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.