Posts Tagged iraq

Telling the truth vs. the election game

It’s election time, and our problem, as people who care about humanity, is not that the Democratic Party is likely to lose big at the polls. Our problem is that the crimes of our government continue under the Democrats, and far too few of the millions in this country who know this are acting to stop these crimes by independent, mass action.

Case: October 2nd. As thousands of people streamed towards the One Nation Working Together rally at the Lincoln Memorial, they saw a bright orange banner with the words “War Crimes Must Be Stopped – No Matter Who Does Them!” In the crowd of union workers, teachers, and progressive minded people brought to Washington by the NAACP and unions, they might have just nodded agreement, or shaken their heads at the mugshot of George Bush on the banner.

World Can't Wait at One Nation Rally

World Can't Wait at One Nation Rally

But next to the image of Bush on that banner is a mugshot of Barack Obama. This stopped many hundreds of people to take photos and gather around. The World Can’t Wait supporters, some wearing orange jumpsuits to symbolize the indefinite detention and torture still going on at Guantanamo, distributed thousands of flyers detailing a few of the war crimes in 2010, and struggled ably and with persistence, over what the facts are. Some who stopped agreed that the image was truthful, shaking their heads over how disappointed they are with the Democrats. But, of those who stopped, more disagreed, and some were disbelieving or angry at the comparison. “You can’t say that about Obama! Obama wouldn’t do any of those things! You should have been out here when Bush started it! You’re just helping the Tea Party!”

Case: October 7th: On the ninth anniversary of the day the Bush regime sent US forces to invade Afghanistan, World Can’t Wait ran an ad in The New York Times. “Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them!” it said, “End the silence of complicity,” with three examples from 2010 of how the Obama administration is “in some respects, worse than Bush:”

“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.”  The ad was signed by an impressive list including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Cindy Sheehan, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, and Roseanne Barr.

When World Can’t Wait ran seven full page ads in The New York Times and USA Today during the Bush years, calling for a mass movement to “Drive Out the Bush Regime,” the response was strong and immediate, with hundreds calling, donating and volunteering. Then, the campaign and election of Barack Obama sucked in much of the leadership and base of the mass anti-war movement. The effect of that has been to demobilize, confuse, and silence many. We knew this ad would get a different response, but also, we know that a minority of that movement is really deeply angry to the point of feeling betrayed by Obama. So we expected that the appearance of such a message in The New York Times would polarize and challenge readers, drawing a strong response.

We did this statement, and continue to push out with its content because:

People have been lied to, and are not paying attention. Many people don’t get the truth from mainstream media. World Can’t Wait puts priority on going out to people way beyond the “movement,” so we know that huge numbers of people are bombarded in the media with everything but the truth about the crimes of our government. From National Public Radio to every commercial network, magazine and blog, people get a version of the “official story” which leaves out what the US is really doing in the world. The destruction of Iraqi and Afghani society is systematically portrayed as “bringing democracy.” The photos from Abu Ghraib, which many people vaguely remember from 2004, were never fully released, nor was the story followed. The Obama administration refused to release the rest of those photos in 2009, because they had such a devastating effect on people’s opinion of the legitimacy of the US occupation of Iraq. So, people who don’t seek out the reality tell us things like, “Obama’s for peace. He ended the war, and closed Guantánamo.”

Willful “ignore-ance.” A donor to the ad wrote that she has “very few friends left” because of her criticism of Obama as not bringing change for the better. “I can’t tell you how much it means to mean to know there is a group espousing what I have been saying to my 250 people email list since right after Obama was elected and I noted who he was putting in his administration. Your ‘Crimes are Crimes…’ is the sad reality that so many do not want to face which I see as the reason for the lack of a real movement at the moment.”

I am reminded of what Bob Avakian, the revolutionary communist leader, writes about the problem of people “living in the house of Tony Soprano,” not wanting to know how all the “goodies” in the house were acquired. In that case, Avakian says, we have a responsibility to challenge them:

“There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.”

Noam Chomsky, in a video on why he signed the Crimes are Crimes statement, referenced Judge Robert Jackson’s writing in the Nuremberg principles on war crimes, and put the challenge this way: “The principle of universality holds whatever the scale of the crimes, those who rightly condemned the crimes of George W. Bush should be judged by history and by their own consciences by how well they apply the same principles to his successors.”

