Thursday, December 30, 2010

Afghan War: Who Will Speak for the Antiwar Majority?


Latest Polls: 63% of Americans

Oppose War in Afghanistan

Amanda Terkel

By Amanda Terkel

Beaver County Peace Links via Huffington Post

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high, with 63 percent of the public now opposed to U.S. involvement there, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Just 35 percent of survey respondents say they still support U.S. involvement.

The increase in opposition to U.S. involvement comes as pessimism about how the war is going is rising. According to a poll done Dec. 17-19, 56 percent of the public believes that "things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan."

"The war has not always been unpopular -- back in March, when a majority thought that the war was going well, the country was evenly divided. But by September, the number who said that things were going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan had dropped to 44 percent, and opposition to the war had grown to 58 percent," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Today, with Americans remaining pessimistic about the situation in Afghanistan, they also remain opposed to the war."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Note to Obama: Make a U-Turn on War


Your tax dollars rendered into junk in Afghanistan—but for some, it’s just more demand and more profit

[The following can easily be turned into a flyer for a peace group, or just pick any point and expand on it for a local ‘Letter to the Editor’]


Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010

By Juan Cole
Informed Consent, 12/27/2010
via Beaver County Peace Links

10. "There has been significant progress [1] in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan."

[A group of Afghans outside a market in Bamiyan province, Afghanistan, on June 8, 2008. Public opinion polls show that support for the U.S. military is only slightly higher than support for Osama bin Laden. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)]A group of Afghans outside a market in Bamiyan province, Afghanistan, on June 8, 2008. Public opinion polls show that support for the U.S. military is only slightly higher than support for Osama bin Laden. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

9. Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them.

* Fact: In a recent [pdf] poll, only 36% of Afghans [2] said they were confident that US troops could provide security. Only 32% of Afghans now have a favorable view of the United States over-all.

8. The "surge" and precision air strikes are forcing the Taliban to the negotiating [3] table.

* Fact: The only truly high-ranking Taliban leader thought to have engaged in parleys with the US, Mulla Omar's number 2, turns out to have been a fraud and a con man [4].

7. The US presence in Afghanistan is justified by the September 11 attacks.

* Fact: In Helmand and Qandahar Provinces, a poll found that 92% of male residents had never heard of 9/11. [5]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Do We Really Need Another Korean War?




By Harry Targ
Heartland Radical via Beaver County Peace Links

"We continue to send a message to the North. There is another way. There is a way that can benefit the people of the North," Mrs. Clinton said alongside Mr. Gates on Wednesday, as they stood just feet away from leering North Korean soldiers stationed across the North-South border. "But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea." (Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2010).   Graphic: US Korean War Propaganda Poster

In a political about-face, a South Korean commission investigating a century of human rights abuses has ruled that the U.S. military's large-scale killing of refugees during the Korean War, in case after case, arose out of military necessity.

Shutting down the inquiry into South Korea's hidden history, the commission also will leave unexplored scores of suspected mass graves believed to hold remains of tens of thousands of South Korean political detainees summarily executed by their own government early in the 1950-53 war, sometimes as U.S. officers watched.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Proto-Fascist Update: Why Are We Paying for War Crimes Training?

Islam-Bashing Bigots Train Counterrorism Agents

By Chip Berlet
Huffington Post via Progressive America Rising

"Kill them...including the children."

That's how to solve the threat of militant Muslims?

This quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was the theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010.

Our source had turned around after Shoebat's speech and asked the woman in the chair behind them at the conference what she though was the solution offered by Shoebat.

"Kill them...including the heard him," was the full response.

Shoebat's Las Vegas speech was described by our source as "frightening."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tom Hayden on Why the Peace Movement Needs a Peace Candidate in 2012



Don't Believe the Reviews:

Where We Really Are in Afghanistan

Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via

Dec. 15, 2010 - Early last month, a White House official predicted that the Obama administration's review of Afghanistan "will not suggest alternatives if aspects of the policy are found to be failing."

Got that right.

And Congress went along, with a handful of noble exceptions, in keeping the war off the agenda during the long midterm elections.

Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe's excellent review of the administration's "non-review" is here.

Let's concentrate on these facts of the last two years, and share them with other Americans.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

For the Scott Sisters, It’s Still Mississippi God Damn

Leonard Pitts Jr column:

Scott sisters may or may not be guilty

— But Mississippi surely is


By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Progressive America Rising

Let's assume they did it.

Let's assume that two days before Christmas in 1993, a 22-year-old black woman named Jamie Scott and her pregnant, 19-year-old sister, Gladys, set up an armed robbery. Let's assume these single mothers lured two men to a spot outside the tiny town of Forest, Miss., where three teenage boys, using a shotgun the sisters supplied, relieved the men of $11 and sent them on their way, unharmed.

Assume all of the above is true, and still you must be shocked at the crude brutality of the Scott sisters' fate. You see, the sisters, neither of whom had a criminal record before this, are still locked away in state prison, having served 16 years of their double-life sentences.

