There was never a good war or a bad peace.
If women ran the world we wouldn't have wars, just intense negotiations every twenty eight days.
An Open Letter to the Nobel Committee
On Obama's Peace Prize
On December 10, you will award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, citing “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” We the undersigned are distressed that President Obama, so close upon his receipt of this honor, has opted to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan with the deployment of 30,000 additional troops. We regret that he could not be guided by the example of a previous Nobel Peace Laureate, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who identified his peace prize as “profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man [sic] to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
President Obama has insisted that his troop escalation is a necessary response to dangerous instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we reject the notion that military action will advance the region’s stability, or our own national security. In his peace prize acceptance speech, Dr. King observed that “Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts…man [sic] must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.” As people committed to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are filled with remorse by this new decision of our president, for it will not bring peace.
Declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War, Dr. King insisted that “no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war…We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways… We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man [sic] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”
We pledge ourselves to mobilize our constituencies in the spirit of Dr. King’s nonviolent and committed example. His prophetic words will guide us as we assemble in the halls of Congress, in local offices of elected representatives, and in the streets of our cities and towns, protesting every proposal that will continue funding war. We will actively and publicly oppose the war funding which President Obama will soon seek from Congress and re-commit ourselves to the protracted struggle against U.S. war-making in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We assume that the Nobel Committee chose to award President Obama the peace prize in full awareness of the vision offered by Dr. King’s acceptance speech. We also understand that the Nobel committee may now regret that decision in light of recent developments, as we believe that the committee should be reluctant to present an Orwellian message equating peace with war. When introducing the President, the Committee should, at the very least, exhibit a level of compassion and humility by drawing attention to this distressing ambiguity.
We will do all we can to ensure that popular pressure will soon bring President Obama to an acceptance of the duties which this prize, and even more his electoral mandate to be a figure of change, impose upon him. He must end the catastrophic policies of occupation and war that have caused so much destruction, so many deaths and displacements, and so much injury to our own democratic traditions.
This prize is not a meaningless honor. We pledge, ourselves obeying its call to nonviolent action, to make our President worthy of it.
Jack Amoureux- Board of Directors, Military Families Speak Out
Medea Benjamin- Co-Founder, Global Exchange
Frida Berrigan – Witness Against Torture
Elaine Brower- World Can’t Wait
Leslie Cagan- Co-Founder, United for Peace and Justice
Bob Cooke-Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi Metro, DC and Baltimore
Tom Cornell- Catholic Peace Fellowship
Matt Daloisio – War Resisters League
Marie Dennis – Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Laurie Dobson, Director, End US Wars
Mike Ferner- President, Veterans for Peace
Joy First- Convener, National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance
Sara Flounders – International Action Center
Diana Gibson, Christian Peace Witness
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb- Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
David Hartsough- Peaceworkers, San Francisco
Mike Hearington- Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition
Kimber J. Heinz- Organizing Coordinator, War Resisters League
Mark Johnson- Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Kathy Kelly- Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Non-Violence
Leslie Kielson – United for Peace and Justice
Malachy Kilbride- National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Kevin Martin- Executive Director-Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund
Linda LeTendre – Saratoga [New York] Peace Alliance
Michael McPhearson- Veterens for Peace
Gael Murphy – Co-Founder, Code Pink
Sheila Musaji – The American Muslim
Michael Nagler- Founder, Metta Center for Nonviolence
Max Obuszewski- Pledge of Resistance Baltimore and Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Pete Perry- Peace of the Action
Dave Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi
David Swanson- AfterDowningStreet.org
Terry Rockefeller – Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Samina Sundas – Founding Executive Director, The American Muslim Voice
Nancy Tsou- Coordinator, Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice
Diane Turco- Cape Codders for Peace and Justice
Marge Van Cleef – Womens International League for Peace and Freedom
Jose Vasquez, Executive Director, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Craig Wiesner- Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice
Scott Wright, Pax Christi Metro DC - Baltimore
Kevin Zeese- Executive Director, Voters for Peace
Along with delivering this open letter to the Nobel Peace Committee, activists will present it at a rally in Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 12th, 11 – 4, www. enduswar.org
The Peace Candidate Myth
By WILLIAM BLUM
All the crying from the left about how Obama "the peace candidate" has now become "a war president" ... Whatever are they talking about? Here's what I wrote in this report in August 2008, during the election campaign:
We find Obama threatening, several times, to attack Iran if they don't do what the United States wants them to do nuclear-wise; threatening more than once to attack Pakistan if their anti-terrorist policies are not tough enough or if there would be a regime change in the nuclear-armed country not to his liking; calling for a large increase in US troops and tougher policies for Afghanistan; wholly and unequivocally embracing Israel as if it were the 51st state.
