Thursday, April 21, 2016

Barbara Lee Recognizes Vietnam Peace Movement In House Resolution

By Tom Hayden
Democracy Journal
April 21, 2016 - Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a House Resolution (H.Res.695) recognizing the Vietnam anti-war movement as, “one of the largest and most prolonged efforts to achieve peace and justice in recent generations and was critical to bringing an end to the war.” Rep. John Conyers became a co-sponsor as an effort begins to seek endorsements from other congressional representatives.
The Lee resolution is a direct result of last year’s May 1-2 commemoration of the movement at a conference in Washington DC. 
The peace resolution will draw the ire of Republicans and reluctance of some Democrats. The Vietnam peace movement is the only Sixties movement that has been marginalized instead of memorialized. Yet it was a life-changing experience for many during the war, including thousands of soldiers and veterans, and the US government has tried to stamp out what they call “the Vietnam Syndrome.”

The Lee Resolution is an organizing tool for anyone wanting to respond to the Pentagon’s recent false narrative of history on its website. If grass-roots organizers visit, engage and petition their congressional offices, there is a strong chance for reinvigorating the continuing debate over Vietnam. 

Next site of the debate: April 26-28th in Austin, Texas, the Vietnam War Summit presented by the LBJ Presidential Library, with a keynotes by Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, and panel with Tom Hayden, Marilyn Young, and David Maraniss titled, "The War At Home".

Also join me May 7 at Skylight Books in LA for my conversation with  this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, author Viet Thanh Nguyen while we discuss his new book NOTHING EVER DIES: VIETNAM AND THE MEMORY OF WAR. (Text of Resolution Below)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kurds are now key to a Middle East solution



Powers great and small must contend with group’s demands as never before, writes Henri Barkey

By Henri Barkey
Financial Times
Feb 25, 2016 - The Kurds have never been as influential in the Middle East as they are today. They hold the balance of power in Iraq and Syria, and are in the midst of an insurrection in Turkey. But this Kurdish awakening is different from previous ones — in Iraq in the 1970s or Turkey in the 1990s. Powers great and small have to contend with Kurdish demands as never before.

The US finds itself reluctantly drawn into this Kurdish denouement; it needs the Kurds as much as it needs the Turks in its efforts to defeat Isis, the jihadi group. Yet America’s primary ally in Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD), is being bombarded by its longstanding Nato ally, Turkey. The PYD has proven itself to be the most, if not the only, effective force against Isis; almost all the territory the jihadis have lost since conquering parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 has been to PYD militias working in tandem with the US air force. The Turks consider the PYD, which is intimately linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), as nothing more than a terrorist organisation.
While the US cannot satisfy all parties, the current conundrum also offers opportunities to Washington to push for a grand bargain between Turkey on the one hand and the Syrian and Turkish Kurds on the other that would benefit all sides involved in the region, as well as the US and its struggle against Isis.

There is also a sense of urgency as Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mired in his own controversial effort to transform the Turkish republic from a parliamentary system into a presidential one that would give him wide if not unlimited powers, engages in a dangerous game of brinkmanship.

He has raised the political ante not just by shelling PYD positions in Syria — shells are designed to hurt the PYD as much as disrupt the PYD-American relationship — but also attributing a recent terrorist attack in Ankara to the PYD, despite the latter’s denials and the rest of the world’s disbelief. Turkey does not want to differentiate between the PKK and the PYD, despite the efforts of PYD leader Salih Muslim to convince the Turks that the group has no design on Turkish territory and, on the contrary, seeks to co-operate with Ankara.

What worries Mr Erdogan is that in three of the countries with sizeable Kurdish minorities — Turkey, Iraq and Syria — the Kurds are on the move. Only in Iran has the regime been more or less successful in holding down overt manifestations of Kurdish nationalism, and then only through repression.