The “politics of the possible” preclude any criticism of Obama, because he’s being attacked from the right. Even people who are very critical of the Obama administration and the Democrats repeat the mantra that if the Democrats “lose” Congress, things will be “worse.” This is not a “spontaneous” response, by the way. In the last 24 hours, the Obama campaign has sent out mass emails urging people to “get into the game” to “fight as hard as we ever have” against “special interests who want to put their conservative allies in control of Congress.”

OH NO! Like, the war in Afghanistan might be expanded; Guantánamo won’t be closed; the government’s powers to spy on the people via the Patriot Act and FBI raids would increase? Threats to Iran, support for the deadly siege on Gaza, subsidies to major banks would flow while 15 million people are out of work? There might be NO progress on stopping global warming? “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will stay in effect? The Supreme Court would find corporations are people entitled to give election money, but not people who can be held liable for human rights atrocities? All that might happen if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are replaced with Republicans?

The situation is so much worse than that. The Democrats have firmly united behind the illegitimate so-called “War on Terror,” and have done terrible crimes based on the conferred “legitimacy” of the first African American president. And the right-wing threat is not from “special interests” but from a hard core of the ruling class who challenge even the legitimacy of Obama as president, and are seeking to remake the cohering norms of US society with a program of aggressive war on the world, racist attacks on immigrants, suppression of the rights of the people to unfettered capitalism, Christian theocracy, and suppression of science, all of which the Democratic Party capitulates and will not fight because they basically agree. The right has a mobilized, armed, racist base, in the form of the Tea Party movement, which is scary. And they have the political initiative. The problem isn’t that people don’t want to stand up against the Tea Party – it’s that they are being told to seek common ground and terrible compromises with that reactionary agenda.

Many people, in that crowd of people who attended the “One Nation” rally are deeply shaken and frustrated that the change they worked for in 2008 not only didn’t happen, but things are worse. What they got at the rally was speaker after speaker telling them that the “protest march” they came to make against the Tea Party – and also against the Obama policies that haven’t brought they change they hoped for – will only happen on November 2 when they “march” to the polls. Clearly, the Democrats didn’t want that rally to happen, as almost no politicians participated, but still, people were led to come begging from a party that wants them only to shut up and get out the vote.

Expecting change through the framework of elections when the game is rigged is delusional. It’s the same old trap every two years. Get in the game?? When the Democrats are out of power, it’s “get us back so we can deliver change”, and when they are in power, it’s the threat of how much worse it will be if they lose. This is not the game we need to be in.

“Worse” than under Bush? Many people still active against the wars and torture point out that, if McCain had ordered an expansion of the war in Afghanistan, there would have been much more visible protest. As the Crimes are Crimes statement puts it, “Such measures by Bush were widely considered by liberals and progressives to be outrages and were roundly, and correctly, protested. But those acts which may have been construed (wishfully or not) as anomalies under the Bush regime, have now been consecrated into “standard operating procedure” by Obama, who claims, as did Bush, executive privilege and state secrecy in defending the crime of aggressive war.

A woman wrote to thank World Can’t Wait for getting the Crimes are Crimes message “past the gatekeepers of the mainstream press.” In describing why she donated to the ad, she explained that, as a progressive, she had voted for Obama, even though she knew he wouldn’t bring change. But, it’s worse than she expected. “Instead of surrounding himself with progressives, he surrounded himself with reactionaries. Instead of looking for creative ways to disengage our country from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he relied on good old-fashioned ways to keep those wars going with American troops as “advisers” and mercenaries as contract killers. Worst of all, perhaps, as you point out, is his refusal (and that of Nancy Pelosi) to bring to justice those who lied to us about WMDs and who finalized the unleashing of greedy corporate monsters on the world, an unleashing begun under Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush and his accomplices are murderers but instead of the harsh punishments dealt out to street thugs, they have been richly rewarded for their criminal acts.”

One ad does not make a movement, nor does one voice, nor a series of protests. But the importance and achievement of hundreds donating, and thousands signing this statement appearing in the “paper of record” has to be appreciated for the strong statement of principle that it is – and then we need to go out and amplify this message. This is the time for fearless truth-telling, on a bigger stage, and more visibly.

If people don’t know what their government is doing – or think the problem is that Obama’s a socialist, the immigrants are taking “our jobs” or such nonsense — we need to tell them, and not get quiet if they disagree. We need to show them Collateral Murder, important because it shows the US military killing Iraqi civilians and because soldiers have come forward to condemn those acts. We need energy and effort behind speaking the truth and mobilizing people to act on it, despite its popularity at any given moment. “History is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious.” Write to me with your thoughts and ideas for spreading this challenging message boldly – in the spirit of not silencing ourselves when people disagree.