Why should anyone be surprised at Obama's foreign policy in the White House? He has not even banned torture, contrary to what his supporters would fervently have us believe. If further evidence were needed, we have the November 28 report in the Washington Post: "Two Afghan teenagers held in U.S. detention north of Kabul this year said they were beaten by American guards, photographed naked, deprived of sleep and held in solitary confinement in concrete cells for at least two weeks while undergoing daily interrogation about their alleged links to the Taliban." This is but the latest example of the continuance of torture under the new administration.
But the shortcomings of Barack Obama and the naiveté of his fans is not the important issue. The important issue is the continuation and escalation of the American war in Afghanistan, based on the myth that the individuals we label "Taliban" are indistinguishable from those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, whom we usually label "al Qaeda". "I am convinced," the president said in his speech at the United States Military Academy (West Point) on December 1, "that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak."
Obama used one form or another of the word "extremist" eleven times in his half-hour talk. Young, impressionable minds must be carefully taught; a future generation of military leaders who will command America's never-ending wars must have no doubts that the bad guys are "extremists", that "extremists" are by definition bad guys, that "extremists" are beyond the pale and do not act from human, rational motivation like we do, that we — quintessential non-extremists, peace-loving moderates — are the good guys, forced into one war after another against our will. Sending robotic death machines flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan to drop powerful bombs on the top of wedding parties, funerals, and homes is of course not extremist behavior for human beings.
And the bad guys attacked the US "from here", Afghanistan. That's why the United States is "there", Afghanistan. But in fact the 9-11 attack was planned in Germany, Spain and the United States as much as in Afghanistan. It could have been planned in a single small room in Panama City, Taiwan, or Bucharest. What is needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? And the attack was carried out entirely in the United States. But Barack Obama has to maintain the fiction that Afghanistan was, and is, vital and indispensable to any attack on the United States, past or future. That gives him the right to occupy the country and kill the citizens as he sees fit. Robert Baer, former CIA officer with long involvement in that part of the world has noted: "The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. They simply want us gone because we're foreigners, and they're rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters."
The pretenses extend further. US leaders have fed the public a certain image of the insurgents (all labeled together under the name "Taliban") and of the conflict to cover the true imperialistic motivation behind the war. The predominant image at the headlines/TV news level and beyond is that of the Taliban as an implacable and monolithic "enemy" which must be militarily defeated at all costs for America's security, with a negotiated settlement or compromise not being an option. However, consider the following which have been reported at various times during the past two years about the actual behavior of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan vis-à-vis the Taliban, which can raise questions about Obama's latest escalation:
The US military in Afghanistan has long been considering paying Taliban fighters who renounce violence against the government in Kabul, as the United States has done with Iraqi insurgents.
President Obama has floated the idea of negotiating with moderate elements of the Taliban.
US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said last month that the United States would support any role Saudi Arabia chose to pursue in trying to engage Taliban officials.
Canadian troops are reaching out to the Taliban in various ways.
A top European Union official and a United Nations staff member were ordered by the Kabul government to leave the country after allegations that they had met Taliban insurgents without the administration's knowledge. And two senior diplomats for the United Nations were expelled from the country, accused by the Afghan government of unauthorized dealings with insurgents. However, the Afghanistan government itself has had a series of secret talks with "moderate Taliban" since 2003 and President Hamid Karzai has called for peace talks with Taliban leader Mohammed Omar.
Organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the United Nations have become increasingly open about their contacts with the Taliban leadership and other insurgent groups.
Gestures of openness are common practice among some of Washington's allies in Afghanistan, notably the Dutch, who make negotiating with the Taliban an explicit part of their military policy.
The German government is officially against negotiations, but some members of the governing coalition have suggested Berlin host talks with the Taliban.
MI-6, Britain's external security service, has held secret talks with the Taliban up to half a dozen times. At the local level, the British cut a deal, appointing a former Taliban leader as a district chief in Helmand province in exchange for security guarantees.
Senior British officers involved with the Afghan mission have confirmed that direct contact with the Taliban has led to insurgents changing sides as well as rivals in the Taliban movement providing intelligence which has led to leaders being killed or captured.
British authorities hold that there are distinct differences between different "tiers" of the Taliban and that it is essential to try to separate the doctrinaire extremists from others who are fighting for money or because they resent the presence of foreign forces in their country.
British contacts with the Taliban have occurred despite British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly ruling out such talks; on one occasion he told the House of Commons: "We will not enter into any negotiations with these people."
For months there have been repeated reports of "good Taliban" forces being airlifted by Western helicopters from one part of Afghanistan to another to protect them from Afghan or Pakistani military forces. At an October 11 news conference in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai himself claimed that "some unidentified helicopters dropped armed men in the northern provinces at night."
On November 2, IslamOnline.net (Qatar) reported: "The emboldened Taliban movement in Afghanistan turned down an American offer of power-sharing in exchange for accepting the presence of foreign troops, Afghan government sources confirmed. 'US negotiators had offered the Taliban leadership through Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil (former Taliban foreign minister) that if they accept the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, they would be given the governorship of six provinces in the south and northeast ... America wants eight army and air force bases in different parts of Afghanistan in order to tackle the possible regrouping of [the] Al-Qaeda network,' a senior Afghan Foreign Ministry official told IslamOnline.net."
There has been no confirmation of this from American officials, but the New York Times on October 28 listed six provinces that were being considered to receive priority protection from the US military, five which are amongst the eight mentioned in the IslamOnline report as being planned for US military bases, although no mention is made in the Times of the above-mentioned offer. The next day, Asia Times reported: "The United States has withdrawn its troops from its four key bases in Nuristan [or Nooristan], on the border with Pakistan, leaving the northeastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban-led insurgency to orchestrate its regional battles." Nuristan, where earlier in the month eight US soldiers were killed and three Apache helicopters hit by hostile fire, is one of the six provinces offered to the Taliban as reported in the IslamOnline.net story.
The part about al-Qaeda is ambiguous and questionable, not only because the term has long been loosely used as a catch-all for any group or individual in opposition to US foreign policy in this part of the world, but also because the president's own national security adviser, former Marine Gen. James Jones, stated in early October: "I don't foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling. The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies."
Shortly after Jones's remarks, we could read in the Wall Street Journal:
"Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al-Qaida is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistan and U.S. officials. ... For Arab youths who are al-Qaida's primary recruits, 'it's not romantic to be cold and hungry and hiding,' said a senior U.S. official in South Asia."
From all of the above is it not reasonable to conclude that the United States is willing and able to live with the Taliban, as repulsive as their social philosophy is? Perhaps even a Taliban state which would go across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been talked about in some quarters. What then is Washington fighting for? What moves the president of the United States to sacrifice so much American blood and treasure? In past years, US leaders have spoken of bringing democracy to Afghanistan, liberating Afghan women, or modernizing a backward country. President Obama made no mention of any of these previous supposed vital goals in his December 1 speech. He spoke only of the attacks of September 11, al Qaeda, the Taliban, terrorists, extremists, and such, symbols guaranteed to fire up an American audience. Yet, the president himself declared at one point: "Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border." Ah yes, the terrorist danger ... always, everywhere, forever, particularly when it seems the weakest.
