Posts Tagged war
Seven 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.”
Yes, 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:
Cindy 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.
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.
Sisters & Brothers:
Seven years after shock and awe in Iraq, and 14 months into the “change you can believe in,” things are going in a terrible direction.
One outrage after another:
Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan to 100,000 troops is not saving Afghan civilians, but killing them.
His use of secret operations and unmanned drones in 5 countries is not only illegal, unjust, and immoral, but against all of humanity. Revelations that the president claims the right to assassinate US citizens, and that private contractors are running black ops outside the chain of command.
His defense of the Bush era torture lawyers and war crimes in the name of “executive privilege” is unconscionable.
His refusal to allow more than 600 detainees in Bagram, Afghanistan to be identified, and to be denied habeas corpus rights or lawyers to challenge their detention put the lie to the claim he made a year ago that “we do not torture.”
Yes, the right wing IS breathing down Obama’s neck, questioning the legitimacy of his presidency because he’s Black. The racist Tea baggers get more press for one convention of 600 than we’ve ever gotten for anti-war marches. The neo-cons have all the intitiative, and the only promise Obama has kept is the one to spread the illegitmate occupation of Afghanistan.
But we have no skin in the game to save Obama, war president.
And there is no solution to this in Congress so don’t look there. Changing the face in the White House only made the poison go down easier.
What we need — what only we can do — is make a change in what people in this country will accept being done in our names. If people have gotten confused about whether the Iraq war is over, tell them, no — it’s becoming a permanent occupation!
If people are listening to the “Dick” Cheneys and John Yoos that torture is necessary to keep us safe, and thinking, maybe they agree, tell them, no — torture and aggressive war are never acceptable.
If kids you know are joining up with the military now because fighting for Obama sounds better than fighting for a president that hated, or because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might finally be ended, tell them no! Don’t join up for a military occupation where you will be trained and ordered to commit war crimes!
Want to stop the war? Stop the recruiters! Bring the We Are Not Your Soldiers! Tour bringing veterans to tell students the reality of the occupations, and help them resist the recruiters. If you want to stop the wars, start at your school. Wearenotyoursoldiers.org! March with the contingent and sign up to bring the tour to your school.
Only we can reverse this dynamic. The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us. The world STILL can’t wait!
Why you should join protests on March 20, wherever you are:
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.”
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.|
As people who follow World Can’t Wait know, we’ve been opposed to Barack Obama’s plans to expand the US occupation of Afghanistan since the 2008 campaign began. Now that Obama has expanded the US occupying forces beyond 150,000 (not including all the contractors outside the US military) and is pressuring European allies to send more troops, 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.
So how is all that working? I had a chance to hear Anand Gopal speak Monday night, at a Brooklyn for Peace event. I hope his talk will be broadcast, but in the meantime, I’ll report from my notes.
Anand Gopal gave us important information with “America’s Secret Afghan Prisons,” a piece based on 24 interviews with detainees and families of those held at Bagram Air Force Base, called “Obama’s Gitmo.” See a ten minute interview by Russia Today (who surely has an interest in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan) with Gopal.
Gopal stated that the Taliban had virtually been removed from Afghanistan in 2001-02 with the US invasion, relatively easily. Now, they once again dominate 1/2 of the country.
The main reason for this he cited was the civilian casualties caused by US/NATO attacks. He said that the Taliban also kills civilians, directly or indirectly, but that the civilian population thinks the US occupation is what’s responsible for the deaths. There have been major protests in all the cities, and every time that a group of civilians are killed by NATO or US forces, with American flags and effigies of Obama burned. People are very angry.
Another reason the US occupation will fail, Gopal said, is that they are supporting the “corrupt and predatory” Karzai government, which is viewed as the enemy by much of the country. During the 1990′s civil war, the Northern Alliance, and other warlord groups now allied with Karzai were responsible for horrific treatment of women. In areas they controlled, girls not married by the age of 12 were raped,
When the people protested the treatment of women, so bad that in 2003 hundreds of women drowned themselves rather than be raped by the Northern Alliance, the Karzai government did nothing, because Karzai needs the warlords to hold onto power. Because people in the country are preyed upon by the warlords, get no help from the Karzai government or the U.S. government, they have turned increasingly to the Taliban, despite the crimes against people they have committed.
Another reason for the U.S. lack of success in “winning hearts and minds” of the Afghan people Gopal cited is the “lack of reconstruction.” He said that 85% of the billions marked for reconstruction goes to US contractors. Of the remaining 15% much goes to the warlords. He said the major Kabul-Kandahar highway built by the Bush regime a few years ago is falling apart from shoddy construction.
Gopal said the only solution for the people of Afghanistan is the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The Toronto Star reported Sunday February 7 in Afghans flee ahead of planned NATO offensive
Mohammad Hakim, a 55-year-old tribal leader in Marjah, said fear has risen over the past two weeks and he knows at least 20 families who had left. He himself planned to take his wife, nine sons, four daughters and grandchildren to live with relatives in Lashkar Gah.
“Everybody is worried that they’ll get caught in the middle when this operation starts,” he said in a telephone interview.
Hakim said he was worried about the length of the operation.
“I can stay for one or two weeks,” he said. “But if I have to leave my agriculture land for months and months, then how will I feed my family?”
Emma Kaplan’s been blogging about her case and has been picked up by Michael Moore. Check it out!
