Friday, December 23, 2011

GOP Die-Hards Dragging Their Feet

Hawks Pushing for U.S. Troops in Iraq

Private ‘contractors’

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via

American hawks are blaming President Obama for a premature withdrawal from Iraq, as if a few thousand American troops could prevent the country's current sectarian convulsion. The peace movement needs to unite against the framing of this blame game in which Obama "is likely to draw new criticism for failing to negotiate an extension of the American troop presence in Iraq."

Kenneth Pollack, longtime supporter of the occupation says the present instability is "a clear and unmistakable challenge" to Obama's policy. The mainstream media has adopted the same narrative. The political theme of "losing" countries to foreign enemies is a powerful current in America's political culture.

The reality is that both Republicans and Democrats supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his inevitable replacement by a Shiite-led majority coalition with close links to Iran and an enduring hostility to Iraq's Sunni minority. The notion of a united, secular and nationalist Iraq was a delusion. The regime in Baghdad is authoritarian, sectarian, and harbors dungeons where thousands of Sunnis have been tortured. Al-Maliki also is a deeply disturbed and paranoid leader who is haunted by fears of conspiracies everywhere.

Al-Maliki recently met with Obama to plead for American support of the faltering Assad dictatorship in Syria, clear evidence that al-Maliki sides with Iran in the region's geo-politics. The besieged Syrian majority is Syrian, and they share a long border with the Sunni-populated provinces of Iraq, such as Anbar province.

Iraq is spiraling towards brutal repression or civil war, unless the Sunni minority there is fortified by the Sunni-based revolution in Syria. That would potentially deter al-Maliki and Iran's ambitions in Iraq, and ironically align the US with some of the very Sunnis who supported the 2003 insurgency against the American invasion then turned around to fight with the Americans against al Qaeda's Iraqi branch.

Concerned Americans can do little if anything about these developments except encouraging the Obama administration to pressure for rapid, decisive and democratic change in Syria.

Some in the blogosphere claim that Obama isn't really withdrawing from Iraq. They couldn't be more wrong, as the storm gathers in Baghdad and mainstream blame mounts in the US. Fortunately for Obama, a vast majority of Americans are tired of Iraq and fully support the pullout - over 80 percent of Democrats and Independents, and 58 percent of Republicans.

Follow Tom Hayden on Twitter:

Jobs and FDR’s ‘Economic Bill of Rights’


By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via

Unemployment in 1933: 24.9%
Unemployment in 1937: 14.3%
Unemployment in 1938: 19%
Unemployment in 1942: 5%

These statistics from the Historical Statistics of the United States clearly show that the New Deal dramatically lessened joblessness from Roosevelt’s election in 1932 until his second term; then began to climb when FDR retreated to a more conservative path; then finally ended because of war spending in World War 2.

Sensing the return of a structure crisis, Roosevelt proposed an “economic bill of rights” in his 1944 State of the Union address. Roosevelt died and his proposed domestic agenda was subordinated to seventy years of Cold War military spending.[see the fine history by Obama adviser Cass Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights, FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever, 2004.]

Needless to say, spending on spies and electronic battlefields in the Long War on Terrorism will not resolve our unemployment crisis, and sending hundreds of thousands of Americans into ground wars is not an option.

Civilian economic development – investment in green jobs, infrastructure, education, health care, tax credits for job creation – is the only path to a full employment economy. #

Monday, December 19, 2011

One War Down, Now to End the Afghan War

Photo: Last U.S. Troop Convoy at Iraq Border

In Iraq, Peace at Last

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via Los Angeles Times

As the United States completes its withdrawal from Iraq, it is worth pausing to remember the determined peace activists who opposed the war from the start, including one who took up their cause and became president.

On Friday, some of them gathered in Chicago at the Federal Plaza, where in October 2002 Barack Obama">Obama, then a member of the Illinois Senate, stepped onto the stage to oppose the looming Iraq war. The plaza should be remembered as the place where the long march to peace began.

At the time, neoconservatives were riding high. Not only had the president, George W. Bush, embraced many of their ideas; powerful figures in the Democratic Party were echoing them as well. Obama">Obama was not among them.

“I don’t oppose all wars,” he said that day, noting that he would take up arms himself to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war.”

Obama">Obama expressed outrage at “the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” The saber-rattling, he said, represented an “attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market which has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.”

It was a brave stance to take for an ambitious politician at a time when American support for war with Iraq was building. He went on to become the first president to campaign on a promise to end an ongoing American war, and the peace movement helped put him into office.

In the years leading up to the 2008 election, there were at least 10 national antiwar demonstrations that drew more than 100,000 participants each. The movement helped Rep. Barbara Lee to rise from a lone war opponent in Congress to the leader of a bloc of as many as 200 representatives calling for an end to the wars in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Those combined forces — the peace movement and lawmakers who opposed continuing the Iraq war — created a political climate that enabled Obama">Obama to end the Iraq war over the objections of many in the Pentagon and most of his Republican presidential rivals.

Obama">Obama’s position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shifted occasionally during the decade, illustrating the powerful conflict of forces in play. In 2008, he seemed ready to accept the advice of the establishment-oriented Iraq Study Group, which recommended leaving a residual force of 10,000 to 15,000 troops in Iraq. After being elected, though, he surprised everyone by announcing in early 2009 that all U.S. forces would be pulled out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

In recent months, the administration seemed to be considering leaving behind a few thousand troops to continue training Iraqi forces, but it abandoned the idea after failing to reach a deal with the Iraqi government on legal immunity for the American troops.

Some peace activists view the fact that thousands of advisors and contractors will remain in Iraq on the U.S. Embassy payroll as evidence of a secret plan to continue the war by other means. But the war is as over as a war can be, and the peace movement should celebrate. Removing troops from Iraq will save tens of billions of dollars a year, and it will also save lives.

Now the challenge will be to bring the war in Afghanistan and the drone strikes over the border in Pakistan to an end as quickly as possible. Obama">Obama may have convinced himself that these are not “dumb wars” carried out by mindless conservatives, but the Ph.D.s at the Pentagon and the State Department cannot prevent a deepening calamity.

This year, Rep. Lee orchestrated a Democratic National Committee resolution calling for a more rapid Afghan withdrawal, but so far the president has committed only to handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014. The peace movement should push for a faster pace.

And if the president finds himself nostalgic for battle, I’d remind him of some largely forgotten — and prophetic — words from his 2002 speech: “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East — the Saudis and the Egyptians — stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

“You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves of Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon or Mobil.”

Those are the kinds of battles even a peace movement could embrace.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Uncovering a Secret History to Build a Lasting Peace


Book Review: The Forgotten Palestinians

By Rod Such
Beaver County Peace Links

Ilan Pappé's The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel (2011) is an important new addition to the growing literature about the Israeli government's treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

Most people are unaware that Palestinian Arabs now represent 20 percent of Israel's population, a larger minority group than African Americans who make up 11 percent of the U.S. population. Israel's Palestinian Arab population is made up of those Palestinians who remained in Israel after its founding in 1948 and their descendants. Pappé's

The Forgotten Palestinians focuses on the history of this group of people from the period just prior to Israel's formation to the present. It also discusses current conditions facing Israeli Palestinians and their political consciousness and development. For those who want a more detailed understanding of current conditions, however, The Forgotten Palestinians should probably be read in conjunction with Israel's Palestinians: The Conflict Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011) by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman.