How many of the West Point cadets, how many Americans, give thought to the fact that Afghanistan is surrounded by the immense oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions? Or that Afghanistan is ideally situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of Europe and south Asia, lines that can deliberately bypass non-allies of the empire, Iran and Russia? If only the Taliban will not attack the lines. "One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south ...", said Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in 2007.
Afghanistan would also serve as the home of American military bases, the better to watch and pressure next-door Iran and the rest of Eurasia. And NATO ... struggling to find a raison d'être since the end of the Cold War. If the alliance is forced to pull out of Afghanistan without clear accomplishments after eight years will its future be even more in doubt?
So, for the present at least, the American War on Terror in Afghanistan continues and regularly and routinely creates new anti-American terrorists, as it has done in Iraq. This is not in dispute even at the Pentagon or the CIA. God Bless America.
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
Label me as a liberal, left-wing Democrat---which I'm not.
I'm actually an independent, investigative, free-thinker.
Or I at least attempt to be.
And here's what I've been thinking.
The continuation and escalation of the "war" in Afghanistan is mostly about making money.
Yes, I know, the U.S. and NATO are a buffer between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
But the U.S. is not fighting terrorism in Afghanistan as much as it is keeping a foothold and defensive presence in this oily section of the world.
The American economy---at least in the area of jobs---is dismal.
War pumps up an economy.
War creates jobs and destruction.
More jobs for construction result from destruction.
Bombs and bullets.
Tanks and missiles.
Drones, drones, drones...
Use 'em or lose 'em.
Use them in order to make more.
It's good for business.
You can't make a lot of money if you don't make a lot of war.
War is a perpetual monster.
A country has wars not only to keep its rich masters of war rich, but also to keep its citizens employed, fed, clothed, and most importantly---
Distracted and Entertained!
"Go ahead, tax me, fight your wars...as long as I can keep my computer and TV!"
By M.L. Squier
IT'S THE OIL STUPID!
War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War, it's got one friend
That's the undertaker
Ooooh, war, has shattered
Many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much too short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can't give life
It can only take it away
Ooooh, war, huh
Good God y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing Say it again...
From WAR by Edwin Starr
From Wrestling With the Question of Afghanistan
Obama as Hamlet
By GARY LEUPP
November 24, 2009
It would be so easy, and there would be enormous support for a clear statement of a withdrawal plan. But it’s widely predicted that Obama will bow to the demand of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, for tens of thousands of more troops, raising the issue of who really runs this country and what issues are really involved in Afghanistan. Does the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing both Russia and Iran, have anything to do with it?
All the wrestling with the arguments about the absence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the increase in U.S. forces actually strengthening the Taliban and the distastefulness of having American soldiers dying for Karzai’s bogus regime ends when the pale cast of thought turns to serious imperialist geopolitics. Forgive my language but Obama is a traditional bourgeois politician who with his State Department identifies corporate U.S. interests as “national” interests and probably can be persuaded that they’re worth fighting for. Or rather, using U.S. troops to fight and die for.
Whether he gives McChrystal the 40,000 he wants or a smaller force, it will be doomed to contribute to the current 922 military fatality figure. Soon 1000 will have died fighting illiterate tribesman deeply angered at their presence in their valleys which have resisted countless ill-considered incursions for over 2300 years. Will the standard-bearer of change and hope still be pacing his office, wrestling with the question then?
