Posts Tagged October2011.org

Video from Freedom Plaza / Stop the Machine

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Why is the U.S. war in Afghanistan such a central issue?

Standing at #OccupyWallStreet this week, we got a chance to talk with occupiers, supporters, and tourists about the upcoming 10th anniversary of the U.S. bombing and occupation of Afghanistan, and plans to protest it next week, particularly starting Thursday, October 6 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.

The great majority warmly embraced us, some literally, helping to write “Stop the War” in Arabic, Spanish, and French for our signs, or dropping donations in our bucket.  People stared a long time at a photo of Afghan civilians wounded by a U.S. bomb, and asked, “Is that war still going on?”  “Why hasn’t it been stopped, because we’re all against it?”  “I think the people there must hate us.”

A couple of Wall Street occupiers took issue, not with ending the war, but with making it a main focus.  One said that he is mainly worried about people in this country, whom he called “Americans.”  A friend of his accurately reminded him that this whole hemisphere is filled with Americans, but only in one country does the use of that term refer exclusively to citizens of the United States.

I read them one of my favorite one-liners from BAsics, the speeches and writings of Bob Avakian.

“American lives are not more important than other peoples’ lives.”

I said why it’s such an outrage that the richest country in history is destroying one of the poorest.  With more than 1,100 U.S. bases in countries around the world, U.S. power amounts to a world-wide empire, and the U.S. has a larger military budget than all other countries combined. Think about the destruction of the global environment caused by this military machine, the largest user of fossil fuels in the world, again, more than most countries.

They were kind of with me on that point.  “Think what could be done with all that money at home,” said the kid with peace sign tattoos.  ” I can see why you think it’s important to end the war. The U.S. really can’t afford the billions of dollars for war.”

But, in reality, the people who run this country can’t afford not to maintain an empire.  It’s how they dominate strategic parts of the world, especially the oil-rich Middle East, and keep other countries from controlling them.  War and the projection of military power is how they control globalized markets and production, which they would lose without the guns to back up their exploitation of people and resources.

Our opposition to U.S. wars of occupation is fundamentally based on morality.  They’re not fought in our interest, and certainly not in the interests of the people of the world.

Stopping the wars is so fundamental because they protect a system which hourly promotes a bigger gap between rich and poor, exploiters and exploited, on a world-wide basis.

Come out, protest, occupy, raise your voices against the 10 years of war in Afghanistan and against US domination of the globe.  That’s where the horrors start, and where we must put a stop to them.

Write me at debrasweet at worldcantwait.net for information on a conference call Thursday Sept. 29. 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific discussing Why is the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq?  What is the effect on those societies?  When, if ever, will the U.S. leave?  Presenters Larry Everest, author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, and Raed Jarrar, who blogs at RaedintheMiddle, and was born in Baghdad, will take your questions.

UPDATE: You can listen to the recorded conference call here.

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Going on 10 years, the drone from Washington gets louder

It’s difficult to pick out the most disturbing feature of the Obama administration’s expanding use of unmanned drones in its continuing war on “terror” in at least 5 countries. Would it be that the pilots, sitting in Texas or Nebraska, “watch” targets across the world for hours or days, and then go home for dinner with the kids?  That their slang term for human beings they’ve hit is “squirter?”  That the C.I.A. minders of one of the U.S. drone programs claim “no” civilians are killed?  Or that there’s no oversight, no budget limit, no one in the upper levels of government who is even disturbed by this inhumanity?

I’d go for all of the above, and together, they are only one reason I’m calling you to protest on October 6, and in the days after, at the outrage of 10 years of aggressive war and occupation of Afghanistan by the United States.  See World Can’t Wait protest plans, October2011.org, and 10 Years and Counting.

In Washington, D.C. on Thursday, October 6, we will have replica Predator drones on Freedom Plaza. We’ll be talking to the public about how they’re used, and we’ve got the facts to fuel outrage.  Last month, the New York Times reported on a drone attack in Pakistan, and raised questions:

On May 6, a Central Intelligence Agency drone fired a volley of missiles at a pickup truck carrying nine militants and bomb materials through a desolate stretch of Pakistan near the Afghan border. It killed all the militants — a clean strike with no civilian casualties, extending what is now a yearlong perfect record of avoiding collateral deaths.

Or so goes the United States government’s version of the attack, from an American official briefed on the classified C.I.A. program. Here is another version, from a new report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists: The missiles hit a religious school, an adjoining restaurant and a house, killing 18 people — 12 militants, but also 6 civilians, known locally as Samad, Jamshed, Daraz, Iqbal, Noor Nawaz and Yousaf.

The Telegraph U.K. reported that at least 168 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since start of campaign, although all concerned know how difficult it is to count the victims of the secret drone campaign.

In the first seven months of the year, 51 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed at least 443 people, according to a report by Conflict Monitoring Center. The report showed that the two deadliest months were June and July, when 117 and 73 people were killed respectively. One of the deadliest attacks was carried out on July 11 and 12, when four air strikes killed 63 people, the report said.  Controversy has surrounded the drone strikes as local residents and officials have blamed them for killing innocent civilians and motivating young men to join the Taliban. Details about the alleged militants are usually not provided, and the U.S. government does not comment on the strikes.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 2,292 people had been killed by US missiles, including as many as 775 civilians.

Clive Stafford Smith, an attorney for Guantanamo prisoners, wrote more on the children and civilians killed by U.S.drones:

The CIA claims that there has been not one “non-combatant” killed in the past year. This claim always seemed to be biased advocacy rather than honest fact. Indeed, the Guardian recently published some of the pictures we have obtained of the aftermath of drone strikes. There were photos of a child called Naeem Ullah killed in Datta Khel and two kids in Piranho, both within the timeframe of the CIA’s dubious declaration.

Smith raises a challenge that “every time we read news of the latest drone strike in Pakistan, we need an honest assessment of the civilian casualties – and of whether we feel comfortable with an unaccountable spy agency carrying out killings on a military scale (the CIA’s strikes now outweigh the firepower used in the opening round of the Kosovo war).”

All of this, done in our name, must be stopped by people acting in this country who know that American lives are not more important than the lives of other people, and that this outrageous war is fundamentally against humanity’s interest.

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