan Mothers’ Congress, where 10,000 women meet from all over Japan. Leila donates one yen (one cent) for each cosmetic product sold to the fund).

In 2008, the fund also sponsored international women activists to attend the Worldwide Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution-Renunciation of War, which was undermined by the Bush administration’s pressure (and continued by the Obama administration) for Japan’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Japan’s constitution. I was honored to be an international speaker at the 2008 conference on the importance of Article 9 to Japan and to the world. The New Japan Women’s Association (NJWA) or Shinfujin administers the funding provided by Leila and invites international guests to speak at these events. Over the past ten years, women from the Philippines, South Korea, Canada, China, Kazakhstan and the United States, as well as women representing international organizations have been invited to speak on issues of peace, anti-militarization of Asia and the Pacific and nuclear disarmament. From the United States, members of the 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, United for Peace and Justice, the Women’s International League for Peace, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Abolition 2000 have spoken in Japan under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Fund.

Resistance to Our Empire in South Korea

By Bruce Gagnon

I began the day by joining a news conference and protest at the headquarters that is in charge of the joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States that began today. The exercise, called 2009 Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), is the world's largest computerized command and control war game which mainly focuses on a US-South Korea attack and occupation of North Korea. The exercise was initiated in 1976 and is conducted annually in late summer.

There were about 40 activists at the event from many of the key peace and reunification organizations. I was asked to speak for five minutes as part of the news conference. US military helicopters were circling overhead and US-South Korea military personnel drove in and out of the base in a steady stream.

Politicizing Ethnicity: US Plan To Repeat Yugoslav Scenario In Caucasus Could Cause World War

Politicizing Ethnicity: US Plan To Repeat Yugoslav Scenario In Caucasus Could Cause World War
By Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO

Matthew Bryza has been one of the U.S.'s main point men in the South Caucasus, the Caspian Sea Basin and Central Asia for the past twelve years.

From 1997-1998 he was an advisor to Ambassador Richard Morningstar, coordinating U.S. efforts in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as in Southeastern Europe, particularly Greece and Turkey. Morningstar was appointed by the Clinton administration as the first Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Assistance to the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union in 1995, then Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy in 1998 and was one of the chief architects of U.S. trans-Caspian strategic energy plans running from the Caspian Sea through the South Caucasus to Europe. Among the projects he helped engineer in that capacity was the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan [BTC] oil pipeline - "the world's most political pipeline" - running from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea.

Trans-Caspian, Trans-Eurasian Energy Strategy Crafted In The 1990s

In 1998 Bryza was Morningstar's chief lieutenant in managing U.S. Caspian Sea energy interests as Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, where he remained until March of 2001, and he worked on developing what are now U.S. and Western plans to circumvent Russia and Iran and achieve dominance over the delivery of energy supplies to Europe.

Morningstar later became United States Ambassador to the European Union from 1999-2001 and this April was appointed the Special Envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, a position comparable to that he had occupied eleven years earlier.

In 2005 the George W. Bush administration appointed Bryza Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Condoleezza Rice, a post he holds to this day although he will soon be stepping down, presumably to become the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, the nation that most vitally connects American geostrategic interests in an arc that begins in the Balkans, runs through the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and then to Central and South Asia.

Concern over the US military's Guam build up

By ABC Radio Australia

A retired US army Colonel and diplomat has told Guam residents she's concerned about the planned American military buildup.
She says the movement of 8,000 marines, and 34,000 support staff and dependents will increase the population by 25 percent, creating a population explosion the island can't accommodate.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Ann Wright, retired US army Colonel and diplomat
LISTEN HERE.

Ann Wright Goes to Guam, Chips Away at Empire

Ex-envoy warns against US plan for Guam

A FORMER U.S. diplomat turned peace activist advised Guam residents to be wary of the American government’s military buildup plan for the island.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright speaks against war and militarization during a presentation held Monday at the University of Guam. Photo by Jude Lizama/Variety

 “We need to be looking very carefully at what our federal government does to us,”  said Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel who spoke to a small crowd on the implications of the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam during a presentation held Monday night at the University of Guam.

“While we all want to be safe and secure in the world, sometimes our federal government uses this issue of national security to do things to us that we normally wouldn’t put up with,” she added.

Wright accompanied members of the Code Pink Japan, a peace activist group, who visited Guam to discuss the impact of the military buildup with local activists. The group left Guam yesterday.

Military Escalation: From Afghanistan To the Caspian Sea and Central Asia

Military Escalation: From Afghanistan To the Caspian Sea and Central Asia
Largest ground combat operation since the Vietnam War.
by Rick Rozoff | Scoop Independent News

The Pentagon and its NATO allies have launched the largest combat offensive to date in their nearly eight-year war in South Asia - Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword) with 4,000 US Marines, attack helicopters and tanks and Operation Panchai Palang (Panther's Claw) with several hundred British engaged in airborne assaults - in the Afghan province of Helmand.

The American effort is the largest ground combat operation conducted by Washington in Asia since the Vietnam War.

Other NATO and allied nations have also boosted or intend to increase their troop strength in Afghanistan, with German forces to exceed 4,000 for the first time, Romanian troops to top 1,000 and contingents to be augmented from dozens of other NATO member and partner states, including formerly neutral Finland and Sweden.

The US, NATO, NATO's Partnership for Peace and Contact Countries and other allied nations - states as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Macedonia - have some 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, all under the command of America's General Stanley A. McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and a counterinsurgency master hand. The Afghan-Pakistani war theater resembles the Vietnam War in more than one manner.

The US troop contingent has nearly doubled since last year, more than quintupled in five years, and will be in the neighborhood of 70,000 soldiers by year's end.

Concurrent with the ongoing offensive the US has fired missiles from aerial drones into Pakistan in the two deadliest strikes of the type ever in that country, killing 65 and 50 people in two recent attacks.

Large-scale government military operations on the Pakistani side of the border, coordinated with the Pentagon through its new Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell and with NATO through the Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission, have uprooted and displaced well in excess of two million civilians, the largest population dislocation in Pakistan since the 1947 partition of British India. Read more

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