World Can’t Wait is unique in saying in what we’re saying and in going out very widely to people with that message. We know there are people that agree and thank us for being willing to speak the unpopular truths that need to be said and to organize the protests, educational forums, and public statements like The New York Times ad, but there needs to be more of this. Those of you that do get it, those of you that were moved by the ad, who agonize over these continuing crimes, have a disproportionate responsibility to go out and change people’s minds.

There is much more to do. Funds are needed to print the Crimes are Crimes ad more widely, produce more DVD copies of Collateral Murder, and to webcast World Can’t Wait’s national broadcast of October 20: Stop the Crimes of Our Government: Collateral Murder & Targeted Assassination with Ethan McCord and Pardiss Kebriaei, and to bring veterans and activists with the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour to high schools.

Friday, October 8, 2010 the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a response to the Obama administration on behalf of Nasser al-Aulaqi, the father of Anwar al-Aulaqi, targeted for assassination by Barack Obama.  The administration argues for the dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds of “national security:”

“The government’s brief seeking the dismissal of this case runs to nearly sixty pages but can be summed up in a single sentence: No court should have any role in establishing or enforcing legal limitations on the executive’s authority to use lethal force against U.S. citizens whom the executive has unilaterally determined to pose a threat to the nation. The government has clothed its bid for unchecked authority in the doctrinal language of standing, justiciability, equity, and secrecy, but the upshot of its arguments is that the executive, which must obtain judicial approval to monitor a U.S. citizen’s communications or search his briefcase, may execute that citizen without any obligation to justify its actions to a court or to the public.”

History will judge our actions – or silence – in the face of this.

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The Newspaper of Record…and The Truth

Monday evening, Daniel Ellsberg was at The New York Times in a discussion with Times editors and reporters on the Pentagon Papers.  The evening was sponsored by POV, the PBS program which will air The Most Dangerous Man in America, the film about Ellsberg’s action, on October 5.

Max Frankl, who was in the Washington bureau of the Times in 1971, talked about the intense struggle within the Times on whether to publish the Pentagon Papers.  The paper’s outside lawyers were against publication, but courageous editors went ahead, making the history gripping.

The smugness of The Times’ position — “aren’t we fine to have done the right thing back then?” — was infuriating to some of us in the audience, given what they’ve done through the last 9 years in complaining about how the Bush and Obama administration have waged wars, but helping create legitimacy for them.

Dan challenged the Times on its responsibility, bringing up Wikileaks four times.  “We need a lot more of that!” he said, referring to the 2010 leaks of Collateral Murder and the Afghan War Diary.  “We’ll get to that,” said the Times Managing Editor.  But her only comments were about how hard the Times worked to vet the Wikileaks information.

The Times risked money, and perhaps could have been shut down by the Nixon administration when it published the Papers.  But Dan risked his life and a long prison term.  He thought the Papers might have “only a small chance of helping” stop the war, but considered the risk worthwhile.  He reminded us that he spent 22 months waiting on Congress to get the story out, his biggest “mistake.”  “Timing matters.”  If he had leaked what he knew in 1964 and 1965 when people in the military knew the Vietnam war was a disaster, and that the Gulf of Tonkin justification was a lie, “many deaths could have been avoided.”

Dan was very critical of the Times for sitting on the NSA spying story for a year, before printing it in late 2005.  But the Times representatives mainly would not go there, except to say there’s a “great burden of conscience” in having such information and knowing whether to publish it.  Dan pointed out that the burden functions to keep secrets “too well.”

We didn’t get to hear debate over the Times’ role in pushing the “official story” of the Bush regime on Iraq in 2003.  So much defense of imperialist wars…and so little time.

Matthis Chiroux, Janis Karpinski, and Ray McGovern, who have all taken  responsibility to end the wars and torture of the Bush regime, were in the audience.  Ray stood up for the first question.  He told the panel that, as of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, Iran has no nuclear weapons in production.  He asked the panel what an intelligence analyst should do if the 2010 Intelligence Estimate were to be cooked in the same way the NIE on Iraq was changed in 2003, paving the way for war.  Should that analyst leak the truth to The New York Times…or to Wikileaks?  The implication was clear, and again, the Times did not answer.

We were all seated together, and I told those around me of World Can’t Wait’s plans to publish Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them as a full page ad in the Times around the anniversary of the war on Afghanistan.  The longest running war in U.S. history, and getting bloodier.  You won’t hear it condemned by The Times.