Pappé is one of Israel's so-called "new historians," a group that includes among others Benny Morris, Tom Segev, and Avi Shlaim. The difference between these historians and all previous histories by Israeli authors is that the new historians-all Israeli Jews--were the first to have access to official Israeli, U.S., and British documents. In this sense, Segev suggests, they should be known as Israel's "first historians" because they were the first to be able to write authoritative history based in large part on actual government and military documents that had previously been classified secret.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Taking on the Military Keynesians

War: The Wrong Jobs Program

By Mark Engler via Foreign Policy in Focus

More than 40 years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of Barack Obama, before the collapse of Bear Stearns, and before contemporary debates about bailouts and debt ceilings, two authors, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, considered a tricky problem. In times of downturn, the government must spend to stimulate the economy. Yet getting the political establishment to agree on one particular program of spending seemed nearly impossible.

Baran and Sweezy phrased the conundrum as a question: "On what could the government spend enough to keep the system from sinking into the mire of stagnation?"

After assessing the political realities that steer America's power elite, they could find only one response. It was not what typically comes to mind when we think of economic stimulus or government-led job creation.

Their answer: "On arms, more arms, and ever more arms."

The authors did not approve of military spending as a strategy of economic development.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trying to Squeeze China? Bad Idea…

China’s new missile ships

America's New Cold War With China

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via

Nov. 17, 2011 - By declaring that he will dispatch 2,500 Marines to Australia, President Obama has crossed a line, beginning a new Cold War with China, one based on military encirclement on sea and land, costing unknown trillions in defense dollars, and shoring up cheap labor markets in a free trade zone excluding China. An increased emphasis on China’s systemic human rights violations will provide a liberal rationale for the new global competition.

Just as some might wonder what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is doing in Afghanistan, one might wonder what the United States Navy is doing in the China Sea. Call it imperialism, globalization or great power politics; the new strategy is a replica of the eighty-year Cold War against the Soviet Union.

That conflict resulted in the implosion of the Soviet Union and much rhetoric about America becoming the “sole superpower,” but has done little to advance the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; end the American isolation in Latin America; or prevent the rise of China as the emerging economic power. Along the way, millions of people died, were wounded or displaced in a series of hot wars with the Cold War as backdrop and rationale. By analogy, the new Cold War is based on the historic Soviet model of squeezing China’s budget through military encirclement, while hoping for internal uprisings by Chinese workers and intellectuals against austerity and repression.

The new Cold War may be intended to be more economic, political and diplomatic than military. But bloody wars might erupt between North and South Korea, China and Taiwan, or through proxy wars involving Pakistan and India. The US network of emerging military alliances could obligate the US to enter such conflicts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More U.S. ‘Humanitarian’ War in Africa? No!…

Sending Troops to Uganda?

Photo: Terrorist of the ‘Lord’s Army’

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
NNPA Columnist,
via Progressive America Rising

(NNPA Oct 27, 2011) Reports that the Obama administration is planning on sending U.S. troops to Uganda to hunt down the so-called Lord's Resistance Army sent chills up my spine. The Lord's Resistance Army, a group of maniacal terrorists running around Uganda for years, has been a major thorn in the side of the people of Uganda. Their atrocities are countless and it is in every one's interests that they are destroyed. That said, I ask myself, why is the U.S.A. sending troops there?

If the Obama administration wants to help Uganda defeat the LRA, they should limit themselves to advising and training Ugandans to fight their own war. Better yet, they should support the African Union in carrying out a coordinated, multi-country assault on the LRA (since the LRA crosses borders, including back and forth to what is now the South Sudan). They could also supply Uganda other forms of assistance to help the areas that are blighted by the LRA. But sending U.S. troops to Uganda starts to feel like an old film we have all seen, i.e., Vietnam.

Once U.S. troops are on the ground in Uganda, it almost automatically changes the dynamics of a struggle. The LRA, as terrorist as they are, can claim, much as the Al Shabab terrorists in Somalia, that they are fighting not just the Ugandan government (in this case) but the U.S. government and its intervention. As we witnessed in Somalia, when Ethiopia invaded with the active support of the U.S.A. in 2006 in order to crush the Union of Islamic Courts (a conservative Islamist force that had stabilized the situation in part of Somalia), this inflamed the situation even more. Instead of crushing Islamists, the Ethiopian/U.S. invasion provoked the growth of dangerous terrorists and warlords, a fact that author Jeremy Scahill has recently documented in The Nation. A similar danger could await the U.S.A. through the deployment of troops to Uganda. While it is only alleged to be 100 troops, as we know from previous U.S. interventions, there is no reason to believe that the intervention will stop there, particularly if there are U.S. casualties. Therefore, as the intervention grows, the battle cry against the U.S.A. will grow and with it the very real possibility of a prolonged engagement in Uganda.

The Obama administration needs to rescind it proposed deployment. It should support the African Union and other forces who wish to crush the LRA. But U.S. troops on the ground needs to be out of the question. Given the disasters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, enough is enough.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided. He can be reached at .

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Out of Iraq! Next, Afghanistan…

Iraq: After Nearly Nine Years of War and

Occupation, America to Withdraw All Troops

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation

Oct 19, 2011 - In a stunning and largely unexpected victory for the American peace movement and Iraqi opponents of the US occupation, virtually all US troops will withdraw from Iraq as scheduled by this December 31.

First reported by the Associated Press on October 16, the US pullout will allow President Obama to keep an important promise, and the Iraqi government to defend its sovereign power.

Remaining behind in Baghdad, however, will be the world’s largest US Embassy, the size of eighty football fields, with some 5,000 staff, including private contractors. There may be some 160 active-duty US soldiers attached to the embassy, according to the AP story. Thousands more US troops will likely be redeployed over the border to Kuwait.

According to the AP account, the Iraqis rejected intense Pentagon lobbying to retain a “residual” force of thousands of US troops. Earlier this year, the Pentagon was insisting on 10,000–15,000 troops at a minimum, a number that was slashed to a slender 3,000–4,000 troop proposal by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a few weeks ago.

The main sticking point was the US demand for immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for American troops. The Iraqi Parliament rejected immunity, citing memories of torture at Abu Ghraib and reckless shootings of civilians by American contractors during the conflict.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Afghanistan: 10 Years and No Ending


Afghanistan War News Digest,

October 11, 2011

Beaver County Peace Links via UFPJ

As the war in Afghanistan enters its second decade, one theme of recent news coverage has been that the situation there has not improved overall in the past 10 years. There have been reports of increased opium demand and production, high rates of maternal mortality, and continuing disputes over parliamentary election results. One particularly disturbing report has been the UN’s investigation revealing systematic torture among Afghan security and police officials; the US involvement in these incidents was not officially looked into, but is inconclusive and the subject of debates. Finally, there were several reminders of the fact that the US has been at war with Afghanistan for 10 years.

U.N. Finds ‘Systematic’ Torture in Afghanistan A detailed UN report found systematic torture by Afghan intelligence and police officials. The report did not assess the level of US military involvement or knowledge in these abuses, but questions have been raised about US support for Afghan intelligence and police forces.

Opium Surges in Afghanistan According to the UN, opium production surged 61% in Afghanistan in 2011. This is due to rising demand and worsening security.

