Posts Tagged afghanistan
What a fascinating series of events here in NYC with Malalai Joya. She spoke to students at CUNY and NYU; at the UN, to anti-war activists, and in conversation with Eve Ensler of V-day.
“There are countless NGO’s in Kabul,” but Malalai spoke of the situation in Afghanistan as disastrous for women. Joya follows the stories of individual women, including young women raped, killed, and deprived of rights through a combination of religious superstition, war-time brutality, and subjugation to international empire. She refers constantly to the “justice-loving” people of the world, and to the people of Afghanistan as those she tries to represent.
Joya lays blame for this whole disaster with three sources: the Taliban, created by the U.S. in the 70′s; with the warlords supported first by the Soviet Union, and now by the U.S, and most importantly with the U.S. occupation which tends to reinforce the Taliban and the warlords. She calls them all enemies of the Afghan people, and says very strongly, the U.S. occupiers should “get lost” so that the Afghan people can struggle on their own for what kind of society they will have.
We heard some examples; of the massacre in Farah province, her home province, where 150 were killed by a U.S. airstrike, with evidence of the use of white phosphorous by the occupiers. “$2,000 bloody dollars is how they count a life,” referring to the payments by U.S. military to families. They urinate on corpses, and people are “fed up” with them.
A man in one of the audiences told me afterward of his experience in the U.S. military in Afghanistan, at a Forward Operating Base. A women had come begging at the gate to be let in and protected from family and villagers who wanted to punish and perhaps kill her for a real or imagined violation of tribal law. But the soldiers didn’t let her in, saying they did not want to piss off the tribal elders or get involved in local disputes. The man told me of his outrage at her situation, and his comrades’ reaction. If he would have been at the gate, he would have let her in and taken the consequences, but admitted that they general tenor of U.S. forces was not to protect the people.
At the same time, there is a big source for hope in the actions of people working for a just society. Specifically, she said, there are people collecting evidence of war crimes for future prosecutions by the International Criminal Court (of which the U.S. is not a member). Afghans want an end to the occupation, and, if they go from the frying pan into the fire after the U.S. leaves, “at least the corrupt puppet mafia regime in power won’t have U.S. to keep them in power any longer.”
Rodrigo Guim is making a film of Malalai’s life. See a clip here and support it.
The U.S. War on Afghanistan — I refuse to call it the “Afghanistan war” because Afghans didn’t start it — is now 12 years old. Longer than the official American war on Vietnam; it’s gone on half a generation, or more.
In 2001, on October 6 (a Sunday) George Bush announced the attack on Afghanistan. Some perceived the action as revenge for 9/11, though that was just a pretext for an action Rumsfeld, Cheney and other neo-cons had planned for years. On the morning on 9/11, Rumsfeld said it was time to “go massive.” “Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”
US destruction went massive, leaving one of the poorest countries in the world, already torn up by an occupation by the Soviet Union, with a brutal civil war between war lords, still impoverished, threatened by continued U.S. domination, Islamic fundamentalism, and the same warlords having been enriched by U.S. billions.
People born after 1990 don’t really remember a time when there wasn’t a US war on Afghanistan. Many people think the war is “over” or “ending” thanks to Obama.
Will it be over in 2014? What does “over” mean, and have any of the promises the US made come true for the people of Afghanistan?
We’ll talk reality, history, share what people think, and what plans we are making to stop this crime of our government. Register for dial-in info.
We’ve culled the comprehensive section on worldcantwait.net about Afghanistan. These articles paint a picture that no NATO or U.S. general can successfully cover over with words about “winning hearts and minds.”
Kathy Kelly, Afghanistan: The Ghost and the Machine
Glenn Greenwald, Another Afghan Family Extinguished by a NATO Airstrike
Kevin Gosztola, Reflecting on the Afghanistan War Logs Released by WikiLeaks
Larry Everest, Made in America: The Gardez Massacre
Six anti-war activists and leaders, aged 30 through 75 were sentenced on March 19 to eight hours “community service,” and $125 court costs for a disorderly conduct conviction arising from a protest 300 people made December 1, 2009, when Obama announced, inside the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a huge expansion of US troops to Afghanistan.
Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Tarak Kauff, Alison Beth Levy, and Richie Marini agreed to serve the time, washing Highland Falls, NY, ambulances and police cars, and pay the fee. Beverly Rice asked that she be able to send funds instead to the National Lawyers Guild, and when that was denied, she took jail time, on the basis of conscience. Her sentence was ten days at the Orange County jail, where she was taken immediately. The sheriff says Bev, 75, will be released early.