But you should be able to read what many of us know to be true!

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Iraq War is Over But the Occupation is Endless

Sunday August 22, the Associated Press reported, “BAGHDAD — An American solider was killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military said, marking the first American fatality since the last combat unit in Iraq pulled out of the country.”

As the “last” combat brigade left Iraq, President Obama prepares to give a major speech this week.  He probably won’t claim victory; that would be laughable.  He will claim that the U.S. is taking responsible action, now that the Iraqis are ready to “step up” and run “their own” country.  This is the same plan the Bush regime had, but framed and re-branded, Obama-style, to cover  a thoroughly illegitimate occupation.

Jeremy Scahill said on Democracy Now earlier this month, that the combat role is shifting to the State Department which “has plans to remake some US bases into what they call ‘enduring presence posts,’ EPPs. And so, you’ll have these outposts around the country that are essentially—what is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning.”

But don’t think the military is really leaving.  General Ray Odierno, who’s in charge in Iraq, says they’ll stay or come back at the discretion of the administration.  More troops left Ft. Hood this morning, see below.

There are still 50,000 troops “advising” the Iraqi government which rules through US backing; the biggest embassy in the world ever; civil society in shambles, and no stability for the people.  Adil E. Shamoo, a professor of ethics, writes in What You Will Not Hear About Iraq, ” Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq…For the past few decades, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent.  Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers.”

Chris Floyd in The Peace Laureate’s Prayer: War Without End, Amen

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades …

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff. …

The Army selected brigade combat teams as the unit upon which to build advisory brigades partly because they would be able to retain their inherent capability to conduct offensive and defensive operations, according to the Army’s security force assistance field manual, which came out in May 2009. This way, the brigade can shift the bulk of its operational focus from security force assistance to combat operations if necessary.

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Stephanie Tang from World Can’t Wait joined anti-war veterans Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord on the Lettieri & Poole show, KGO Newstalk Radio (San Francisco) Saturday August 21, for a talk about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and WikiLeaks.

Josh and Ethan were in Iraq with Bravo Company 2-16, the unit whose Apache helicopter attack on civilians is now known to the world thanks to the Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video. Ethan is seen in that video, carrying a wounded Iraqi child to find a medic. After returning from Iraq, Josh and Ethan wrote An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People: From Current and Former Members of the US Military.

Listen/Download (36 minutes)

Scott Trent answers an article, “Eight things Obama has done to make the world a more peaceful place” with The Truth About Obama’s “Accomplishments” and the Need to Build a Mass Movement PDF

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Webcast: Anti-War Leaders and Veterans Respond to the WikiLeaks Revelations

Watch live streaming video from worldcantwait at livestream.com

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Obama Steps over the Line to Assassination First; Due Process Never

“In the past few weeks, it has become common knowledge that Barack Obama has openly ordered the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, because he is suspected of participating in plots by Al Qaeda.  Al-Awlaki denies these charges.  No matter.  Without trial or other judicial proceeding, the administration has simply put him on the to-be-killed list. ”

Graphic from New York Review of Books ad May 27 2010

So begins the text of a paid ad in The New York Review of Books May 27 issue which arrives on newsstands Thursday.  The statement, under the headline “Crimes Are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them” poses the challenges:

What would we have done if President George Bush had publicly ordered the assassination of a citizen?  And what should we do now as a fever pitch of media calls for the drones to “take out” Al Awlaki?

The New York Times went front page Sunday with a long profile titled “Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad.” The article covers al-Awlaki’s speeches and advocacy of ideas, providing no evidence that he’s committed crimes.  But this is the newspaper that front-paged Judith Miller’s reporting on Iraq having “weapons of mass destruction.”  I’m not convinced that because something  appears in the “paper of record” it’s either true, or that it should inform U.S. foreign policy.

My understanding of Obama’s order is that Al Awlaki is to be killed by whatever means necessary, wherever he is found, on sight, or within the scope of a drone or sniper’s rifle.  As in Eric Holder’s statement Sunday May 9 that the Obama administration’s effort to set aside Miranda rights in cases of interrogations of suspected terrorists is a “very big deal,” so is ordering the killing of someone suspected of a crime, but not convicted.

If the president is judge, jury, executioner, and there is no check, no appeal, what exactly protects people from being killed for any reason, speech, idea, or even un-uttered thought?

