Sunday, December 14, 2008

10-7-08 Statement of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan

To the best of my knowledge, RAWA has been one of the most consistent voices for women's rights and for democracy in Afghanistan. They opposed the Oct. 2001 US invasion and ensuing occupation, because of the devastation and death they believe it would bring to the Afghan people. Sadly, the US occupation that RAWA opposed then and opposes now is the same occupation that President-Elect Obama intends to continue and intensify*. The following are excerpts from the Oct. 7, 2008 statement (source: http://www.rawa.org/events/sevenyear_e.htm, accessed 12/14/08) of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) on the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan. I encourage you to read the entire statement.

"Neither the US nor Jehadies and Taliban, Long Live the Struggle of Independent and Democratic Forces of Afghanistan!

Seven years back the US government and its allies were successfully able to legitimize their military invasion on Afghanistan and deceive the people of the US and the world under the banners of “liberating Afghan women”, “democracy” and “war on terror”. Our people, who had been tormented and oppressed by the Taliban’s dominance, were filled with hope but soon their dream of the establishment of security, democracy and freedom was shattered in the most painful manner.

By the installation of the puppet government of Karzai, the US reused its creations and continued its deal with the Jehadi criminal warlords. From the very start, Mr. Karzai shunned the demands and trusts of the people and chose to compromise with the criminals of the “Northern Alliance” and placed the filthiest faces in the key posts of the government. In contradiction to the shameless claims of the ministers and other treacherous and corrupt officials, our people feel more ill-fated; the country has been turned to a mafia state and self-immolation, rape and abduction of women and children has no parallel in the history of Afghanistan

The day to day expansion of the power of Taliban reflects the real nature of the “war on terror” which has empowered the roots of fundamentalist terrorism more than ever. This is only a showcase to justify the long military presence of the US in our country and in the region.

Instead of removing the cancerous lump of the Taliban and their Jehadi brothers from the framework of Afghanistan, the troops of the US and its allies are bombarding wedding and joy parties and showering bullets on our oppressed people, especially women and children. Furthermore, when such crimes are exposed they shamelessly and haughtily deny them, and when the matter is proved, an arrogant “sorry” is offered, which pours more salt on the wounds of the people.

As we have declared many times, the US government has no and will not have any genuine concern for the condition of freedom, democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan. It is ready to accept a more corrupt, destructive and anti-democratic government than the one in power now, provided that its stooges are the rulers. Therefore today, some top criminals are being consistently freed from the prison. This clearly shows that “democracy” and “freedom of women” do not hold even an iota of value for the US administration and its allies in Afghanistan.

Forgetting their foremost duty of giving awareness, a portion of the intellectuals of our country are engaged in shameful deeds of creating and igniting the ethnic, religious and linguistic differences among people on which the occupations are pouring fuel too. Some have taken this to such a level of disgrace that they believe the Taliban to be the rescuing forces; and the band of the murderers and agents of the “National Front”, and the groups attached to the US and NATO to be the sources of prosperity.

The Afghan intellectuals who see the remedy of freedom from the captivity of Taliban and Jehadis as leaning on the US have no idea about the history of the US; more importantly about the bourn of Afghanistan in the past seven years. Neither can they present a single example of a country that had gained freedom and democracy with the help of the US military invasion nor can they bury the secrets of the bloody wars and invasions of the US in different parts of the world. Thus, the mentioned intellectuals are practically known as “agents of CIA” in the political scenario of Afghanistan.

RAWA strongly believes that there should be no expectation of either the US or any other country to present us with democracy, peace and prosperity. Our freedom is only achievable at the hands of our people. It is the duty of all the intellectuals, all the democratic forces and progressive and independence-seeking people to rise in a constant and decisive struggle for independence and democracy by taking the support of our wounded people as the independent force, against the presence of the US and its allies and the domination of Jehadi and Taliban criminals. Combating against the armed and alien forces in the country without being loud-mouthed against the Talibi and Jehadi enemies would mean welcoming the misfortunes of fascism and religious mafia. Also, struggling against this enemy without fighting the military presence of the US, its allies and its puppet government would mean falling before foreign agents. The path of the freedom-fighters of our country without doubt, will be very complex, difficult and bloody; but if our demand is to be freed from the chains of the slavery of foreigners and their Talib and Jehadi lackeys, we should not fear trial or death to become triumphant."
*See website of the Office of the President-Elect, http://change.gov/agenda/foreign_policy_agenda/ (see section, "Afghanistan and Pakistan", accessed 12/14/08), and, http://change.gov/agenda/iraq_agenda/ (accessed 12/14/08).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama's intent to persist in an illegal U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan

Sadly, it seems that doing the right thing with regards to Afghanistan is the opposite of what President-Elect Barack Obama plans to do. How do I know what Obama intends to do? Obama's web site makes it plain - go to the web site of the "Office of the President-Elect", http://change.gov/agenda/foreign_policy_agenda/ (I accessed it today- 12/11/08) and it states: "Obama and Biden will refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security -- the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will increase our troop levels in Afghanistan...."

