Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where Are We At, Where Are We Headed? A Study Guide…


Ideas about Antiwar, Antimilitarist Strategies for the Years Ahead

Written by War Times
07 April 2012

As the global and U.S. political landscape shifts, a new round of strategic discussion is taking place in many sectors of the antiwar movement. Below are the key assessment points and questions used by War Times to kick off our collective's effort to (1) take stock of the current volatile moment and (2) look for effective paths forward. The third part of this discussion paper is a short essay on antimilitarist strategies by War Timer Lynn Koh that expresses some of what we felt were the most useful ideas coming out of our deliberations. We are sharing this material in hopes of pushing forward a much-needed dialogue not only among activists who are focused mainly on antiwar and international solidarity efforts, but also with grassroots organizers whose work is mainly in other movements but who see the importance of making opposition to war, empire and militarism an integral part of a revitalized U.S. progressive movement. –Max Elbaum, Francesca Fiorentini, Rebecca Gordon, Hany Khalil and Lynn Koh for War Times

1. Taking stock of the big picture: What can we expect on the war/peace/militarism front in the post-Iraq War, new-U.S.-military-doctrine, continuing-Great-Recession years ahead?

The U.S. is an empire in decline. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, intended to be the first steps in securing a whole new level of U.S. global hegemony (and right-wing rule at home) instead over-stretched Washington militarily, financially and politically and accelerated the empire's downward trend. In the wake of these wars and the 2008 financial-then-economic crisis, the U.S. elite is adjusting its strategies to maximize U.S. clout in the period ahead.

The elite is united on the maintenance of U.S. military superiority over all rivals (combined) and the willingness to employ force and threats of force as a key part of its global arsenal. But it is badly divided over how adventurous to be in waging war (especially regarding deployment of ground combat troops) and how unilateral to be. The new military doctrine initiated by Obama, which stresses "rebalancing" toward Asia and use of drones and special operations over deployment of ground troops represents the "realist" strategy for the next stage. The Neocon faction, now out of power, wants much more aggressive use of force particularly in the Middle East; and their crusade is bolstered by the fact that a significant swatch of the white population has embraced a racist 'clash of civilizations' zealotry which sees white Christian-Jewish civilization pitted against a whole range of dangerous anti-American, anti-Western Civilization, anti-Israel "others" ranging from Al-Qaeda to Obama.

Under these circumstances, "low level" wars, expansion of military bases and threats against other countries (in Africa and Latin America as well as in the Asia/the Pacific region and the Middle East) will likely be constant features of the decades ahead. And there will be a near-constant danger of larger scale wars pushed by the far right as well. The kind of push is taking place right now with the right's crusade for an attack on Iran.

Simultaneously, the military-industrial complex and the militarist approaches to human relations it advocates will buttress regressive policies and structures on all fronts of social struggle. Military spending and militarist hostility to "enemies" drain resources from social programs; bolster the elite's austerity-for-the-masses program; distort the economy generally; foster racist, anti-immigrant and sexist views and practices; are key excuses to curtail civil liberties, and are a major force in continuing dependence on fossil fuels and threatening environmental disaster. In other words, militarism as both an institutional reality and set of ideas is an obstacle not only to peaceful relations among nations and peoples but to all social progress.

Questions: What do things look like on the war/peace/militarism front over the next 5-10 years? What impact will the 2012 election campaign, and its potential outcomes, have on what lies ahead? Readings:

Bob Wing, The Arab Spring and the Changing Dynamics of Global Struggle

Max Elbaum, Fighting for Peace Against an Empire in Decline

Tom Hayden, End to Long War Doctrine?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Labor Coalition Warns Against War With Iran


By Roger Bybee
Beaver County Peace Links via In These Times

US Labor Against the War says "it is time to invest at home"

A broad coalition of influential labor organizations and leaders is urging the Obama administration to avoid any steps that would escalate tensions with Iran, which allegedly poses a nuclear threat in the near future. US Labor Against the War—which is independent of U.S. unions but affiliated with scores of unions and labor councils around the country—is alarmed both by the potential for a catastrophic U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran, and the resulting drain on resources needed to rebuild America's economy.

The USLAW statement highlights the human costs of yet another U.S. assault, but also stresses how an attack on Iran would rob U.S. workers of the resources needed to rebuild an economy still wracked by high unemployment and falling wages.

USLAW declared in a statement last month:

“    the AFL-CIO National Executive Council said in its statement on jobs and labor’s agenda on August 3, 2011: "There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home."

    …the budget crises at federal, state and local levels and their devastating consequences for working people make all the more urgent reductions in U.S. military operations and expenditures, and the transfer of those funds to meet pressing domestic needs…

Yet momentum continues to build for an attack on Iran, with Republican presidential candidates taunting the Obama administration as insufficiently tough toward Iran and supposedly hostile to Israel.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Note to Obama: We Need a Peace Candidate

A Protest of NATO From NATO Countries

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPost

Peace movements in every country are raising their voices against the war in Afghanistan in advance of the May 18-20 NATO summit in Chicago. Some will converge on Chicago, while others will march in NATO capitols. Around two-thirds of the public in NATO countries now opposes the war, and most of their governments are anxious to withdraw if a face-saving path can be found.

The Obama administration and its allies are scrambling to showcase an announcement of progress before the Chicago summit gathering, which thousands of journalists are planning to cover. The administration already has relocated the G-8 summit on the world fiscal crisis, originally planned at the same time, to the secure seclusion of Camp David.

To support a peace petition by citizens of NATO countries, please sign here.

The administration faces a growing reality of quagmire, possibly even deeper chaos, in Afghanistan. Sixty-nine percent of Americans say the U.S. "should not be involved", a jump of 16 percent from last year. The percentages tend to be even higher in NATO countries.

A March 7 New York Times headline, "Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy", summarizes the terminal ineptitude of the Karzai regime. According to NATO data, only one of the Afghan army's 158 battalions is able to fight on their own, up from zero last year. (New York Times, March 16, 2012) Meanwhile those same Afghan soldiers and police are "killing their colleagues among the international military force here at an alarming rate", according to another New York Times report. (March 28, 2012) One result of the deepening quagmire has been a collapse of U.S. military morale and discipline, as seen in widely-publicized cases of American soldiers burning Qurans, urinating on dead bodies, and a shooting spree against innocent Afghan villagers. The suicide rate in the American armed forces is at a historic high.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Where Can We Find a Congressman to Speak for the Antiwar Majority?

CNN Poll: Afghan War Support Hits New Low

Beaver County Peace Links via CNN Political Unit

(CNN, April 2) - Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001.

Just 37% of the general public said things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while only 34% said America is winning the war. The approval likely contributed to the 55% of those surveyed who said the U.S. should remove all of its troops from the country before 2014.

Twenty-two percent expressed support for the 2014 timetable and an additional 22% said the U.S. should keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Leaders at the Pentagon have recently responded to low poll numbers by stressing the importance of fighting the war on the ground.

"We cannot fight wars by polls," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday. "If we do that we're in deep trouble. We have to operate based on what we believe is the best strategy to achieve the mission that we are embarked on. And the mission here is to safeguard our country by ensuring that the Taliban and al Qaeda never again find a safe haven in Afghanistan."

The poll, conducted for CNN by ORC International, surveyed 1,014 American adults by telephone between March 24 and March 25 with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.