Abducted aid workers freed in Afghanistan

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Occupy Iraq Forever? Bring’em Home!

Iraq: 100 Days of Solidarity

By Medea Benjamin
Beaver County Peace Links via Code Pink

Sept 28, 2011 - This week marks the beginning of what is supposed to be the final 100 days of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But if U.S. troops are to leave Iraq at the end of this year as promised -- repeatedly -- it will take grassroots pressure to counter the growing "occupy-Iraq-forever" chorus in Washington.

Despite the fact that there is a Bush-era agreement with the Iraqi government to leave, despite the fact that the majority of Iraqis and Americans don't support a continued U.S. presence, and despite the fact that Congress is supposedly in an all-out austerity mode, strong forces -- including generals, war profiteers and hawks in both parties -- are pushing President Obama to violate the agreement negotiated by his predecessor and keep a significant number of troops in Iraq past the December 31, 2011 deadline.

It's true there has already been a major withdrawal of U.S. troops, from a high of 170,000 in 2007 to about 45,000 troops today (with most of the troops being sent over to occupy Afghanistan instead). That number, however, doesn't tell the whole picture. As the New York Times notes, "Even as the military reduces its troop strength in Iraq, the C.I.A. will continue to have a major presence in the country, as will security contractors working for the State Department," the latter to defend a U.S. embassy that's bigger than the Vatican.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Solidarity Against the Wars

On Oct 6 in DC, Let's Make

a National Clamor for Peace

By Robert Naiman
Beaver County Peace Links via

On October 7, 2011, the United States will have been at war for ten years.

Let's mark the occasion by making a national clamor for peace so loud that Congress, the president, and big media will have to pay attention.

October 7 happens to fall on a Friday this year. If you get to choose, Friday is not necessarily the most strategic day to make a national clamor for peace, because 1) Congress will likely not be in session 2) Friday is, in general, a crummy day to try to get media attention and 3) even if these two things weren't true or relevant, Friday is not a great day to try to hold public attention. People's thoughts are turning to the weekend, and then the weekend erases the chalkboard.

Moreover, the press has to cover the anniversary of the war, but these stories are going to be largely written and produced before Friday. The default media narrative will be: America has lost interest in the wars, because of the economy and unemployment, because "the wars are already winding down," or some other story that journalists or editors will make up. We have to beat this default media narrative. To beat it, we need to get in front of it.

So let's mark the occasion on Thursday, October 6. Let's have a national, "ecumenical" day of action for peace: to end the wars and cut the military budget.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tug-of War over Iraq Withdrawal

 Under the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement all US troops are supposed to leave Iraq by December 31 of this year. However, the Obama Administration is trying to persuade the Iraqi government to continue an American military presence beyond that date.

In response Barbara Lee has introduced HR 27577 Iraq Withdrawal Accountability Act of 2011 that would require the removal of all US troops and contractors from Iraq on or before the promised deadline December 31 2011.

This important bill now has 37 co-sponsors.(See list at bottom of news article). If your member of Congress is not on this list, please call their office and ask them to do so. Let them know it is long past time to bring  all US troops and contractors home from Iraq. Congressional Switchboard: 202 224-3121

Circulate this message widely and keep  us posted about the response you receive from the Congressional office.  --Rusti and Gael, co-conveners of UFP Legislative Working Group,

Familiar Hawks Press Obama on Iraq Withdrawal


By Jim Lobe
Progressive America Rising via InterPress

WASHINGTON, Sep 15 (IPS) - A familiar group of mainly neo-conservative hawks – many of whom championed the 2003 invasion of Iraq –released an open letter to President Barack Obama Thursday urging him to retain a substantial military force in that Middle East country beyond this year. Released by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) – the successor organisation of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that championed the 2003 U.S. invasion – the letter warns against reported plans by the administration to reduce Washington's troop presence to 4,000 after Dec. 31, the date by which, according to a 2008 U.S.- Iraqi agreement, all U.S. forces are to be withdrawn.

Washington currently has about 45,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, down from an all-time high of 170,000 in late 2007 when they were used to tamp down sectarian violence that brought the country to the edge of all- out civil war.

The letter was signed by 40 policy and defence analysts, including a number of former senior George W. Bush administration officials who played key roles in the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq; among them, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Paul Bremer; his spokesman, Dan Senor; former Undersecretary of Defence Eric Edelman; and Vice President Dick Cheney's Mideast aide, John Hannah; as well as former White House aides Karl Rove, Marc Thiessen, and Peter Wehner.

A 4,000-troop residual force "is significantly smaller than what U.S. military commanders on the ground have reportedly recommended and would limit our ability to ensure that Iraq remains stable and free from significant foreign influence in the years to come," the letter asserted.

"You have fulfilled your campaign commitment to the nation to end the war in Iraq," it went on. "Now, we request that you ensure that in doing so, we do not lose the peace."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rounding Up News on the Long Wars

Afghanistan War News Digest, September 12, 2011

Beaver County Peace Links via UFPJ

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is behind us, and the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan is quickly approaching. Most of the news coverage relating to Afghanistan in the past couple of weeks has referenced these milestones in one way or another. The 10-year mark coincided with increased analysis of the relationship between 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. There were reports of corruption and abuses among Afghan police and security forces, but even more striking was the report that the majority of Afghan farmers in Helmand province had not heard of 9/11. A lot of attention focused on the cost of the war, in terms of the economic cost as well as the war’s impact on US troops, military families, and American culture in general.

10th Anniversary of 9/11

What Does 9/11 Mean to People in Afghanistan?

92% of Afghan men in Helmand province in Afghanistan do not know what 9/11 was.

Generation goes from Sept. 11 classrooms to war

Many of the US troops serving in Afghanistan in 2011 were children or teenagers on 9/11/01.

This article profiles some members of this generation.

9/11 Media Coverage Brings Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Back Home

10 years after 9/11, many reporters have trouble generating interest for news stories relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

September 11 widow imagines ways other than war

Andrea LeBlanc, whose husband was on one of the hijacked planes on 9/11, speaks out against the use of 9/11 as a justification for war.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why We're Still in Search of a Peace Party

Blinded by Fright

We're 10 years past the Twin Towers attack and still fighting wars in its name. Can we open our eyes in time?

By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising via Detroit Metro Times

September 7, 2011 - After witnessing the first jetliner crash into the Twin Towers on that Sept. 11 morning, a friend of mine's wife and 7-year-old daughter fled to their nearby Manhattan loft and ran to the roof to look around. From there, they saw the second plane explode in a rolling ball of flaming fuel across the rooftops. It felt like the heat of a fiery furnace.

Not long after, the girl was struck with blindness. She rarely left her room. Her parents worked with therapists for months, trying various techniques including touch and visualization, before the young girl finally recovered her sight.

"The interesting new development," my friend reports, "is that she no longer remembers very much, which she told me when I asked her if she would be willing to speak with you."

That's what happened to America itself 10 years ago this Sunday on 9/11, though it might be charged that many of us were blinded by privilege and hubris long before.

But 9/11 produced a spasm of blind rage arising from a pre-existing blindness as to the way much of the world sees us. That in turn led to the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan again, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — in all, a dozen "shadow wars," according to The New York Times. In Bob Woodward's crucial book, Obama's Wars, there were already secret and lethal counterterrorism operations active in more than 60 countries as of 2009.