From “Who Will Protest Obama’s War?”
by Justin Raimondo
November 25, 2009
Here’s Matt Yglesias, over at the Center for American Progress---the epicenter of Obama worship---musing over the prospect of a "war surtax":
"I’d like to see Paul Krugman or other advocates of more stimulus weigh-in on whether debt-financed escalation of military effort would have a beneficial impact on the labor market situation. I think it’s deplorable that U.S. political culture tends to regard military-related appropriations as exempt from normal budgetary considerations, but it’s possible that that’s a loophole worth taking advantage of in this case. All those new weapons purchases the Pentagon doesn’t want to estimate are manufacturing jobs for someone, right? Obviously this shouldn’t the primary consideration in dictating military strategy, but I do think a comprehensive look at the macroeconomic impact of defense policy choices – both the costs and benefits of hugely expensively military undertakings – is a necessary element of the strategic consideration."
How to balance the costs of the Afghan war – the thousands of Afghan and American lives lost, the horrific destruction wreaked on Afghan society, the screams of the horribly wounded, and the tears of mourners – against what Yglesias and his fellow Keynesians imagine will be the "benefits" of spending all that government moolah and doling it out to their political allies and corporate patrons?
These soulless policy wonks may believe this kind of calculus has no moral import, but for the rest of the human race the profoundly immoral and frankly repulsive nature of this arithmetical exercise is readily apparent. Yglesias himself has criticized our policy in Afghanistan and is skeptical of plans to escalate the conflict, yet he unhesitatingly unpacks the doctrine of military Keynesianism in order to advance his big-government agenda. He may think this is harmless, but as John T. Flynn presciently pointed out as World War II was ending:
"The great and glamorous industry is here – the industry of militarism. And when the war is ended the country is going to be asked if it seriously wishes to demobilize an industry that can employ so many men, create so much national income when the nation is faced with the probability of vast unemployment in industry. All the well-known arguments, used so long and so successfully in Europe … will be dusted off – America with her high purposes of world regeneration must have the power to back up her magnificent ideals; America cannot afford to grow soft, and the Army and Navy must be continued on a vast scale to toughen the moral and physical sinews of our youth; America dare not live in a world of gangsters and aggressors without keeping her full power mustered … and above and below and all around these sentiments will be the sinister allurement of the perpetuation of the great industry which can never know a depression because it will have but one customer – the American government to whose pocket there is no bottom."
The economic benefits Yglesias points to, however, come with some strings attached. As Flynn accurately predicted:
"Embarked … upon a career of militarism, we shall, like every other country, have to find the means when the war ends of obtaining the consent of the people to the burdens that go along with the blessings it confers upon its favored groups and regions. Powerful resistance to it will always be active, and the effective means of combating this resistance will have to be found. Inevitably, having surrendered to militarism as an economic device, we will do what other countries have done: we will keep alive the fears of our people of the aggressive ambitions of other countries and we will ourselves embark upon imperialistic enterprises of our own."
Keynesian militarism means a foreign policy shaped by a constant propaganda of fear. In order to justify outsized military spending, it is necessary to conjure threats of comparable stature, but once we take this path, there is no return to normalcy. For our own economic normalcy will come more and more to depend on generating a constant stream of foreign crises and an ever ready supply of enemies who cannot be safely ignored.
There are, in the long run, no net benefits to be had from the policy of military Keynesianism: our debt-driven military buildup can only end in bankruptcy and universal ruin. Yes, in the short run, certain workers and employers do indeed derive benefits from our foreign policy of unrelenting aggression, but their "jobs" are not in any sense productive: indeed, they are engaged in the "business" of wholesale destruction – of human lives and resources – so while their "work" benefits them, it hurts the rest of us immeasurably.
Of course, the Keynesians will have none of this. They believe that if the government pays us to build pyramids, blows up the finished product, and pays us to rebuild them, then they’re "kick-starting" the economy. So why not start a world war – wouldn’t that deliver a swift kick to our stubbornly mulish economy and save the Obamaites’ rapidly sinking political fortunes?
Well, because that would be morally indefensible, now wouldn’t it? Yet that is precisely what the administration is getting ready to do, as the announcement of Obama’s Afghan "surge" looms closer. The president won’t argue that the war will be good for the economy; he’ll leave that dirty job to his proxies over at the Center for American Progress, who, if they do good work, just might get invited to the latest "must attend" White House event.