Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finding a Way Out of the Slaughter

China stands for 5 principles in a political settlement of the Syrian issue

By Wang Yi – Jan 21, 2014

First, the issue of Syria must be resolved through political means.

China welcomes and supports the convocation of Geneva II on 22 January 2014. This will be an important opportunity to promote the political settlement of the Syrian issue. China calls on all parties in Syria to actively participate in Geneva II.

Military action is no answer to the issue of Syria. All parties should voice their demands through dialogue and negotiation rather than seeking gains through armed conflict. We call on all parties in Syria to seize the opportunity presented by Geneva II, commit themselves to the full, balanced and effective implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, and support and work closely with the UN Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria in their mediation efforts.

The meeting in Geneva, marking the beginning of dialogue and negotiation, should be an ongoing process. Thus, a clearly defined follow-up mechanism is needed to keep the dialogue, negotiation and other political efforts going. It is essential that negotiation is not just launched, but more importantly pushed forward until practical results are achieved. The meeting in Geneva should be an open platform and the door of peace talks should be open to all parties in Syria committed to a political settlement so that they will take an active part in the process and play their role.

While dialogue and negotiation are going on, all parties in Syria must put an end to all armed conflict and violence, taking credible and visible actions such as humanitarian pause, ceasefire region by region or phase by phase, and disengagement as first steps to build and enhance mutual trust. The international community should provide assistance within the UN framework to support and monitor the ceasefire.

Second, the future of Syria must be decided by its own people.

To resolve the issue of Syria, efforts must be made at the domestic, regional and international levels. The political transition process in Syria must be Syrian-led, and the future of Syria, ultimately, can only be decided by the Syrian people themselves.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Larger Picture, and the Futility, of the Killing in Afghanistan

For Whom the Bell Tolls

By Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly's ZSpace Page / ZSpace

Jan 20, 2014 - Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. ... A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. – “A Time to Break Silence (Beyond Vietnam)” Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967

This month, from Atlanta, GA, the King Center announced its "Choose Nonviolence" campaign, a call on people to incorporate the symbolism of bell-ringing into their Martin Luther King Holiday observance, as a means of showing their commitment to Dr. King's value of nonviolence in resolving terrible issues of inequality, discrimination and poverty here at home. The call was heard in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On the same day they learned of the King Center's call, the young members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, in a home I was sharing with them in Kabul, were grieving the fresh news of seven Afghan children and their mother, killed in the night during a U.S. aerial attack - part of a battle in the Siahgird district of the Parwan province. The outrage, grief, loss and pain felt in Siahgird were echoed, horribly, in other parts of Afghanistan during a very violent week.

My young friends, ever inspired by Dr. King's message, prepared a Dr. King Day observance as they shared bread and tea for breakfast. They talked about the futility of war and the predictable cycles of revenge that are caused every time someone is killed. Then they made a poster listing each of the killings they had learned of in the previous seven days.

They didn't have a bell, and they didn’t have the money to buy one. So Zekerullah set to work with a bucket, a spoon and a rope, and made something approximating a bell. In the APV courtyard, an enlarged vinyl poster of Dr. King covers half of one wall, opposite another poster of Gandhi and Khan Abdul Gaffir Khan, the "Muslim Gandhi" who led Pathan tribes in the nonviolent Khudai Khidmatgar colonial independence movement to resist the British Empire. Zekerullah's makeshift "bell' was suspended next to King's poster. Several dozen friends joined the APVs as we listened to rattles rather than pealing bells. The poster listing the week's death toll was held aloft and read aloud.

They read:
"January 15, 2014: 7 children, one woman, Siahgird district of Parwan, killed by the U.S./NATO. January 15, 2014, 16 Taliban militants, killed by Afghan police, army and intelligence operatives across seven regions, Parwan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Kandahar, Zabul, Logar, and Paktiya. January 12, 2014: 1 police academy student and one academy staff member, killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul on the road to Jalalabad. Jan 9, 2014: 1 four year old boy killed in Helmand, by NATO. Jan 9, 2014: 7 people, several of them police, killed in Helmand by unknown suicide bombers. January 7, 2014: 16 militants killed by Afghan security forces in Nangarhar, Logar, Ghanzi, Pakitya, Heart and Nimroz."

We couldn't know, then, that within two days news would come, with a Taliban announcement claiming responsibility, of 21 people, 13 foreigners and eight Afghans, killed while dining in, or guarding, a Kabul restaurant. The Taliban said that the attack was in retaliation for the seven children killed in the airstrike in Parwan.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why the U.S. Wants to Stay in Afghanistan

The U.S. is supposed to withdraw troops by the end of the year, and the American people overwhelmingly want us to leave, but President Obama intends to retain a military presence.

By Jack A. Smith 

Beaver County Peace Links via The Rag Blog

Jan 13, 2014 - The U.S. is supposed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of this new year. But despite public opinion polls to the contrary, President Obama is seeking to leave several thousand Special Forces troops, military trainers, CIA personnel, “contractors” and surveillance listening posts for 10 more years in Afghanistan until the end of 2024.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Dec. 30 shows that 75% of the American people oppose keeping any U.S. military troops in Afghanistan after the scheduled pullout Dec. 31. Indeed, “a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.”
The poll’s most important statistic is that “Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland suggested the17% support was the lowest for any U.S. ongoing war.

A majority of Americans turned against the war against Afghanistan a few years go, but according to a Associated Press-GfK poll released Dec. 18 — these days 57% say that even attacking and invading Afghanistan in 2001 was probably the “wrong thing to do.”

Clearly, the American people are truly fed up, but do not have a viable electoral alternative to a continuing military presence in Afghanistan. The era of the mass antiwar movement, which was supported by the great majority of Democrats, collapsed when Democrat Obama was elected. Democrats may acknowledge their views to pollsters but they rarely attend protests against Obama’s Afghan adventure or drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.