From Pentagon think tanks came a new military doctrine of the "Long War," a counterinsurgency vision arising from the failed Phoenix program of the Vietnam era, projecting U.S. open combat and secret wars over a span of 50 to 80 years, or 20 future presidential terms. The taxpayer costs of this Long War, also shadowy, would be in the many trillions of dollars and paid for not from current budgets, but by generations born after the 2000 election of George W. Bush. The deficit spending on the Long War would invisibly force the budgetary crisis now squeezing our states, cities and most Americans.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Not to mention the human cost all around…

Update: U.S. Casualties in the Current Wars

By Michael Munk
Beaver County Peace Links

US military occupation forces in Iraq and Afganistan and attacking forces in Libya under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 136 combat casualties in the week ending August 23, as the official casualty total rose to 108,261.

The total includes 78,883 casualties since the US invaded Iraq in March, 2003 (Operations "Iraqi Freedom" and "New Dawn"), and 29,378 since the US invaded Afganistan in November, 2001 (Operation "Eduring Freedom").and none reported since it attacked Libya (Operation "Odessy Dawn") in March, 2011.

IRAQ THEATER: US forces suffered two combat casualties in the week ending August 23, as the total rose to 78,883. That includes 35,699 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and 43,184 dead and medically evacuated (as of Aug. 1) from "non-hostile" causes.

AFGANISTAN THEATER: US forces suffered 134 combat casualties in the week ending Aug 23 as the official total rose to 29,378. The total includes 14,821 dead and wounded from "hostile" causes and 14,557 dead and medically evacuated (as of Aug. 1) from "non-hostile" causes.

LIBYA THEATER:Two air force officers in a downed F-15E were rescued with minor injuries which were not listed as casualties, but several Libyans were wounded by US fire in their rescue. Reports indicate US aircraft no longer fly combat missions over Libya, but focus on refeuling, survaillance and offshore missile launches.

US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by only reporting regularily the total killed (6,214 - 4,477 in Iraq,1,737 in Afghanistan) but rarely mentioning those wounded in action (45,622--32,175 in Iraq, 13,447 in Afghanistan). They ignore the 56,425 (42,231 in Iraq,14,194 in AfPak as of Aug 1) military casualties injured and ill seriously enough to be medivaced out of theater, even though the 6,214 total dead include 1,316 (953 in Iraq, 363 in Afghanistan) who died from those same "non hostile" causes, including 293 suicides (as of Aug. 1) and at least 18 in Iraq from faulty KBR electrical work.

WIA are usually updated on Tuesday at

Non combat casualties are usually reported monthly at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Money for War vs. Money for Jobs

True Cost of US Wars Unknown

By Nancy A. Youssef
Beaver County Peace Links via McClatchy Newspapers

The Pentagon says it spends about $9.7 billion per month, but its cryptic accounting system hides the true price tag of the two wars.

Aug 16, 2011 - When congressional cost-cutters meet later this year to decide on trimming the federal budget, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could represent juicy targets. But how much do the wars actually cost the US taxpayer?

Nobody really knows.

Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag.

But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American.

Lawmakers remain sharply divided over the wisdom of slashing the military budget, even with the United States winding down two long conflicts, but there's also a more fundamental problem: It's almost impossible to pin down just what the US military spends on war.

To be sure, the costs are staggering.

According to Defense Department figures, by the end of April the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - including everything from personnel and equipment to training Iraqi and Afghan security forces and deploying intelligence-gathering drones - had cost an average of $9.7 billion a month, with roughly two-thirds going to Afghanistan. That total is roughly the entire annual budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.

To compare, it would take the State Department - with its annual budget of $27.4 billion - more than four months to spend that amount. NASA could have launched its final shuttle mission in July, which cost $1.5 billion, six times for what the Pentagon is allotted to spend each month in those two wars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Taxes for More Wars?

Scrambled Brains in High Places

Photo: Wasted War Junk in Iraq

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

Members of Congress had best be careful. If it hasn't already done so, the 'deficit madness' virus circulating in those hallowed halls will turn your brains into scrambled eggs.

That's the conclusion to draw from the latest bright idea from Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) reported in the Aug 16 Washington Post-a new tax surcharge on taxpayers across the board to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"These wars ought to be paid for and not put on a credit card so that our kids will have to pay for this in the future," McGovern said in a recent telephone interview. It's morally wrong for members [of Congress] to call for support of our soldiers and then not ask the rest of us to pay for it .?.?. or have it left to the poor and middle-income and seniors to bear the sacrifice along with our soldiers and their families. That's wrong."

McGovern wants the 'Super-Congress' Deficit Commission to take it up.

Only the last phrase about putting the burden on the poor contains any sense, especially since the overall costs, not to mention lives lost on all sides, is approaching $3 trillion. The rest is just screwy.

But I have a better idea. First, end the wars immediately, and only allocate enough money to get all our troops and contractors back home lickety-split. Second, pass a bill to pick up the tab by doing away with the oil depletion allowances and all other tax breaks on the oil companies. If that's not enough, put a tax on transfers of oil stocks and the profits of military contractors. And if they try to jack up the price of gasoline to cover their war expenses, nationalize them. After all, they're the only ones really benefiting from these foreign policy disasters.

Once that's out of the way, we can turn to the more strategic solution: a job creating financial transaction tax on all Wall Street gambling to fund the clean energy and green manufacturing revolution we need to move away from fossil fuels altogether. There are all sorts of places to begin, from 'shovel-ready' low-skilled jobs repairing the locks and dams on our rivers, to higher skilled jobs building and installing county-owned wind and solar generators as public power utilities.

In short, 'Jobs, Not War!' and 'Windmills, Not Weapons' are much better alternatives every which way than more taxes to pay for more wars. Back to the drawing board, Congressman McGovern.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Afghan War Weekly, Aug 9, 2011

From United for Peace and Justice

The violence continued in Afghanistan this week, with the crash of a US Chinook helicopter that killed 38 people as one of the most-reported stories. However, it was far from the only violent incident this week. The week saw both military and civilian casualties from several incidents around the region. Additionally, Afghans were faced with floods in some regions, and also with droughts and food shortages in other regions. Meanwhile, there have been ongoing trials of some US troops accused of killing unarmed civilians in Afghanistan, along with reports that 9/11 might have been foiled, and ongoing discussion of the legacy of US involvement in Afghanistan.

Violence in Afghanistan

Helicopter Crash In Afghanistan Takes Deadly Toll

31 American troops and 7 Afghans were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan, the highest number of casualties in a single incident since the US-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001.

SEALs' copter downed by 'lucky shot,' U.S. says

The Chinook helicopter that crashed and killed 38 people was likely brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent, according to US military investigators.

2 NATO soldiers killed as Afghan violence flares

One NATO service member was killed by a gunman disguised as an Afghan police officer, and another was killed in an insurgent attack elsewhere in the same region on August 4.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When ‘Military Cuts’ Are Deceiving

Get Ready to Rumble for Jobs,

Not War and More Weapons

By Judith Le Blanc
Beaver County Peace Links via

Something is missing in the swirl of news reporting on the debt ceiling deal struck on August 2 by the Congress and the President for close to $1 trillion in cuts in discretionary programs over the next decade.