The case had gone on for more than 3 years. After one of two disorderly conduct convictions was overturned on a pro se appeal, a new judge delayed sentencing because court records were “lost” in Hurricane Irene. He then forced the defendants to appear two more times with an attorney before sentencing. The courtroom in Highland Falls was packed with mostly young people charged with traffic and other violations, at least one in an Army uniform. Everyone listened quietly as most of the defendants made pre-sentence statements to the judge.
Elaine Brower said she had been outside the gate at West Point to “petition my government” to stop the war. “My son did ten years in the Marine Corps, two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He has done horrible things” as part of the U.S. war on those countries. She said “I am seeing that injustice in the eyes of my son who is emotionally wounded.”
Elaine went on to say that “we have no recourse” to get the government’s attention except our legally permitted right to assemble. “They keep sending young men and women to kill. We protested at West Point when Bush was president, and we had to be there when Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan. And we’ll be here when the next president invades a sovereign nation. Humanity and the planet come first. Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them.”
Richie Marini’s statement included:
The United States has an incredibly violent history as we stand here today on land acquired through Genocidal means and can claim title to the only country to ever use an atomic weapon of mass destruction against another. The United States government continues down this trajectory of violence today with it’s use of torture, extraordinary rendition and drones that murder innocent civilians every day. It commits these violent acts to sustain itself by creating new markets, obtaining resources and enslaving people into it’s system in order to prevent itself from collapsing at the expense of innocent lives abroad…
Despite the penalties imposed upon me here today I will continue to work effortlessly to organize the citizens of Highland Falls and elsewhere to put stop the crimes of this government. As an Humanitarian, this is the greatest service that I can do for the citizens of Highland Falls, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere… Read more
Bev Rice said she would not apologize for the protest:
A total of 2177 American soldiers have been killed during the eleven years we have been fighting in Afghanistan.
1230 have been killed since we were arrested three years ago? How many more have been wounded? How many more have been sent home suffering emotional and mental illnesses? Consider, 22 veterans commit suicide each day! Consider also the sorrowful loss for the family and friends of our dead and wounded soldiers. I consider these each and every day.
I am proud to have been involved in the protest, and to have participated in the defense of the West Point Six. We need more people willing to speak the truth, and put themselves on the line to stop the crimes of our government.
A NATO helicopter killed two children herding cattle. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Toor Jan, 11 years old, and Andul Wodood, 12, had been walking behind their donkeys in Oruzgan Province when the helicopter fired on them, Afghan officials said. The two donkeys were also killed.
General Dunford said that coalition forces thought they were firing on insurgent forces, and killed the boys by accident.
More “collateral murder,” not mediated by a NATO apology.
The response of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, reported by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, was to say “we are those 2 Children,” and to find donkeys, make signs, and take to the public square to protest the killings.
If children can make this protest under conditions of war and great deprivation, what does that challenge us to do?
One man is as the center of a story you can’t avoid in the media, since last Friday. General David Petraeus, architect of the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, pulled in to “save” Afghanistan, then bumped over to the CIA last year, was forced to resign because the FBI, we are told, found out about an affair he was having with a fawning biographer.
The other story is one you could barely find until days ago, despite the subject being a soldier who allegedly killed 16, including nine Afghan children, on March 11 last year near Kandahar. Robert Bales, an Army Staff Sargent, is said by the Army to have gone on a rampage in two villages, and is facing a court martial involving the death penalty.
Those in charge of U.S. national security are reeling, though you can hardly find a word of criticism for General Petraeus, save his admitted “indiscretion.” He’s said to be a national hero, and somehow even more of one, since he “sacrificed” his career and resigned.
This is completely outrageous. Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone led to the firing of General McChrystal in Afghanistan has also been following Petraeus for years. He writes that in Afghanistan:
The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over. Everyone is paying for their sins. (And before we should shed too many tears for the plight of King David and his men, remember, they’ll be taken care of with speaking fees and corporate board memberships, rewarded as instant millionaires by the same defense establishment they served so well.)
David Petraeus ran two illegitimate, unjust occupations, the whole Central Command, and now the CIA. Adultery is surely the least of his crimes.