Glenn Greenwald wrote in February when this policy was first made public:

“it’s so dangerous — as well as both legally and Constitutionally dubious — to allow the President to kill American citizens not on an active battlefield during combat, but while they are sleeping, sitting with their families in their home, walking on the street, etc.  That’s basically giving the President the power to impose death sentences on his own citizens without any charges or trial.  Who could possibly support that?”

Post-colonial rebellions and uprisings around the world reached the U.S. in response to the American-backed, funded and organized assassinations of Patrice Lumumba; Salvador Allende; repeated attempts to kill Fidel Castro and countless abuses such that in 1976, after intense struggle in Congress on the Church Committee, Gerald Ford issued an executive order prohibiting such assassinations.  Under the Bush regime, and justifications of the so-called “Global War on Terror” international law, and U.S. laws, were set aside, but not as openly as they have been by the Obama administration.

One of the signers of the NY Review ad, Bill Quigley, wrote May 10 on Common Dreams, “Assassination of US Muslim Cleric is Illegal, Immoral and Unwise,”

“A simple committee of unelected individuals from one branch of government, no matter their subject matter expertise, should not have the power to assassinate an American citizen.”

Even FOXNews.com ran a piece, by Mohamed Elibiary, against the assassination order, It’s a Mistake to Assasinate Anwar Al-Awlaki. Elibiary warns the U.S. not to become identified historically with the Nasser regime in Egypt, which in 1966 executed Syed Qutb, as Islamic scholar, merely for his speech.

“The public perceived injustice, witnessing a military execution without any recognized due process inflicted upon a man for simply speaking and writing his mind. It led to the violent radicalization of tens of thousands.”

A comment on Facebook about the assassination order said, “The ease with which Obama did that, and the easy acceptance by the US public, is quite frightening.”  I agree.  Jeremy Scahill,writing in February:

There has been almost universal silence among Congressional Democrats on the Obama administration’s recently revealed decision to authorize the assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki.

That hideous war criminal Ronald Reagan once “joked” when he didn’t realize he was on a live mike, “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in 5 minutes.”  There was international condemnation.

On May 1, President Obama made news — but was not widely condemned as far as I’ve seen — for this “joke:”

Obama declared a warning to the Jonas Brothers, who attended the affair. “Sasha and Malia are huge fans but, boys, don’t be getting any ideas. I have two words for you: predator drones.”

This is the president who launched more predator drones into Pakistan and Afghanistan in one year than George Bush did in 8 years.  A week later, PressTV reported that 20 civilians had been killed in a drone bombing in Pakistan, saying,

A total of 300 people have so far lost their lives in 42 drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal belt this year.

I am proud of those who signed this ad, and all those who paid for it in advance of its publication.  Sign it yourself, and send your donations so this message can spread!  We should all be raising our voices to say “Crimes ARE crimes!  No matter WHO does them!”

Hundreds have signed already. Here are the signers appearing in the New York Review of Books ad:

Rocky Anderson • Edward Asner • William Ayers • William Blum • Fr. Bob Bossie • Elaine Brower • Matthis Chiroux • Noam Chomsky • James Cromwell • Carl Dix • Daniel Ellsberg • Jodie Evans • Hester Eisenstein • Donald Freed • Ann Fagan Ginger • Mike Gravel • Stephen Hays • Chris Hedges • Dahr Jamail • Kathy Kelly • Uzma Khan • Joyce Kozloff • Emily Kunstler • Sarah Kunstler • Dennis Loo • Peter McLaren • Ray McGovern • Ann Messner • Tom Morello • Tomás Olmos • Bill Quigley • Michael Ratner • Rev. Dr. George F. Regas • Mark Ruffalo • Cindy Sheehan • Jed Stone • Frank Summers • David Swanson • Debra Sweet • Sunsara Taylor • Cornel West • Andy Worthington • Ann Wright

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Marching in Protest of 7 Years US Occupation of Iraq

Protesting John YooSeven years of U.S. war and occupation of Iraq were marked with varied protests in the U.S. last weekend. There were more of us than last year, in 2009, when people widely believed the election of Barack Obama was going to end these wars.  It’s important we’re out there to go against the tide.

Today, Obama is in Afghanistan, on dark-of-night unannounced trip to twist the arms of Hamid Karzai, the president who didn’t win the recent election, but nevertheless is the US’ best hope to secure Afghanistan firmly under the domination of the U.S. empire.  Even Fox News notes today that

Both of Karzai’s vice presidents are former warlords whose forces allegedly killed thousands of people in the civil war of the 1990s that paved the way for the rise of the Taliban.