Will the 56% of discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon take a hit in the name of deficit reduction?

The short answer is not necessarily, not unless we are ready to rumble.

Even the Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain have no idea what the deal does to the Pentagon budget.

The cruel irony is the debt ceiling deal exempts spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though war costs are one of the biggest factors driving up the national debt by over a trillion dollars.

Caps have been set for 'security and non security' spending. The cuts will follow. The security category lumps together the Pentagon with the State Department, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and nuclear weapons systems.

Right now cuts to the Pentagon budget are not guaranteed. It is threat. Without a grassroots rumble the ax won't fall on the Pentagon or weapons of mass destruction, it will land on veteran's benefits or diplomatic efforts.

It's a fight, not a discussion.

The military budget has doubled in the last 13 years. Up until now there has been a bottomless till for weapons and wars. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of Defense under President Reagan, says, "in real or inflation adjusted dollars it is higher than at any time since World War II, including the Korean and Vietnam wars and the height of the Reagan buildup."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unexpected Outcomes: Why Drones Are a Bad Idea

Hint: Poor Armies Can Make Them, Too


The DIY Terminator: Private Robot Armies

And The Algorithm-Run Future Of War

By Greg Lindsay via Fast Company


1. Attack Of The Drones

Last month, NATO’s commanders in Libya went with caps-in-hand to the Pentagon to ask for reconnaissance help in the form of more Predator drones. “It’s getting more difficult to find stuff to blow up,” a senior NATO officer complained [1] to The Los Angeles Times. The Libyan rebels’ envoy in Washington had already made a similar request. “We can't get rid of [Qaddafi] by throwing eggs at him,” the envoy told the newspaper.

The Pentagon told both camps it would think about it, citing the need for drones in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where Predator strikes have killed dozens this month alone. So why doesn’t NATO or the rebels do what Cote d’Ivoire’s Air Force, Mexican police, and college student peacekeepers have done--buy, rent, or build drones of their own? The development of deadly hardware and software is leading to a democratization of war tech, which could soon mean that every army--private or national--has battalions of automated soldiers at their command.

“Drones are essentially flying--and sometimes armed--computers,” the Brookings Institution noted in a paper [2] published last month. They’re robots who follow the curve of Moore’s Law rather than the Pentagon’s budgets, rapidly evolving in performance since the Predator’s 2002 debut while falling in price to the point where Make magazine recently carried instructions on how to launch your own satellite for $8,000.

“You have high school kids competing in robotics competitions with equipment that 10 years ago would have been considered military-grade,” says Peter W. Singer [3], author of Wired for War and a senior fellow at Brookings, who predicts robots on the battlefield will be a paradigm-shifting “revolution in military affairs.”

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Surveying the Full Cost of Militarism

Living on the Edge

Washington's Wars and Occupations:

Month in Review #75 July 29, 2011

By Nathan Paulsen
Beaver County Peace Links via War Times/Tiempo de Guerras

To supply an army at great distance is to impoverish one’s people… All your strength is spent on the battlefield and the families on the home front are left destitute. -Sun Tzu, The Art of Warfare

During some lively conversation on another sweltering evening in Minneapolis, I was introduced to the concept of the “edge” as a place of unusual creativity in the ecological world. The edge of bioregions, climate zones, and landscapes is the site of the most productive ecological action and a focus for sustainable agriculturalists. Whether it is where a forest meets a prairie, or sloping hills meet the plain, borders are where life in all its splendid diversity tends to congregate, exchange energy, and surprise us with new forms and relationships.

Turn now to the social realm where masses of humanity live on the margins of the dominant order. In the shadow of K Street, corporate fiefdoms and an ascendant Right we suffer intimately the full cost of militarism, empire and all their related pathologies. On the edge of survival - emotional as well as physical - we are just removed enough from the everyday trappings of the colonizing culture(s) that we might develop a critical consciousness capable of imagining alternative worlds. In other words, borders in the political economic landscape are no less a place of uncertainty and creativity than they are in the biological.

The margins making headlines today can be found in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Western invaders cross borders with an endless stream of soldiers and drones; or in Egypt, where a surging popular movement has toppled a dictatorship. They also are right here on our own doorsteps.

I am thinking of the tens of millions of economically vulnerable citizens who are being cut loose from now-slashed social safety nets; and the millions of poor people and people of color who are afflicted by drug wars and racial profiling.

I refuse to ignore the latest case of domestic violence in the local news. I want to examine the conscience of a country that has sent some of our best men and women to fight overseas but will not lift a finger to care for those who return wounded in body and mind. I insist on attention to tipping points where climate change hurls tornadoes down on trailer parks, prized possessions wash away in relentless floods, droughts consume our food before it goes to harvest, and heat waves kill poor elders isolated in dilapidated apartments.

I feel a need to learn from justice-makers on all continents. Humanity-filled public squares in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where people resist despots and their imperial backers. Social movement/electoral party combinations in South America where left leaning governments search for new paths. Strikes and rebellions in Europe where hundreds of thousands fight for dignity and against austerity.

Below are a few of the multitude of stories that could be told this month. They illustrate the slow unraveling of the dominant order on the edge where policy meets ordinary people, war plans are upended and novel social structures arise from the struggle for life. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

War Is Making Us Poor

Cost of War at Least $3.7 Trillion and Counting

By Daniel Trotta
Beaver County Peace Links via Reuters

NEW YORK, June 29, 2011 - When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America's wars.

Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project "Costs of War" by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. (

In the 10 years since U.S. troops went into Afghanistan to root out the al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11, 2001, attacks, spending on the conflicts totaled $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

Those numbers will continue to soar when considering often overlooked costs such as long-term obligations to wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

War Costs Gutting Our Cities

Detroit Shantytown

Will U.S. Mayors Vote Against War?

By Medea Benjamin
Beaver County Peace Links via AlterNet

June 19, 2011 - Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin—a Democrat from Michigan--had just put down the gavel, marking the end of the confirmation hearing for Leon Panetta to be the next Secretary of Defense, when Detroit-born CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry jumped up. “Shame on you, Senator Levin, for supporting endless wars while Detroit is dying,” he shouted. “Your constituents are eating cat food while you’re funding a champagne war.” Levin shook his head in disgust, dismissing Barry as some kind of kook, and walked out of the room.

But Barry’s words ring true. The city of Detroit stands as a mirror to the United States’ battered economy and failing wars. Our nation’s continued military exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan are fueling Detroit’s destruction. Taxpayers from Detroit shell out over two billion dollars a year for war, money that could cover healthcare for over 150,000 children or the payment of some 3,000 teachers’ salaries.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

War and the Power of the Purse

Kucinich Will Force Vote To Cut Off Libya Funding

By Jennifer Bendery
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPost

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced Friday that he plans to offer an amendment to the upcoming Defense spending bill to cut off funding for military operations in Libya—a move that could create political headaches for the White House as well as Republicans.

Kucinich, who earlier this week filed a lawsuit that charges President Barack Obama with illegally initiating military action in Libya without congressional consent, said his amendment will challenge the White House’s argument that bombing operations and support of other countries’ military operations do not constitute war.

“My amendment will provide the first test whether this Congress will defend its own authority under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Congress must use its constitutional authority of the power of the purse to end this war.”