Bales, who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably was driven nuts, as his lawyers assert. His crime is a horror, as we saw from testimony linked into Fort Lewis over the last few days from victims in Afghanistan. The AP reports:
The stories recounted by the villagers have been harrowing. They described torched bodies, a son finding his wounded father, and boys cowering behind a curtain while others screamed, “We are children! We are children!”
The actions of both of these men represent the real face of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and they need to be thoroughly investigated, with the aim of keeping criminals like this away from people they could kill.
This is the talk I gave in Madison two weeks ago at the Veterans for Peace Memorial Day Commemoration:
I am so glad to be here in Madison, and to appreciate what Madison has brought us, including the 1967 Dow Chemical protests against Napalm, and the 2011 uprising against Walker. The Veterans for Peace chapter in Madison is so active. I saw many of you last week in Chicago, protesting US/NATO war crimes. Todd Dennis and others did an inspiring action last Sunday by throwing their medals, won in the illegitimate, unjust, immoral US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, back at the NATO Summit. I am proud of Iraq Veterans Against the War for the content of their message, and for the way many of them spoke of the damage to the people of those countries.
After almost 11 years of US war on Afghanistan, I’ve had people say to me recently, “at least President Obama is ending that war.” Of course, he isn’t doing any such thing. It was Obama who vastly expanded the war on Afghanistan in 2009 to 150,000 troops. It’s the US/NATO forces under which the “surge” brought about the biggest loss of Afghan civilian life of the war, during the last year. It’s Obama and Afghan President Karzai who just signed an agreement to keep US forces in Afghanistan until 2024, or another 12 years at least.
This was the war that had to be fought to “save” the Afghan people, according to the Bush regime. In 2001, Afghanistan was the second most dangerous country on the globe for a woman to give birth. In 2011, it was the MOST dangerous country for a woman to give birth – it had the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. And this past winter brought reports of dozens of children under 5 freezing to death in coalition-sponsored refugee camps, while the U.S. has sent tens of billions of dollars to fund the occupation.
Out of this comes the U.S. drone war, now fully directed and justified by the Obama administration. Since 2009, Obama has increased the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – drones – by 8 times more than the Bush administration in Pakistan. Drones are now fully a part of the US war-fighting plan, so much so that the US Air Force is now training more pilots of un-manned vehicles than of fighter-bomber planes. These pilots are based around the world, and within the US, controlling the surveillance and armed drones at 18” from the action on their screens. Of the two US drone programs, the one run by the CIA is probably the larger – the budget is secret – and employs civilian pilots.
The argument from The Pentagon is that drones can “surgically target” insurgents. You have people in the Obama Justice Department who criticized George Bush for doing what they now defend Obama for doing. In fact, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks US drone strikes in Pakistan, has found that at least 175 children have been killed, and hundreds of people not involved with Al Qaeda or any local insurgent group. In fact, the U.S. military defines people as insurgents merely by the fact that they’ve been killed in a drone strike. Most alarmingly, there are repeated and growing examples of strikes coming in series, killing groups of rescuers and mourners. There is no hiding from the drones; they have sophisticated surveillance technology, including heat sensors that can see through walls. Buildings and bodies are obliterated.
So that’s what the US drone war is. But, as terrible as the use of drones is, it doesn’t change anything about US wars of empire. They are still illegitimate, immoral, unjust. And they are most damaging to the people they target; secondarily, they have mostly destroyed the lives of the one million U.S. military who have been used to fight them. The U.S. drone wars — now in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and they used drones in Libya – are the newest technological development in the United States effort to spread an unchallengeable empire, no matter who the president is.
The problem for those of us trying to end these wars is that too many people living in this country go along with these crimes carried out in our name, thinking that their interests are the same as those in power. World Can’t Wait says, “Humanity and the Planet Come First – Stop the Crimes of Our Government.” We say this in recognition of the damage causes by these now endless wars, the system of indefinite detention that is part of the wars, and in recognition that American lives are not more important than other lives.
Join us in working to end the crimes of our government, and in a sending a message to the people of the world that there are people here who say, NO, not in our name!
One of the joys of traveling to speak is meeting the people at the other end of e-mail, as I did in Madison this past weekend at the Veterans for Peace Memorial Day commemoration. In addition to putting up a “Memorial Mile” of thousands of tombstones marking U.S. deaths in Iraq & Afghanistan, they had an anti-war contingent in the official city parade where they reported strong crowd support. At the afternoon commemoration, they made a point of reading names of Afghans killed in the U.S. War on Afghanistan.