Few people, including those against the wars, are paying attention to the US offensive in Marja, Afghanistan, which is now being spread north to Kandahar.  The U.S. is already warning people there to leave, or else they will be considered Taliban sympathizers…in the second largest city in the country!  Where should people go? It’s impossible not to kill civilians in an occupation, as reported Friday in Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints.

“The people are tired of all these cruel actions by the foreigners, and we can’t suffer it anymore,” said Naqibullah Samim, a village elder from Hodkail, where Mr. Yonus lived. “The people do not have any other choice, they will rise against the government and fight them and the foreigners. There are a lot of cases of killing of innocent people.”

Still Waitin on that ChangeYes, Obama and General Stanley McChrystal report the occupation is now “winning” even while they tell us to expect more casualties.  While the headline is US deaths double in Afghanistan as troops pour in, the news is that more people in the US support the offensive than in December 2009

After a summer marked by the highest monthly death rates of the war, President Barack Obama faced serious domestic opposition over his decision in December to increase troops in Afghanistan, with only about half the American people supporting the move. But support for his handling of the war has actually improved since then, despite the increased casualties.

The latest Associated Press poll at the beginning of March found that 57 percent of those surveyed approved his handling of the war in Afghanistan compared to 49 percent two months earlier.

The Washington Post today polls 53% in favor of Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, so Obama feels he can get away with telling the troops in Afghanistan that people at home support the war there.  I think that support is shallow, and temporary, and that we have a great responsibility to bring reality to people on why the U.S. is occupying Afghanistan.  See A War for Empire – Not a “Good War” Gone Bad by Larry Everest.

The Iraq War was Illegitimate from Bush’s Invasion On

The Bush regime’s war on Iraq was, and remains, completely illegitimate by all measures.  Yet, too few people, even those against the wars, stop to look at  how the Iraq war began.  As we said in Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime in 2005, “YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in its sights.”  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and the whole cabal openly lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction and a link to al Qaeda and 9-11 in an attempt to bully other countries into joining the invasion.

The Bush regime carried out the destruction of civil society in Iraq.  The electrical, educational, sewage, water, and security systems.  In the process 1.2 million, displaced more than 4 million, tortured unknown numbers directly in detention, and made the country unlivable.  The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war amounted to a war crime on its face, of aggressive war.

Should we stop talking about that?  Much of this country thinks the war is a) over or b) ending because Obama is withdrawing troops, even though private contractors are still pouring in for a permanent US military occupation.  Foreign policy is gone from the headlines, except for that minor problem Obama has with Netanyahu.

I am still thinking about the piece in the Christian Science Monitor by Michael Ollove, reporting on the war from York, PA

After seven years in Iraq and nine in Afghanistan, residents of York, Pa., talk about how the wars have become like a screen saver: always there but rarely acknowledged.

So, that’s why our visible protests are important. A survey of the ways in which people protested:

Washington, DC:

Stop the KillingCindy Sheehan set up Camp OUT NOW on the national mall as part of the ongoing Peace of the Action effort to have continuous protest in Washington until the wars end.  The action resumes April 6.

The Iraq War Memorial came to the Washington Monument, stopping thousands of tourists with the names of those killed in Iraq, both US military and Iraqis.

ANSWER Coalition 7,000 rallied and marched around the White House, depositing symbolic coffins at the offices of Haliburton (where an effigy of Dick Cheney was trampled); the offices of the Washington Post and Veterans Administration; and in the front of the White House.  Cindy Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux and 5 others were arrested for not moving from in front of the White House, held for 48 hours, and banned from the White House area for six months. Read AP report. Watch the AP video. Flickr Gallery.

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched along with military families.  While speaking at the rally, Elaine Brower, a leader of World Can’t Wait; Robynn Murray, an Iraq veteran, and Matthis Chiroux, an Afghanistan veteran and Iraq war resister, said the American flag stands for empire, and burned one. See The Nightmare Will End When We Wake Up! Watch the video.

Marches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle:

Thousands marched.  See Stephanie Tang of World Can’t Wait: Obama’s War is Killing the Afghan People, not Saving Them.

In San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg spoke to a rally of thousands on the importance of protest:

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War and is the subject of the recent documentary film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” likened the protest and others like it around the country Saturday to a day of demonstrations organized against the conflict in Vietnam in 1969.