So the trial has been re-scheduled for April 20th (readiness hearing is on April 16th). The judge has agreed to allow the “necessity defense”. The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law. The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property. It also has been used, with varying degrees of success, in cases involving anti-nuclear or anti-war protests. During the 1980s, for example, the Necessity Defense was used by protesters who blocked trains (called “White Trains” because they were painted white to keep their radioactive contents cool) carrying nuclear warheads to military bases in the U.S. The rationale was that the danger of nuclear war far outweighed any trespassing or blocking of the trains. One infamous example of a ‘White Train” action was in the 1980s, when anti-war activist and Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson was hit by a “white train” during an action at the Concord Munitions Depot in California.
I was with a small group of protesters today at the new Army Recruiting Center downtown near Ground Zero. Two police cars were called by the recruiters; apparently holding signs saying “Don’t Enlist! Resist!” and handing out hundreds of flyers seemed very dangerous.
A young German literature student stood for a long time, offering help from afar, and asking why people in the US are so quiet about the war. Just then a woman pushing a baby stroller sped by, took a flyer, and said that the recruiters have been open for weeks already — “where have you been?” I had to ask where she had been if it bothers her so much.
400 people took flyers in an hour, dozens of people thanked us, 4 cops glowered at us, 3 self-described ex-Marines screamed at us. The Marine recruiters down the street started sending their guys in dress uniforms to strut up and down the block, so we went down there for awhile, discussing with two new recruits why they were joining. “To keep America safe.” “Because I can learn discipline.”
Elaine Brower told them about her son’s two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, with the Marines. “You’re just going to be killing people there. How is that going to make anyone safe?” She ran it down. They got more and more quiet. After 20 minutes, the Staff Sergeant pulled them back inside, under orders not to engage with us.
We’ll be back on Chambers Street Wednesdays at noon. No doubt this will all get more interesting, and important a thing to be doing.
For immediate release December 17, 2009
Contact: Elaine Brower 917-520-0767
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.
– 30 –
By Elaine Brower on OpEdNews
For the last year or so I have been watching the construction of a new “Army Career Center” located a block from my office in downtown Manhattan. Once a week I would pass it and it was always closed and covered with brown paper on the big plate glass windows. It is located in an ideal spot, of course, because the military hires consultants to make sure they get prime real estate to suck up the youth.
Today the Army Career Center had its grand opening, a gala event that packed the center. I was able to make it there, but not until the end of the ceremony, when everyone had pretty much left, except for the Sgt. in charge, Castillo, and the brass. They were sitting around enjoying their food and smiling when I walked into the center. I asked for Sgt. Castillo, and was taken to the back room where he was sitting, along with his commanding officer, and another young soldier. I shook hands all around and introduced myself and told them my son just returned from his third tour of duty.
I recounted his story of joining the Marine Corps and being deployed to Afghanistan, and then to Iraq twice as a reservist. They were very impressed and asked me when did he return, and was he still in the Marines. Yes, I said, he was in the IRR at present, but is a New York City Police Officer as his full time job, which he has been doing for 5 years.
He was deployed twice while he was on the NYPD, and I told them that it was very hard for him to get his life started. They agreed and looked interested in the story.
I asked them about the local schools that they were so strategically placed next to, like the High School down the street, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. I said, “this is a good location for recruiting. You are so close to the schools and students pass your doors all day long. Do you plan on gaining entrance to the schools to do recruiting in the classes?” Sgt. Castillo said that they had asked permission and were awaiting approval, which he didn’t think would be a problem. I thought to myself nor do I, of course. The war machine is more than welcome in our schools, at every level. But I continued. “I work right down the street.” Sgt. Castillo asked where and who I worked for and I told him. He smiled and said “Wow, that’s great.”
I was sitting there in the back office, and then stated “I would like you to know that I am a member of a national organization called ‘Military Families Speak Out’ and it has about 4,000 members who all have loved ones who are serving or served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the wars vehemently and are doing everything in our power to stop them.”
I thought they would choke on their food at that point. Then I proceeded to say, “Since I work right here, I, along with hundreds of my activist friends, will be your worst nightmare!”
As you could hear a pin drop and confusion spread all over their faces, I continued. “I am so against what you are doing. You strategically placed this recruiting center so that kids who are either coming out of high school with nowhere to go, or those who graduate college in lots of debt and no jobs because of the economy are enticed to join the military.” “You are taking full advantage of the bad economy and sending more of our youth off to die and kill for illegal, immoral and illegitimate wars. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I don’t know how you sleep at night.”
I stood up, took a button off my handbag that I received while protesting at West Point. I said, “This button is for you.” I slammed it on the desk. “I got it when I was protesting at West Point when Obama was giving his “escalation speech.” It demands all troops home now, you can keep it as a reminder.”
At that point I thought they would stand up and escort me out. But they were in such shock, after spending the morning celebrating their existence, to hear that now they would be up against an angry mom, and counter-recruiters, put their small pea brains on overload.
In the new age of Obama, recruiting is a cushy job. This place had its doors open for a few days and already they are touting 11 new recruits. Those who would not fight and die for Bush, will do so under Obama which makes it extremely difficult to convince this generation of youth that joining this imperial military is not only bad for them, it’s bad for humanity.
And so it goes, I know where to have lunch every day now. Getting in the way of the war machine is what I like to do best, and they couldn’t have put this place in a better location, for me anyway!
On Saturday, December 12, 2009, an antiwar rally was held at Lafayette Square Park by the White House. Speakers included Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges all speaking out against the recent escalation of troops into Afghanistan and against Obama’s wars. This is my speech.