The above statement, seen on Obama's web site, is a declaration that President-Elect Obama intends to persist in illegal and unwarranted U.S. military action (including occupation) in Afghanistan, thus perpetuating the scourge of American militarism, like so many presidents before him, Republican and Democrat. This is NOT "change we can believe in". No. It's "same-old, same-old that we thought would happen." Obama, like other presidents before him, would tell you that America believes in the "rule of law". But also like so many presidents before him, at the level of foreign policy, will behave as if America really believes that it is "above the law". Additionally, Obama's pledged policy for Afghanistan is highly likely to result in increasing recruits to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and will thus make America far more vulnerable to terrorist attacks than it ever was before 9/11.

The United States had no business invading a sovereign nation which had NOT invaded the United States nor taken any military action against the United States. Additionally, neither did the Taliban government (to the best I've been able to learn) have any material involvement in the planning or carrying out of the 9/11 attacks.

And, should anyone be tempted the Bush administration's argument that because the Taliban refused to extradite bin Laden to the U.S. for trial, that therefore (as Bush proclaimed) we (the U.S.) will treat terrorists and the states that harbor terrorists in the same way -- it is a documented fact that the U.S. has reserved to itself the right to not extradite individuals accused of terrorism when requested to do so by foreign governments, so that those individuals could be put on trial. Therefore, using the fact that the Taliban did not unconditionally and immediately extradite bin Ladin to the U.S. military as justification for military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is just plain old hypocrisy.

It bothers and completely baffles me that a person like Barack Obama, so good, (it seems to me) in so many ways, will not take a stand, on principal, against the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Again, to the best that I've been able to determine, the Taliban government in Afghanistan (as bad as it was) did NOT help plan, much less help carry out, the 9/11 attacks.

The United States' invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is wrong on more levels than this blog entry can fully explore. I will, though, point the reader to two sources of information as a start: "Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War" (article found at http://www.alternet.org/audits/93473/afghanistan:_the_other_illegal_war/?page=entire, written by Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists) and, "Operation Enduring Freedom: A Retrospective" (article found at http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3616, written by Stephen Zunes, Middle-East editor for the Foreign Policy In Focus Project. He is a professor of politics and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism).

I welcome comments to this blog post. I am aware that what I've written here may anger Obama supporters. For those of you that may feel that way, I urge you to put aside political partisanship, and try to look at the matter objectively from the standpoint of international law. If a reader of this blog post of mine can show me that the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan known as "Operation Enduring Freedom", commenced under George W. Bush's administration, and which Obama pledges to continue and increase, is LEGAL under international law, I am wide open to seeing the evidence you have, and if you can convince me, I will publicly repudiate what I've written in this blog post. Please enter your inputs via the "Comment" functionality, under this blog posting.

I understand that an argument could be made that a McCain victory likely would have been nearly incalculably worse in its impact than the Obama victory we got. I agree with this. But-on the other hand, I beleve that when it comes to foreign policy, Obama is, in principle, the same as John McCain...i.e., that both McCain and Obama believe the United States is above the law (both its own law and international law) when it comes to getting its way, internationally. This must stop because it's WRONG. It must also stop if you, I, our children, and our grandchildren are to be able to live in a truly secure America.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scenes from Afghanistan, the so-called 'Good War'

Noam Chomsky reminds his readers about the importance of not consigning recent events to oblivion if we have any hope of making lasting, positive changes in the way Americans think and most importantly in the way that the US government acts. I think that the US "Operation Enduring Freedom" is a key subject for Chomsky's advice. As far as I know, the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 was illegal from an international law standpoint, and possibly illegal from US law standpoint as well, depending on what aspects of the just-mentioned international laws had been previously ratified by the US Congress. It also appears to me to be illegal in a number of the ways that it is conducted. So, to serve as a visual reminder of the "recent past", today I added a slideshow to the left-hand sidebar of this blog site. The pictures, as far as I could tell, are for the most part from the initial US invasion of Afghanistan, in 2001. The source for these photos is: http://www.robert-fisk.com/, accessed 11/29/08.