Yesterday in Madison, and before that, over more than a week of protesting NATO in Chicago, I heard similar responses from people working against U.S. wars when I asked what questions they encounter from the public. We find lots of people against the war in Afghanistan, but not willing to criticize the Democrats, or Obama, for expanding it. One woman said “I need help answering when people say ‘Give Obama more time.’”
One way to go at that question is to challenge people with what the Obama administration has done. In April 2010, the Crimes are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them statement began that work:
In some respects, this is worse than Bush. First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention.” Third, the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use such lethal force and extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.
Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report makes the point that Obama is not the “lesser of 2 evils,” but “the more effective evil.” Revolution provided concrete examples of Six Ways Obama has been Worse than Bush, including assassinations on Presidential order; blaming youth for their own oppression; threatening war on Iran; more deportations of immigrants; escalating drone war and persecuting whistle-blowers.
Update May 8: “On Tuesday, city officials notified National Nurses United that they were ordering nurses to accept new, less visible, locations for the protest, under threat of cancelling a long approved permit for the public event – even though the G-8 leaders will now be 700 miles away from Chicago on that date in the backwoods of Camp David, Md.” At a press conference Wednesday, “NNU will outline a legal challenge to the city’s demand and discuss other plans responding to the city’s move” (from a press release from National Nurses United regarding the suppression of their planned May 18 protest in Chicago against the NATO Summit).
The NATO International Security Force, which we all know is actually led by the U.S. military, killed a woman and her 5 children in an airstrike in southwestern Afghanistan Sunday, and then yesterday expressed “regret” for what they call their “mistake.”
Military tribunals, the crowning achievement of a US system of indefinite detention and torture aided by and including NATO member countries, and which defense attorneys assert are rigged by the U.S. to assure the execution of 5 men in Guantánamo, have begun, in the process of continuing the unending U.S. war on terror.
U.S. drone strikes, halted briefly because of protest from the government of Pakistan (presumably a sovereign country) began again last week, killing 4 people in a school. Of course these victims were called insurgents; everyone killed by U.S. drones is a militant, by definition. NATO is now a major purchaser of U.S. drones, and has a vast role in aiding the covert U.S. strikes.
The most heavily armed empire in world history occupies and has destroyed whole countries, has a system of indefinite detention and torture in place, and is expanding secret military operations across the region.
But according to this empire, the biggest danger to peace is some hundreds or thousands of people protesting the Chicago meeting of the NATO military alliance next week? According to the purveyors of war crimes, the people decrying the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are the ones to fear and lock up, while the war-makers and torturers are given even more power to war critics into criminals?
Public opinion is being prepared for this criminalization. The Chicago press has featured reports on plans to evacuate Chicago because of “unrest;” on the deployment of National Guard troops to quell protests; on plans to reopen a closed prison in Joliet to house arrested protesters; on heavily armed federal teams sweeping through the central city; on closing down the public transport system in the city; and more.
Despite the measures which Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s former White House enforcer, wanted in place against protest, a well-publicized battle was successful in getting a permit for the march on Sunday May 20 at Grant Park. With the removal of a long-held permit to march on Friday May 18 by National Nurses United, the City is trying to force protest further away from city center, supposedly because rocker Tom Morello will be performing at their rally.
No matter how they parse the words of the First Amendment, what the federal authorities (who are the ones running the show in Chicago) are doing is criminalizing protest in advance. As they did at the Republican Convention in St. Paul in 2008; at the G-20 in Pittsburgh in 2009; in response to the Occupy movement, they are putting measures in place that will sweep up people who are assembling and speaking based on the content of our protest message. The message to the general public is that protest should be feared, not a system that perpetrates war crimes and mass denial of civil liberties.
We state clearly and publicly, in advance: It’s right to protest the crimes being carried out in our name, in public space, near the NATO meeting. We protesters are not the endangering the people; the danger to humanity is a system which uses police-state measures to back up war crimes. The following measures are in place, or have been proposed:
* Sending arrested protesters to an old prison in Joliet.
The idea was then ditched, as the place is falling apart (To Joliet jail for NATO offenders? Sun-Times, Apr 28, 2012).