“They thought it had no effect,” he told the crowd in San Francisco, referring to the 1969 protesters. “They were wrong.”
Ellsberg said President Richard Nixon was planning to escalate the war around that time, but held off.

In Los Angeles, thousands also marched, including a We Are Not Your Soldiers contingent carrying a banner signed by many more youth pledging to resist military recruiters.

Charlottesville, VA:

Friday, March 19, John Yoo made two speeches at the University of Virginia, and was disrupted at both by questions and objections to his authorship of the Bush torture memos; his promotion of aggressive war; and his theory of presidential powers.  150 people protested outside.  See David Swanson, John Yoo: A President Can Nuke the United States for an account, photos & video.

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John Yoo Confronted in VA Today

War criminal John Yoo got protested by more people than he attracted in two appearances today.  His presentations were
disrupted with questions at least six times, and a venue was wrapped in yellow “crime scene” tape.

150, maybe more, came out in Charlottesville to protest John Yoo’s appearance at the University of VA as part of a book tour on Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Local peace and accountability activists did newspaper ads, posters, and lots of preparation so that students and others knew that Yoo was coming.  A small number of students joined the protest; but more came by to talk to us and see what the protest is about. Other youth did a “Funk the War” march on the STOP TORTURE theme.

While protesters gathered in a park across from a 3:30 pm lecture, a few went inside, and, one by one, called Yoo a war criminal, calling him out for promotion of aggressive war and torture as war crimes.  Yoo’s customary remark when he’s met by protesters that “Berkeley has followed me here” turned out to be true, as several of the protesters came from the Bay Area.

When I spoke to the crowd about our responsibility to the people of the world, who can’t wait to stop these crimes, two people in orange jumpsuits and hoods stood with me.  Afterward, police told them it was illegal to wear masks in the city, and threatened to arrest them if they weren’t removed.  Cindy Sheehan grabbed one of the hoods, and wore it when she spoke about having met men who had been detained in Guantanamo under harsh conditions.

David Swanson, Ray McGovern, Mike Ferner, Susan Harmon, Ann Wright, Shahid Buttar, and Mark Lane also spoke to the crowd, before we marched to the hall where Yoo was speaking, and attempted to enter.  A dozen city cops blocked the way.

More photos here! Video too.

Some rest now before the big protest tomorrow. You can join this movement: in the streets and through supporting the $10,000 fundraising effort underway now, that will fund the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.

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Join Me in Protesting Wars on Iraq & Afghanistan

US Troops Out of Iraq & Afghanistan NOW!
Stop the Wars & Torture for Empire!

See protest plans here

Saturday March 20, on the 7th anniversary, U.S. invasion of Iraq

CNN on February 23, 2010, more than eight years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan:

Twenty-seven civilians died and 14 others were wounded in the incident Sunday in the central Daikondi province, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry.  Ground forces at the scene found women and children among the casualties, the Afghan government and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a joint statement.

This is exactly what wars of occupation are all about, and they must stop!

The U.S. is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has more combat troops there – 166,000, with 30,000 more on the way – than during the Bush years.  President Obama is using drones (pilot-less aircraft) on raids into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of civilians.  All of these attacks are against international law, because none of these countries attacked the U.S.

IRAQ: As U.S. troops switch from “combat” to “permanent occupation” one million Iraqis are dead, 4 million are refugees. George Bush invaded Iraq seven years ago on the basis of outrageous lies: that Iraq was responsible for 9-11, and had “weapons of mass destruction.”  There was never any evidence of either, but over a million people died as Iraqi civil society, schools, sewers, water, and electricity were destroyed by occupation.  President Obama still has 98,000 U.S. troops there, though most people voted for him because they thought he would end the war.

AFGHANISTAN: the world’s most powerful military is destroying one of its poorest countries, a horror for civilians. Afghanistan is not any more “just” than the Iraq war.  It’s a war of terror on the people, now being expanded by Obama.  During the current and largest U.S. offensive of the war, which is going to spread over the next year, innocent civilians are being killed by U.S./NATO bombs, driven from their homes, and innocent Afghans have been imprisoned and tortured in secret U.S. detention centers.

Is the US there to stop the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? The Afghan people say they want the U.S. to leave because its actions – such as killing innocents – drive more people to join the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban, and because the U.S. allies with the bullying Northern Alliance warlords.