It bears repeating. Each sister is doing double life for a robbery in which $11 was taken and nobody was hurt. Somewhere, the late Nina Simone is moaning her signature song: "Mississippi Goddam."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

War’s Reality and Superpower Blinders

Film: The War You Don’t See

An Interview with John Pilger

John Pilger has clear views about the duty of journalists. True to form, his latest film pulls no punches. He talks to New Internationalist on the eve of its release, via Beaver County Peace Links.

NI: What’s The War You Don't See about?

JP: The film asks: ‘What is the role of the media in rapacious wars like Iraq and Afghanistan? Why do so many journalists beat the drums of war and not challenge the spin and lies of governments? And how are the crimes of war reported and justified when they are our crimes?’ It’s a film about truth and justice.

In the opening sequence, I refer to David Lloyd George, Britain’s prime minister during much of the First World War, who had a private chat with the editor of The Guardian, CP Scott, at the height of the carnage. ‘If people really knew the truth,’ said Lloyd George, ‘the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.’ My film is about people’s right to know.

It has always seemed odd to me that as journalists we examine people’s professional lives, but not our own. We treasure our myths. Edmund Burke called the press a ‘fourth estate’ that would check the other great institutions of democracy. It was a quintessentially liberal view. It was also romantic nonsense – honourable exceptions aside. Up till the arrival of the corporate press at the turn of the 20th century, newspapers were often fiercely independent and saw themselves as voices of ordinary people. The media – press and broadcasting – has long since become an extension of the established order, and frequently its mouthpiece and valet.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Will CyberWars Help End the Ground Wars?


WikiLeaks Versus the Empire

By Tom Hayden

Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation 

Nov. 30, 2010 - Informed sources say that the current deluge of WikiLeaks documents will continue for another week and grow in significance.
Leading US human rights lawyers, Leonard Weinglass and Michael Ratner, have joined the defense team for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

US officials are employing cyber-warfare and prosecutorial steps to deny any safe haven for the WikiLeaks operation with a fervor comparable to their drone attacks on Al Qaeda havens in Pakistan and Yemen.

Two cyber-attacks have been reported against WikiLeaks servers this week. The Justice Department is seeking indictments on espionage charges from a grand jury quietly impaneled this week in arch-conservative Alexandria, Virginia. Assange is in London, facing rape and sexual harassment charges in Sweden, on which he claims to be innocent. Extradition could be sought by the United States at any time from either venue.

Why is this drama important? Not because of “life-threatening” leaks as claimed by the establishment, but because the closed doors of power need to be open to public review. We live increasingly in an Age of Secrecy, as described by Garry Wills in Bomb Power, among recent books. It has become the American Way of War, and increasingly draws the curtains over American democracy itself. The wars in Pakistan and Yemen are secret wars. The war in Afghanistan is dominated by secret US Special Operations raids and killings. The CIA has its own secret army in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s entire record in Iraq was classified. The CIA has its own secret army in Afghanistan. And so on, ad nauseam.

And what is the purpose of all the secrecy? As Howard Zinn always emphasized, the official fear was that the American people might revolt if we knew the secrets being kept from us. In Rolling Stone’s expose of McChrystal’s war this year, one top military adviser said, “if Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.” McChrystal himself joked about sending out Special Forces units to kill at night then having to “scold” them in the morning.

And revolt we should, against those who would keep the affairs of empire shrouded. We should not be distracted by the juicy tidbits that may or may not be better left unreported. The focus of Congressional hearings and journalistic investigation should be on matters of public policy in which the American people are being lied to, most notably these:

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours” – Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh to Gen. David Petraeus.

“Note: while we must deal with AWK [Ahmed Wali Karzai] as the head of the Provincial Council [of Kandahar], he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker." – Cable 09KABUL3068.

The military coup in Honduras was completely illegal, but we supported the coup-makers anyway:

The Embassy perspective is that there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch… There is equally no doubt from our perspective that Roberto Micheletti's assumption of power was illegitimate.  

Without public outcry, don’t expect anyone to be following up on these shocking revelations. Instead, there will be a continuing escalation of the cyber-warfare and legal persecution of WikiLeaks and Assange.

The Washington Times is calling for “waging war” on the WikiLeaks Web presence. The new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Peter King, wants to designate WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization, which would block credit card donations to the organization and criminalize any civic support or even free legal advice under the Patriot Act, according to King. The military already holds Pfc. Bradley Manning in isolation on charges of having downloaded the files.

The Pentagon’s Cyber Command is allowed to conduct “full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains” – which author Declan McCullagh of CNET says “includes destroying electronic infrastructure as thoroughly as a B-52 bombing would level a power plant.”
This may sound alarmist, but does anyone seriously expect the US government, and its global allies, to permit more revelations to leak out week after week, month after month, in what Der Spiegel already calls “nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.”

What can be done?

Activists and the independent media can intensify a de facto teach-in, or national town meeting, to discuss the content of the documents far and wide;
Civic society must be persuaded through widespread discussion that this controversy is about the security of the elites, not national security;
Civil liberties lawyers need to join Weinglass and Ratner in the legal defense of Assange, Manning and the organization as a whole. An Ecuadoran official has offered his country as safe haven; others should follow;

Activists should demand immediate investigations of such issues as the cover-up of American bombing in Yemen, and oppose the current official mood of killing the messenger.

And remember: there are 250,000 more cables to go. This may be a long and strange campaign. 

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