“Another contingent of guard troops will conduct a large-scale domestic response drill outside Cook County during the summit weekend, ready to provide support in the event of any problems in Chicago, said Maj. Troy Scott, deputy director of domestic operations for the Illinois National Guard.”
“CBS News has obtained a copy of a Red Cross e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area. It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”
According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone. “Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said (accompanied by picture of demonstrators amidst flames, who knows where…).
* Vague Speculation about “Unrest” Concerns about NATO Summit Violence Leave Chicago Guessing CBS News reported on April 29:
“There also are reports that a heavily armed security team will start making a very public appearance around federal buildings in the Loop this week. Officials with the Chicago NATO host committee were completely in the dark. They had no reports of any such plans. A source told CBS 2 that security forces in full battle gear would not be seen this week.”
“The FAA says private planes may be shot down if they fly within ten nautical miles of downtown Chicago during the summit. The only planes allowed will be commercial passenger and cargo carriers, and police and military aircraft.”
* Surgical strikes against anyone in protests who “crosses the line” beyond First Amendment activity… as defined by the Secret Service?
“Police will embrace “First Amendment activity,” she told the building managers, and will surgically deal with those who cross the line into vandalism. She was asked how many demonstrators could arrive in Chicago who aren’t now part of a permitted group.
“If I had that crystal ball, I’d be solid,” she said.
Many building managers said that overall they were relatively satisfied with the level of information they are getting and are willing to trust the police and federal authorities to keep things under control.
“I understand they haven’t got everything figured out yet,” said Wes Stoginski, assistant engineer at a building on 13th Street near the Illinois Central rail line. But Stoginski also said he knows where the variables are.
“You can’t legislate against lunatics,” he said.”
(This is the only somewhat oblique reference I could find to the CPD extraction technique of arresting the people they see as leaders, which they did at the mass March 20, 2003 arrests. The civil suit by NLG based on those arrests was just settled for $6.2 million to demonstrators. In the pre-trial discovery, that technique was documented.)
“In a memo titled Operation Red Zone, the protective service said the increased security will be extended throughout the South Loop area often referred to as the federal complex. It includes the Kluczynski Federal Building, the U.S. Dirksen Courthouse and the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Several buildings just east on State Street are also in the so-called red zone.
“The memo notes there have been no specific or credible threats at federal facilities ‘related to terrorism by international terrorist organizations’ but that the area around the complex will be ‘directly and indirectly’ affected by protests in the days before and after the summit.”
An irony acutely felt this week:
Tens of thousands of people in the U.S., taking the lead from millions in the Middle East, are “occupying” public spaces, seeking change in the the world as it is, standing up to authority, power, and blowing the ceiling off expectations that the vast disparity in global income “has to” be as it is. We’ve got to spread these occupations!
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military, support staff and private contractors are “occupying” two countries in the Middle East, in a mission to enforce, with a vengeance, U.S. domination over the region, employing night raids, torture, and terror towards the civilian population. We’ve got to end those occupations!
We marked the 10th anniversary of the Bush regime’s bombing and invasion of Afghanistan last week, with protests across the U.S. which were in many cases intermingled with the Occupy Wall Street protests, and in all cases influenced by the outpouring of public anger at the system.
Significantly, a protest in Kabul by Afghans demanded the occupiers leave.
paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.
Detainees — and we’ve known this since November 2001, when the U.S. first set up operations at an old Afghan prison in Bagram — are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness. Because of the Obama administration’s successful argument that the prisoners are not entitled to habeas corpus rights, they have no way out.
This is in no way a departure from all the rest of the Bush war crimes begun 10 years ago. The NY Times, which editorially opposes torture, while supporting the wars in which the U.S. uses it, said today
such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials and whether they benefited from information obtained from suspects who had been tortured….There have been a number of instances that raise similar questions in other places, including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and El Salvador, according to a RAND Corporation report in 2006.
This systematic abuse must be working for the United States government. According to Glenn Greenwald, the Obama administration
unveiled plans for “the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan” which includes “detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees.” It will also feature “guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems.” The announcement provided: ”the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000.”
This occupation won’t be ended by Obama, or any presidents to follow him, unless people in this country demand it.
Raise your voice! January 11, 2012, we’ll be back in Washington on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, marking it with a protest/human chain of 2,200 people. We’ll stand for the 171 prisoners in Guantanamo, with no way out, and the 2,000 some at Bagram, with no legal standing. Join in!