However: it should be noted that that the site from which I got the pictures, is NOT, by its own admission Robert Fisk's official Website. It was created by a group of individuals who share Fisk's views. From their "About Us" page: "Please note that this is not Robert Fisk's official Website. He is neither connected to it in any way nor does he have an interest in it. This Website has been created by a group of individuals who share views of Robert Fisk. It is meant to provide easy access to his articles, reports and related material."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fri., Nov. 21, 2008: Eau Claire's first Iraq Moratorium demonstration!

I can say that Eau Claire's people for peace, including Voices For Peace Institute, had a successful "first run"! Through the course of the 2 hours (4pm to 6pm), Tom Ahrens (Voices For Peace Institute and also Iraq Moratorium representative) counted 30 total participants (i.e., this is not the greatest number of folks present at one time, but, rather, a total count of people who participated over the course of the two hours).

I'm very encouraged about this because we only had from Nov. 11 (the day after Steve Carlson's presentation at UWEC) to plan and promote. Thanks to Tom Ahrens as well as two other participants, we have some photos! Also: see a write-up about us under "Eau Claire", at: http://iraqmoratoriumwis.blogspot.com/2008/11/reports-from-field-nov-21-actions.html













Thursday, November 13, 2008

1:9:1

The other night when meeting with friends we were talking on how to reach people who are not necessarily against this war. One friend brought up a very interesting point. Most people think of wars in terms of the way wars were once fought, not the way that modern warfare has evolved. 
Back in "conventional" wars like WW1 and WWII the ratio of for civilian to soldier death was about 1 civilian for every nine soldiers. In this era of modern wars with smart bombs, shock and awe etc. the ratio is more like 9 civilians to each soldiers death. Today's wars are creating enemies in far larger numbers than we can kill them.

Reason enough for me to rethink how we choose to handle our international issues!
-saw-

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I took the pledge today!

That is, the Iraq Moratorium Pledge... I went to http://www.iraqmoratorium.com/, and made it official!

"I hereby make a commitment that, on the Third Friday of every month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq."

Besides also participating in group actions, with others in Eau Claire WI (and environs) who have also taken the pledge, I'm looking forward to doing stuff on the individual level, too!
Some ideas for individual actions can be seen at: http://www.iraqmoratorium.com/indiv_actions.htm

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Real Change Trickles Up"

I was both challenged and inspired by an Oct. 18 post on Huffington Post called "Real Change Trickles Up", by Eugene Jarecki - (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eugene-jarecki/real-change-trickles-up_b_135822.html)In the post, Jarecki opens by writing:

"I'm compelled to remind myself amid this economic emergency that crises can indeed be therapeutic. When the body politic of the American system takes a shock like that currently affecting the country, pain, as it were, can lead to gain. But only in the right circumstances. What are these? And what can we do in November and beyond to reap any benefit from the problems we face?"

He further writes:
"...we all implicitly know that real change - like economic prosperity -- is not trickle-down; it comes from below, requiring massive investment and sacrifice by everyday people that goes far beyond the effort of casting a ballot. Don't get me wrong. Voting is essential. But unless we see our vote as part of a commitment to involve ourselves consistently and unrelentingly in the political process, our vote is wasted."
(Read Jarecki's full post to find out more about why).

I confess that for many, many years of my life, I pretty much saw "voting" as the biggest thing I could do to participate in the political process (aside from running for public office, which I never did).

Jarecki further writes:
"To be fair, modern life is hectic and leaves us little time to attend to even the most basic elements of health and survival, let alone the kind of far-reaching effort needed to reform a nation from below. Yet I would argue that we all have our own version of spending amounts of wasted time watching American Idol, NFL highlights, or aimlessly surfing eBay. And so long as we have the time for such pursuits, we don't have the luxury at this critical historic crossroads not to take the time to devote to the health of our republic. Our survival as a people and as a majestic idea in the history of the world is at stake. But what can any one of us do?"
(Again, read the full post to find out what his answer is).

For my part, I'd say that what Jarecki writes is really "where the rubber meets the road" for any of us, myself included. It's not that no one should take time out for relaxation, fun, etc. There is a legitimate place in our lives, I think, for just "wasting time" as part of refreshing and re-charging ourselves. Having said this, I am in the process of taking a hard look at my own life to ascertain how I can help contribute to CHANGE in my country, and assessing how much time investment that will take, after legitimate, reasonable needs for spending time on relaxation are met. I dare say every American should make this same self-examination. Jarecki is, I think, exactly right in what I think he's trying to communicate: most Americans, on most days, do little to nothing to educate themselves on what's going on in their country --in terms of social and/or political challenges-- much less take ACTION about these. I myself spent the vast portion of my life up until now in the same condition.