Is the US there to “save the women” from the Taliban? The Karzai government of Afghanistan, only in power because of U.S. guns, passed a law last year governing the Shi’a population (10-15% of the total) giving men the right to starve their wives if they refuse their husband’s demands for sex. Maternal death rates (from childbirth) are nearly the highest in the world, eight years after the US took over.

VISIBLE PROTEST – marching to stop the crimes of our government – makes a difference because we show what we won’t accept, and we learn what we’re up against.  These wars are not legitimate.  People around the world must see that we don’t support them, and know that to us, American lives are not more important than their own.

JOIN WORLD CAN’T WAIT SATURDAY MARCH 20 IN PROTEST!

Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many other locations.  Make your own protest known.

(866) 973 4463 worldcantwait.net

Print your own flier, with room for local info: pdf

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Why you should join protests on March 20, wherever you are

Why you should join protests on March 20, wherever you are:Afghanistan

If you can find news of the largest U.S./NATO offensive of the past 8 years in Afghanistan last week, it’s likely to be profiles of the soldiers and Marines who are up against tough odds, but “sure to prevail.” Those odds described by the US command, and repeated endlessly on FOX News, are that the “Taliban uses civilians as cover” and that the Afghan military and police really aren’t ready to “step up” and run their own country.

This offensive on Marja in southern Afghanistan is led by General Stanley McChrystal, the counter insurgency expert brought into Afghanistan by Obama last year to address U.S. military debacle, and who led widespread secret operations, reported by Esquire last year to include torture, under General Petreaus in Iraq.

“We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,”says McChrystal, now worried about avoiding civilian casualties.  As I wrote last week, in Why the U.S. is (and should be) Losing in Afghanistan.

How is the occupation going? Reminders: Obama kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has promoted the expansion into Afghanistan.  He’s expanded Bush’s quiet drone war, and is now has two unmanned drone programs (run by the military and the CIA), making far more attacks than Bush ever did.  The administration endorsed the “election” of Hamid Karzai over widespread, incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud in it.

The operation in Marja has killed up to 20 civilians, even though many thousands fled the area. The airstrike which killed 12 civilians is now claimed as not a mistake. NATO Commanders on Afghan Civilian Deaths: Rockets “Hit Their Intended Target.”

David Lindorff writes in Counterpunch on The Battle for Marja: Why the U.S. Has Already Lost:

In the war in Iraq, and in Afghanistan until recently at least, the American war-fighting style has been for troops to go into an area, seeking to draw enemy fire, and then to call in long-range artillery or air support, and simply blow up the area with heavy explosives, devastating anti-personnel bombs that shower an area in flesh-shredding flechettes, burning white phosphorus projectiles, and a brutal rain of machine-gun fire from fixed-wing and helicopter gunships. Inevitably with such tactics, countless innocent men, women and children get killed and maimed.

Iraq, where US troops have just now dipped under 100,000 strong are not leaving.  President Obama promised during the campaign that they would leave in 2010, then 2011.  But a base force of 50,000 at least, will stay indefinitely, fitting into the plan of permanent U.S. occupation.  They are still killing civilians, as Jason Ditz reports on antiwar.com.

JOIN World Can’t Wait in Washington March 19/20 with Peace of the Action and the ANSWER Coalition.  Friday March 19 is a day of action & outreach.  Saturday is a mass march on the White House.  World Can’t Wait is also supporting the marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco on March 20. More here.

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Anti-War Protest at Army’s New Chambers St. Recruiting Center

For immediate release  December 17, 2009

WorldCantWait.org

Contact: Elaine Brower  917-520-0767

nyc@worldcantwait.org

Anti-War Protest at Army’s New Chambers St. Recruiting Center

What: Picket line / Speak-out / Photo op

Where: 143 Chambers Street @ West Broadway

When: 12:00 pm, Friday December 18, 2009

In response to the opening today of the Army’s new recruiting center in downtown Manhattan, opponents of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq announced a protest tomorrow.

World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace and members of Military Families Speak Out/NY will be  protesting.

Elaine Brower, mother of a US marine who has been deployed to both war zones, said.

“We know that President Obama wants to increase the size of the military by 92,000. The current military is tired and war-weary.  They can’t keep sending these same guys back four times.  They’re going nuts.  The Army needs to fill those spots, and they will get them any way they can, whether it’s through teaching kids to play violent video games that simulate the killing of other human beings at the Army Experience Center trial project in Philadelphia or setting up near a college where kids are graduating with so much debt and no jobs.”

The Army says it chose the Chambers Street location to be near the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Stuyvesant High School, both located further west on the street.

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