The defense spending bill is expected to hit the House floor in the next few weeks. Current protocol allows lawmakers to offer any amendments to an appropriations bill, so Kucinich's amendment appears poised to sail through to the floor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Happened to ‘Changing The Mindset’ for Getting into Wars?

Obama's Libya Defense Makes

Bush's Lawyers Look Smart

By David Swanson
Beaver County Peace Links via

June 16, 2011 - The arguments made to "legalize" war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and their gang are looking rational, well-reasoned, and impeccably researched in comparison with Obama's latest "legalization" of the Libya War.

Here's the key section from Wednesday's report to Congress:

"Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad. The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision. U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

Whatever the president's "foreign affairs powers" may be, they do not, under the U.S. Constitution, include the power to launch "military operations" or "hostilities" or "wars." Nor has the distinction between "military operations" that involve what ordinary humans call warfare (blowing up buildings with missiles) and "hostilities" that qualify for regulation under the War Powers Resolution been previously established. This distinction is as crazy as any that have come out of U.S. government lawyers in the past.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Libya, a War Nobody Wants

Just 26% Favor Continued Military Action in Libya

Beaver County Peace Links via Rasmussen Reports

June 13, 2011 - A plurality of voters now opposes further U.S. military action in Libya, and most say President Obama needs congressional approval to continue those operations.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters feel the United States should continue its military actions in Libya. Forty-two percent (42%) are opposed and 32% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But 59% agree the president should get the approval of Congress if he wants to continue U.S. military action in Libya. Twenty-one percent (21%) say congressional approval is not needed. Another 20% are not sure.

This marks a jump in support for congressional authorization from mid-March just after the president committed U.S. military forces to helping anti-government rebels in Libya. At that time, 47% said the president should have gotten congressional approval before ordering the military into action in Libya. Thirty-four percent (34%) said the prior approval of Congress was not necessary, but 19% were undecided.

Most voters remain skeptical of how soon U.S. military involvement in Libya will end. Just 32% think it is at least somewhat likely that U.S. military operations in Libya will be over by the end of the year, with 10% who say it is Very Likely. Fifty-four percent (54%), however, think it is unlikely those operations will be done by the close of the year, including 14% who say it is Not At All Likely. Another 14% are not sure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2012 Warning: Voters Want an End to the Wars

The Fight for Peace Heats Up

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via

June 8, 2011 - Sixty-four percent of Americans think the number of troops in Afghanistan should be decreased. (CBS News)The New York Times finally acknowledged this week that a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan is a real possibility being considered by the White House.

In a lead story on June 6, the Times reported that the Obama administration is considering a “steeper” reduction of troops than previously discussed or acknowledged.

The fact is that Democratic constituencies and leaders, responding to overwhelming public sentiment against the war, have been uniting in recent weeks behind a call for “substantial and significant” troops reductions and a transfer of war funds to job creation at home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Antiwar Battleground in the House

GOP Pulls Libya War Powers Resolution
from the Floor Because it Might Pass

By Donny Shaw

June 1, 2011 - The House Republican leadership is worried that Congress might stand up to the Obama Administration and assert its constitutional prerogative as the only branch of government that can declare war. The House was scheduled to vote this afternoon on a a privileged resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] directing the President, pursuant to the War Powers Act, to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya. But the House leadership has pulled it from the floor because, according to Republican aides who spoke with Fox News, “it became clear that it might succeed.”

“[Republican leaders] hadn’t seen much of a threat from [the Kucinich bill]. He’s kind of this marginal figure and having his resolution go down narrowly would be no big deal and might even send a message to the administration,” said one of the Republican aides. “But once they saw that there was substantial support, they were like, ‘Whoa.’”

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, if a President authorizes military action without approval from Congress, they must terminate the action within 60 days unless they get specific approval from Congress, or unless there is a national emergency due to an attack on the U.S. In the case of Libya, the 60-day period has come and gone without any action from Congress, yet, in a direct violation of the law, U.S. military involvement in Libya continues. In fact, it has now been extended for another 90 days.

The Obama Administration argues that Libya is not a U.S. mission. It’s a NATO mission, they say. But as Kucinich points out in a letter to supporters of his resolution, the U.S. is still in charge. “The fact remains that we’re bombing another country and we pay, by far, the largest percentage of NATO’s military bills,” he says. “This is a war that we’re leading – and it’s a war that violates our Constitution and the War Powers Act.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

War Is Making Us Poor

Five Eye-Opening Facts About Our

Bloated Post-9/11 'Defense' Spending

By Joshua Holland
Beaver County Peace Links via AlterNet

May 28, 2011 - This week, the National Priorities Project (NPP) released a snapshot of U.S. “defense” spending since September 11, 2001. The eye-popping figures lend credence to the theory that al Qaeda's attacks were a form of economic warfare – that they hoped for a massive overreaction that would entangle us in costly foreign wars that would ultimately drain away our national wealth.

They didn't bankrupt us the same way the Mujahadeen helped bring down the Soviet Union decades before, because our economy was much stronger. But they did succeed in putting us deep into the red – with an assist, of course, from Bush's ideologically driven tax cuts for the wealthy.

The topline number is this: we have spent $7.6 trillion on the military and homeland security since 9/11. The Pentagon's base budget – which doesn't include the costs of fighting our wars – has increased by 81 percent during that time (43 percent when adjusted for inflation). The costs of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have now reached $1.26 trillion. But that only scratches the surface; it doesn't include the long-term costs of caring for badly wounded soldiers, for example.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dems Evenly Divided on Afghan Vote, with Altmire Siding with Long War Bloc

House Democrats Clamor for U.S.

to Speed Withdrawal from Afghanistan

David Lightman and William Douglas
Beaver County Peace Links via McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON, May 26 2011 - Democrats in House of Representatives sent President Barack Obama a strong message Thursday — speed up U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Though the House's bid to push Obama to expedite the U.S. exit failed, it lost by a surprisingly close 215-204 vote. The outcome, and the fiery debate that preceded it, made it clear that the president's party, as well as a growing number of Republicans, is growing impatient with the almost 10-year-old war as the 2012 election campaign approaches. In all, 178 Democrats and 26 Republicans voted to pressure Obama. Eight Democrats, most from more conservative districts, and 207 Republicans were opposed. Leading the charge to prod the president were the House's top Democratic leaders.

"Americans are paying a big price there, we want to make sure we’re getting a return on that investment, and time is a very important factor,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “It’s time for our troops to come home.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dump This Policy: We Need to Challenge the White House on War Powers

Obama's New View of His Own War Powers

By Glenn Greenwald

Beaver County Peace Links via

Back in January, 2006, the Bush Justice Department released a 42-page memo arguing that the President had the power to ignore Congressional restrictions on domestic eavesdropping, such as those imposed by FISA (the 30-year-old law that made it a felony to do exactly what Bush got caught doing:  eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without warrants).  That occurred roughly 3 months after I began blogging, and -- to my embarrassment now -- I was actually shocked by the brazen radicalism and extremism expressed in that Memo.  It literally argued that Congress had no power to constrain the President in any way when it came to national security matters and protecting the nation.

