I’m listening to an MLK speech from 1967, where King says that the United States, at that point, had committed “more war crimes than almost any other nation.”
Add 44 years of invasions, CIA-engineered coups, and occupations, from Vietnam through Afghanistan. Add the development of weapons and training for modern counter-insurgency — night vision, drones, depleted uranium, cluster bombs — means that an even higher percentage of civilians are dying and suffering in these aggressive wars the U.S. pursues.
People, it’s time to put political opposition to these wars back on the map, in a mass, visible, and determined way. Veterans for Peace kicked off something very significant last December 16, with mass civil resistance at the White House, as Barack Obama gave his report on the war in Afghanistan. Leah Bolger, Vice President of Veterans for Peace, captured the mood in Failure to Obey a Lawful Order:
Although it is we who were treated like criminals—handcuffed, arrested and charged, we are not the ones ordering drone strikes or sending in troops. We are not the ones using illegal weapons and poisoning the earth. We are not the ones with blood on our hands. The real criminals continue unabated, shamelessly claiming that they are “making progress,” and unabashedly announcing that they plan to continue their crimes for many years to come.
The next nodal point for our efforts to STOP these wars is the anniversary of the Shock & Awe on Baghdad, March 19, 2003. A war begun on the basis of monstrous lies against a country weakened already by 15 years of sanctions, brought tremendous loss of civilian life.
Chris Floyd brings some of that home to us in A World in Flames: the Endless Echoes of America’s Atrocities where he continues his series on the American use of chemical weapons in the assault on Fallujah, just after George Bush was re-selected in 2004.
Even without the WMD, the attack itself was one of the most horrific events of the still-unfolding act of aggression in Iraq. Presented in the U.S. press as an old-fashioned, gung-ho, WWII-style “battle,” it was in fact a mass slaughter, largely of trapped civilians; almost all of the “terrorists” and “insurgents” in the city had long escaped during the months-long, oddly public build-up to the assault. It seemed clear that the intent was not to quash an insurgent nest, as stated, but to perpetrate an act of condign, collective punishment — primarily against civilians — in order to terrorize the rest of Iraq into submission…
Larry Everest, writing in Revolution, continues digging into the U.S. diplomatic cable releases in WikiLeaks Files Shine Light on U.S. Accountability for Torture in Iraq. One cable released in November shows
beyond doubt that the U.S. military in Iraq and the U.S.-controlled Iraqi army were given an official green light for the systematic use of torture, as well the cover up of those war crimes…The WikiLeaks files reveal that prisoners were also routinely burned with cigarettes, electrocuted, raped, and beaten with any available implement, such as steel rods, wire cables, television antennas, chains, water pipes, fan belts, and rubber hoses, as well as fists and feet. Some were executed.
Stepping out boldly in protest this March against this legacy is more important than ever. We know from our work that many people living in this country think the Iraq war is “over” because some troops were moved to Afghanistan, and the trail of dead U.S. military has slowed. The occupation, still 50,000 U.S. troops strong, with added combat capability of U.S. State Department troops, and tens of thousands of private contractors in 17 U.S. bases, is huge and permanent. Unless it is exposed and stopped by U.S. public opinion and action.
On the 8th anniversary of U.S. war on Iraq, we strengthen our demand to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and the secret bombing and black operations of Pakistan and Yemen.
In U.S. Raids: High Tech Terror in Afghanistan, Everest looks into what the U.S. diplomatic cables say about the US forces occupying Afghanistan. One example:
A January 19, 2009 cable describes the outcry after “at least six operations since mid-December” led to charges of “civilian casualties” and “wrongful detentions.” The cable also reports, “Two special operations missions in December 2008 in Arghandab district allegedly displaced up to 200 families, who fled to Qalat [a town of some 10,000 people and the capital of Zabul province].” (“WikiLeaks cables: Afghan elders threaten to display civilian victims’ bodies,” Guardian UK, December 3, 2010)
In case you missed the tremendously down-played Pentagon announcement, Obama just sent more troops to Afghanistan. Ken Theisen, in Obama Escalates War in Afghanistan
According to a story in the Wall Street Journal on January 6, 2011, President Obama is planning on a further escalation of the U.S. war of terror in Afghanistan. Obama’s “surge” will bring the total of U.S. forces in this war ravaged nation to almost 100,000. The Journal reports that, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan…”
Here are things you can do the next two months:
- March 17-19, that’s a Thursday through Saturday, will be protest days in Washington D.C., organized by the ANSWER Coalition, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, and other groups. Start making your plans now to mark that anniversary, in DC, or wherever you can be visible.
- There are high school students to reach out to. World Can’t Wait is putting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on tour, leading up to the anniversary, and has resources available now through the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.
- Troops are being deployed to Afghanistan all this spring. Don’t they and their families need to hear from us that they’re going to an illegitimate, unjust, immoral war, and they can resist!
- Drones are being manufactured and controlled around the U.S. Protests are ongoing against their use, and you can join them.
- Bradley Manning may be put before a military court in March 2011. Stay tuned for the ways in which you can support the person the U.S. charges as a whistle blower on these illegitimate wars of occupation.