I have found that it's very important to take the necessary time to first educate myself as a necessary pre-condition to talking to others (to influence or change their views). Sometimes, this can take many hours. A few examples: trying to figure out not only whether the United Nations Security Council did or did not authorize the United States' invasion of Afghanistan, but when? (Can I just call or email the UN?) Or, understanding the S.O.F.A. (Status of Forces Agreement) in Iraq, and what that means for America's future; learning how the way the US military is conducting it's "war on terror" in Afghanistan affects civilians in that ravaged country. I have found that even with the internet, educating myself about these things takes time and patience. After becoming educated comes the necessary task of trying persuade my legislators to do the right thing and to persuade my fellow Americans to persuade THEIR legislators to do the right thing.

If any of us who are average citizens who care about influencing the way the public thinks, and then influencing how politicians act, cannot or will not take the time for stuff like this, I don't know how we can expect to see real, lasting "change".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hello!

Hello fellow blog-readers! My name is Joe and I am a member of the Voices for Peace Institute in Eau Claire, WI. I work with Lou and we live in the same neighborhood. The Voices for Peace Institute has a simple mission: to lead our neighbors to the belief that we do not need war to solve our problems. I think this is a pretty simple idea.

The two wars we're engaged in right now are quagmires in their own rights. Ending them responsibly will require serious thought, and hopefully President Obama will take some time, along with diplomats, leaders, and military advisors, and plan our exit strategy carefully. I think war is a lot like a stab wound: the knife cuts on its way in and on its way out.

Ending the war has to be a bipartisan solution. This does not mean bending over and accepting all options. It means that we're going to have to find the middle way. What that way is, I don't know. But we are reaping the consequences for our thoughtless actions right now, in the form of blood from all sides. Neither side wants more bloodshed. Neither side wants the spectre of losing a war. Finding a way to balance those two tenets will be a challenge, but it can be and will be done. Someday, I hope to tell my future children about these wars, in the hopes that they will stand with me in opposing the next military blunder that we're getting goaded into.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FCNL - "President Bush Asserts Right to Control Iraqi Oil"

In an Oct. 16 press release the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) wrote:

"President George W. Bush this week rejected a Congressional effort to bar the U. S. military from controlling Iraq’s oil resources.

Before signing a bill authorizing military funding earlier this week, the president issued a 'signing statement', saying that he would not be bound by a provision in the bill prohibiting expenditure of funds “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq" (see http://www.fcnl.org/press/releases/oilcontrol101608.htm).

The FCNL's online aforementioned press release provided a link to said signing statement (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081014-8.html), as well as the language of the the legislation (http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=3431&issue_id=35).

I was struck, in reading the signing statement, how oblique it was (you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I mean), and yet, the import of it seems to be that even though Congress' defense spending bill, in terms of military spending in Iraq, prohibits using the funds for the purposes of exercising "United States control of the oil resources of Iraq" this is understood by those who know about these things (such as the FCNL) to in fact mean something like: "Though you, Congress, have passed this legislation, and have made specific requirements about the use of the military funding it authorizes", I, as President of the United States, don't have to be bound by this or that requirement that appears in the spending authorization, if I believe it could inhibit my doing what I need to do, as President."

The statement is, as I've said, not nearly so straightforward, though. Rather, it's as if the President is afraid to come right out and say, in terms anyone could understand: "I'm not going to obey Congress in this", but in fact, he won't obey, and says so, but does it in a way reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins' farewell speech, in which he tells his well-wishers: "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

I have heard from many that President Bush has done many, many "signing statements" (upwards of 1000?), and indeed I only learned what the import of a "signing statement" by a President is, during the Bush administration.

As someone living in west-central Wisconsin; the part of these United States which Sarah Palin probably considers part of the "real America", the part of this country in which Palin would likely say that "they grow good people", I am baffled by the whole concept of "signing statements". Really. I mean, isn't the whole purpose of Congress to do things like pass stuff like spending authorizations for the military?

How can it be that the President will just say: "I'm not going to follow the will of the American people as expressed by legislation passed by people Americans have elected to do things exactly like pass legislation about military funding and HOW that funding is to be used?

Followers