To advance this defense, Bush lawyers hailed what they called "the President's role as sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs"; said the President’s war power inherently as "Commander-in-Chief" under Article II "includes all that is necessary and proper for carrying these powers into execution"; favorably cited an argument made by Attorney General Black during the Civil War that statutes restricting the President's actions relating to war "could probably be read as simply providing 'a recommendation' that the President could decline to follow at his discretion"; and, as a result of all that, Congress "was pressing or even exceeding constitutional limits" when it attempted to regulate how the President could eavesdrop on Americans.  As a result, the Bush memo argued, the President had the power to ignore the law because FISA, to the extent it purported to restrict the President's war powers, "would be unconstitutional as applied in the context of this Congressionally authorized armed conflict." 

That claim -- that the President and he alone possesses all powers relating to war under the "Commander-in-Chief" clause of Article II -- became the cornerstone of Bush's "ideology of lawlessness."  In a post that same month defining that ideology, I argued that this lawlessness was grounded in the September 25, 2001, War Powers memo by John Yoo, which infamously concluded as follows:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Excuse Not to End Wars Now

With Afghanistan, Now it’s a Critical

Moment of Opportunity for Obama

The president has gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via Los Angles Times

May 5, 2011 - President Obama has now gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. With an average of 30 to 50 Americans being killed each month in Afghanistan, the total will be well over 1,000 on Obama's watch if nothing is done. In addition to saving lives, removing 60,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2011-12 would also save about $70 billion a year in tax dollars.

The targeted killing of Osama bin Laden is powerful evidence that terrorist threats, both real and hypothetical, can be more effectively suppressed by special forces operations than by deploying hundreds of thousands of American soldiers on the ground.

The Bin Laden operation proves that a counterterrorism strategy focusing on intelligence, airstrikes and special forces units, as advocated by people such as Vice President Joe Biden and conservative columnist George Will, would be an effective deterrent against any new clandestine cells seeking to launch attacks against the United States.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden and the Folly of Being Driven by a ‘Search for Monsters’

Bin Laden Is Dead, But Will

the 'Long War' on Terror Live On?

By Tom Hayden
Progressive America Rising via The Nation

May 2, 2011 - The killing of Osama bin Laden is a triumphant moment for President Obama and the CIA, allowing a symbolic claim to victory in the War on Terror, bringing an understandable feeling of closure for the victims of 9/11, and will almost certainly assure the president’s re-election in 2012.

But as I wrote in The Nation in October 2009, however, the death of bin Laden is not likely to end the Long War on Terror, now spreading from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and a dozen other theaters of counterterrorism.

If bin Laden is gone, and his network heavily damaged, what is left of the terrorist threat to our national security that justifies so many trillions of dollars and costs in thousands of lives? Because of a fabricated fear of bin Laden, we invaded Iraq. The invasion of Afghanistan was to deny sanctuaries to bin Laden and Al Qaeda. In response, Al Qaeda moved into Pakistan, where bin Laden was killed tonight. So why are the Taliban in Afghanistan a threat to the security of the United States with bin Laden gone? Surely there are terrorist cells with lethal capacity scattered around the world, surely there might be revenge attacks, but there is hardly a centralized conspiratorial threat that justifies the deployment of hundreds of thousands of American troops.

Now we shall learn whether there is another agenda that keeps 150,000 American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gitmo: Tangled Web of Tortuous Lies

Seven Shocking Gitmo

Revelations from WikiLeaks

By Kase Wickman
Beaver County Peace Links via Raw Story

April 25, 2011 - A massive leak of more than 700 military documents, attributed to infamous transparency group WikiLeaks, was released Sunday night. Much of the new information deals with detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, records that begin immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks and range to 2009, including documents relating to 172 prisoners still held at the controversial detention facility.

Here are seven shocking revelations about Guantanamo Bay and the practices there.

One hundred twenty-seven "high risk" prisoners remain at Guantanamo Bay, but almost as many "high risk" prisoners have been released to other countries or freed, despite being described as "likely to pose a threat." Of the 600 detainees known to have been transferred out of the prison since 2002, 160 fell under the "high risk" categorization, according to NPR. At least two dozen transferred "high risk" prisoners have been linked to terrorist activity since their Gitmo exit, including two Saudis who became leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Progressive Democrats Want a Peace Candidate, Not Three Long Wars

Obama's Decisions on Afghanistan, Iraq,

Pakistan Will Determine Re-Election Chances

By Tom Hayden
Progressive America Rising via The Nation

April 26, 2011 - The president is on the cusp of a decision which will define his presidency and re-election chances in 2012: whether to risk multiple military quagmires or campaign on a decisive pledge to pull American troops out of Afghanistan and Pakistan and drones out of Pakistan and Libya.?

Centrist that he is, President Obama may gamble on a promise to “stay the course.” Sound familiar? All that is known is that the decisions will come quickly.

On Afghanistan, Obama told the Associated Press last Friday that his coming July announcement of troop withdrawals would be “significant…not a token gesture.”

Though the president offered no specific numbers, the phrasing was an important signal, delivered in White House–speak.  According to Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars, the internal debate between the White House and Pentagon over Afghanistan has been intense. When the president announced in a December 2009 West Point speech that he was sending 30-33,000 more American troops in a military surge to Afghanistan, it appeared that the Pentagon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had won the argument. But Obama slipped a hedge into the West Point speech pledging that he would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July 2011.”

What did it mean to “begin” a transfer? When would it end? …

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Romney: War is Peace

Down the Memory Hole ‘Peacetime’ Line

Presumes Ignorance is Strength in 2012

By Jon Walker

Beaver County Peace Links via FireDogLake

April 25 - In an op-ed for the New Hampshire Union Leader, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for a “peacetime spending binge,” as pointed out by Greg Sargent. From the Op-ed:

“Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale. Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history. With its failed stimulus package, its grandiose new social programs, its fervor for more taxes and government regulations, and its hostility toward business, the administration has made the debt problem worse, hindered economic recovery and needlessly cost American workers countless jobs.”

This is a frightening level disconnection from reality from the guy that is supposed to be the most sensible of the Republican candidates.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Values in Iraq: Exporting ‘Democracy’ Without Rights


Stop the Presses, Literally in Iraq

The US military praises Iraqi security forces as they crack down on press freedom.

The US has remained largely silent following Iraq's recent crackdown on press freedom [GALLO/GETTY]

By Nick Turse

Beaver County Peace Links via al-Jazeera

The first months of this year have been grim for free speech in Iraq.

As revolts swept across the Middle East and North Africa, they spread to Iraqi cities and towns, but took on a very different cast.

In February, in places like Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit, protesters took to the streets, intent on reform - focused on ending corruption and the chronic shortages of food, water, electricity and jobs - but not toppling the government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The response by government security forces, who have arrested, beaten, and shot protesters, leaving hundreds dead or wounded, however, was similar to that of other autocratic rulers around the region.

Attacks by Iraqi forces on freedom of the press, in the form of harassment, detention, and assaults on individual journalists, raids of radio stations, the offices of newspapers and press freedom groups have also shown the dark side of Maliki's regime.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Note to Obama: Get Out Now!

Here’s More Than You Probably

Wanted to Know About Afghanistan

Beaver County Peace Links via UFPJ’s Afghan War Weekly
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times [April 10, 2011]
---- "We have 18 pax [passengers] dismounted and spreading out at this time," an Air Force pilot said from a cramped control room at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, 7,000 miles away. He was flying a Predator drone remotely using a joystick, watching its live video transmissions from the Afghan sky and radioing his crew and the unit on the ground. None of those Afghans was an insurgent. They were men, women and children going about their business, unaware that a unit of U.S. soldiers was just a few miles away, and that teams of U.S. military pilots, camera operators and video screeners had taken them for a group of Taliban fighters. The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe.,0,2818134,full.story
Brandon Barrett's War
The Army didn't tell anyone about a disturbed AWOL soldier until it was too late.
By Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly [April 13 2011]
---- Brandon Barrett, who killed at least two enemy fighters during his yearlong tour, didn't seem to fare badly, however. During a post-deployment health screening last summer, he told doctors only that he was a bit nervous, could be startled from time to time, and had seen lots of dead people. Otherwise, he was fine, he added, and certainly not suicidal. But doctors, according to a 200-page Army report on Barrett's case obtained exclusively by Seattle Weekly, worried he was keeping his real feelings to himself.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Libya: A Deal in the Works? Or Will NATO Veto It?

Libya: Gaddafi government accepts truce plan, says South Africa’s Zuma

BBC Report, April 11, 2011

South African President Jacob Zuma says the Libyan government has accepted an African Union peace proposal to end the eight-week-old conflict.

Mr Zuma's AU delegation met Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on Sunday. An AU team is going to the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

But rebel spokesmen said there could be no truce unless Col Gaddafi stepped down and his forces withdrew.

In Ajdabiya, pro-Gaddafi forces have pushed back rebels in fierce fighting.

Nato says its planes destroyed 25 government tanks on Sunday alone.

The alliance said it had "taken note" of the AU initiative and welcomed efforts to save Libyan civilians.

The AU deal's main points are:

  • An immediate ceasefire
  • The unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid
  • Protection of foreign nationals
  • A dialogue between the government and rebels on a political settlement
  • The suspension of Nato airstrikes

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chomsky on Libya: The Issue is Control

Rebel guarding oil field in Eastern Libya

Libya and the World of Oil

By Noam Chomsky
Beaver County Peace Links via

April 5, 2011 - Last month, at the international tribunal on crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor came to an end.

The chief prosecutor, U.S. law professor David Crane, informed The Times of London that the case was incomplete: The prosecutors intended to charge Moammar Gadhafi, who, Crane said, “was ultimately responsible for the mutilation, maiming and/or murder of 1.2 million people.”

But the charge was not to be. The U.S., U.K. and others intervened to block it. Asked why, Crane said, “Welcome to the world of oil.”

Another recent Gadhafi casualty was Sir Howard Davies, the director of the London School of Economics, who resigned after revelations of the school’s links to the Libyan dictator.

In Cambridge, Mass., the Monitor Group, a consultancy firm founded by Harvard professors, was well paid for such services as a book to bring Gadhafi’s immortal words to the public “in conversation with renowned international experts,” along with other efforts “to enhance international appreciation of (Gadhafi’s) Libya.”

The world of oil is rarely far in the background in affairs concerning this region.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Libya: Obama's Tangled Web Is Unraveling

The CIA, the Libyan Rebellion, and the President

By David Bromwich
Beaver county Peace Links via Huffington Post -03/31/11
One of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to say that Guantanamo must go. It did not go. Soon after, he said that the Israeli settlements must go. They expanded. Obama made his peace in the end with Guantanamo and the Israeli settlements. He restarted the military tribunals at Guantanamo -- a feature of the Bush-Cheney constitution which he once had explicitly deplored -- and recently went out of his way to defend the Guantanamo-like abuse (compulsory nakedness and sleep deprivation) inflicted on an American prisoner, Bradley Manning, in the Marine Corps brig at Quantico.
One had come to think of "X must go" assertions by Obama as speculative prefaces to a non-existent work. His words, in his mind, are actions. When he speaks them once or twice, he has done what he was put here to do. If the existing powers defy his wishes, he embraces the powers and continues on his way.
The Egyptian protest of January and February saw a new siege of wishful commandments and reversals by the president. He told Mubarak to go. Then he told him to stay a while. Mubarak said he would stay, but after a time, he went; and in the mind of Obama, it appears, there was a relation of cause and effect between his initial request and the final result. He was consequently emboldened.
He said that Muammar Gaddafi must go. Gaddafi stayed. When the protest that gathered against Gaddafi would not disperse, the dictator shot at the protesters; and when some of them turned to armed rebellion, he went to war against the rebels. Obama for his part seemed ready to retire from an unpromising scene. His dryly prudent secretary of defense encouraged him to do so.
Then other forces intervened.

Libya Bombing: The Rotten Deal Under the Perfumed Package

Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal


By Pepe Escobar
via Asia Times Online: April 2, 2011

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online. According to diplomatic protocol, their names cannot be disclosed. One of the diplomats said, "This is the reason why we could not support resolution 1973. We were arguing that Libya, Bahrain and Yemen were similar cases, and calling for a fact-finding mission. We maintain our official position that the resolution is not clear, and may be interpreted in a belligerent manner."

As Asia Times Online has reported, a full Arab League endorsement of a no-fly zone is a myth. Of the 22 full members, only 11 were present at the voting. Six of them were Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the US-supported club of Gulf kingdoms/sheikhdoms, of which Saudi Arabia is the top dog. Syria and Algeria were against it. Saudi Arabia only had to "seduce" three other members to get the vote.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Many Americans Unhappy with Attacks on Libya

How Many Should Die To Send Qaddafi to the Hague?

By Robert Naiman

Beaver County Peace Links via DailyKOS

Here is a question I would like pollsters to ask American voters about the Libya War:

Is sending Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court a military objective worth having American troops "fight and possibly die" for?

I haven't seen any pollster ask this question. Indeed, the fact that sending Qaddafi to the Hague is a de facto military goal of the United States in Libya isn't even being clearly acknowledged yet in the U.S. media.

However, we can make an educated guess what he response might be, because a Quinnipiac University poll recently asked some questions that are closely related.

Voters say 61 - 30 percent that removing Qaddafi from power is not worth having American troops "fight and possibly die" for, the poll reports.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Humanitarian Hawks: A Peek Behind the Curtains

Samantha Power Goes to War

Photo: Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power


By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising via the Nation

March 30, 2011 - Barack Obama’s war in Libya bears the intellectual imprint of Samantha Power, the Dublin-born human rights author who has risen to visible prominence in the White House hierarchy.

Power, who received a Pulitzer Prize for her 2003 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, came of age as a freelance reporter during the Bosnian wars, when she was in her early twenties. From there she attended Yale and Harvard Law School, becoming executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. She is married to Obama appointee Cass Sunstein.

Power has made a remarkable career recovery since calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential primaries. She resigned from the Obama campaign after that comment, but has returned to become a special assistant to the president and member of his National Security Council.

Over a long conversation with Power in December 2003, I was struck by the generational factor in her thinking. If she had experienced Vietnam in her early twenties, I felt, she would have joined the radical left, suspicious always of American power. But as an Irish internationalist witnessing death and destruction in the former Yugoslavia, she wondered how the United States could be neutral. She strongly favored the American intervention and air war that followed. I asked whether she would have favored the Clinton administration sending combat troops to battle the Serbs, a scenario which was in the works when Russia pulled its support from Belgrade, effectively ending that war. I didn’t get an answer, only the promise of “a long conversation” in the future.