December 5, 2009


Like many of you I was very disappointed in the Presidents' decision to send an additional 30,000 more troops (young people-soldiers) to the war zone in bleak Afghanistan, half way across the globe, now in the beginning of cold winter. 

Below is a link to the Tuesday, Dec.1 speech at West Point, which established a new foreign-national security policy engaging us in a questionable war for possibly many years to come, maiming and killing more of our best, as well as innocent Afghan civilians as well. Since struggling alone with disappointment is difficult enough, after participating the last few years to lobby/protest to end the wars in Iraq as well as Afghan, I felt to join with other activists and braved the rain on Wednesday evening, downtown Philadelphia.

This was one of many rallies across the country, ordinary people from all walks of life showing our disdain for yet another decision by an administration that is locked into the status quo of foreign policy - maintaining military fighting prescence at war.  Pres. Obama decided to be accomodating to the military industrial complex as well as US business interests rather than the hopes and will of the American public who wanted him to decide against sending any more troops.  The rally, in the rain, went well with dozens of people holding signs and banners, shouting slogans, giving voices of protest to the passersby, honking cars and buses in traffic, and a few hundred children and families across the street at City Hall celebrating the onset of the holiday season, lights gleaming everywhere (though not in Afghanistan).

I spoke with a few friends and some activists I hadn't met before, held up a banner, "Mourn the Dead and End the Wars", and realized I needed to understand more about the war(s) to feel informed about the reality confronting us, once again, and the certain activism of protest that lies ahead.   So, I undertook to do some research and compiled an assortment of links below in case anyone wants to follow-up themselves.  Perhaps hundreds of articles have been written over the last few months, this is but a few of those I felt offered a variety of information and perspectives on the war, situation in Afghan, viability of our military against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the exorbitant  billions of dollars on top of the already budgeted $130 billion for Iraq and Afghan, in the ever expanding military overall budget of almost $700 billion for this year!  Since the military industrial complex is making billions from the war  perhaps they should be made to pay for it and American taxpayers given a war-rebate on next years taxes.  Those members of Congress, over 500, who have received campaign/election contributions from the MIC companies and contractors could chip in their fair share as well, while we call on them to 
vote against any further funding to pay for this escalation. The House has the opportunity and responsibility to "say no" Mr. President, we want to do the right thing for our constituents and halt any further funding, while making plans to bring our weary troops home.  that we recognize, as many "experts' on foreign affairs and international relations do (who were not called in to testify as part of your review the past month) that this is an unwinnable war, and we're putting good blood after "bad" in pursuing it any further.  Besides the Taliban know how to keep us guessing by moving around the rural areas and "working" at night on sabatoge and reprimanding other Afghans who work against them. The repressed women and poverty kept children in the illiterate culture under partriarchal and fundamentalist rule, will continue to be harmed, even raped (as a recent report has testified) and kept in servitude, in poverty, and given little hope for any kind of decent life in the future.   About our only hope is that the Taliban will give up and surrender, but that is unlikely since they are winning, and a large part of the US strategy is to protect the cities which the Taliban have litttle interest in.  Reading some of the writers like Nir Rosen, Ann Jones or Andrew Basevich you get the impression that continued fighting with the entrenched Taliban is futile, Too, the Taliban might grin at the audacity of the US to plunder their resources, once again, into a corrupt Karzai government which, in part, supports the Taliban itself.  We've given $billions$ to that government, and the culture is worst off than before we occupied the country 8 years ago. 

Anyway, I could go on ranting but will let it go for now.  Of course the question on everone's mind now is what can we do since the decision has already been made to further advance our armies in Afghan.

Well, there are two ideas that come to mind.  The first is spoken by David Swanson of www.afterdowningstreet,org , that is, to lobby the House to stop the funding for the escalation (see, WAR: It's Not the President's Decision, below)  and the second is my idea, that is to talk up the idea of holding discussions with the United Nations for establishing a UN Protectorate for Afghanistan,
and take over that government for a few our resources along with our allies, the NATO nations, to a trustworthy and competant government would enable the country to be re-built in a democratic manner truly benefitting the people there.  It may be the only chance to get around a continuation of corrupt government with warlords and the vicious Taliban's brutality striving to take over power, once again.  Also, for the progressive, anti-war movement in the US to continue protesting, the next major protest in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 12, 2009, see below, for The "No You Can't Rally" , Swanson again. Too, let's get behind Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Jim McGovern and Rep.Walter Jones, see letter to the President, who want Congress to be given a chance to argue the case for escaltion and vote on it, and on the funding for the war effort to come soon. 

Support too to Rep. Dennis Kucinich and others who have spoken out against the war(s) and need to hear from us, to press them foward.

Let us charge the Progressive Democrats to take action now and stand up against further military aggression by the new US policy of escalation, occupation and prolonged military engagement. Making progress is not maintaining the status quo, as President Obama has mistakenly done in his December 1st oratory.  Perhaps his recent Presidential opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, now our Secretary of the State Department, would speak out for the need for more diplomatic means of achieving a resolution to conflict in Afghan. In the long-run it is only through diplomacy and negotiations that progress is to be made. Let us pray and meditate on this coming to pass over
this holiday season.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men,Women and Children.
Arn Specter, Phila. (Twitter)
Updates and Reviews on the War in Afghanistan
TV Interviews, TV Special Programs, Films, Articles, Videos, Reports,
Legislation, Letters to the President, Anti-War Protests, Congressional Hearings,
Websites, Book Review
TV Interviews:
Amy  Goodman, Host of Democracy Now on Afghanistan, Dec. 2, 2009
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Afghanistan War Opposition; Congress Failures
Andrew Bacevich, Author/Teacher on Obama's Failure Understanding History ...also:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Russ Feingold, testimony by
Col. Andrew Basevich, April 23, 2009, on Afghanistan and Pakistan
Obama's Sins of Omission by Andrew J. Bacevich, The Boston Globe, Apr.25,2009; Instead of fostering progress Obama is intent on maintaining the status quo on national security and US militarization around the world., also:
Conversations In History, May 9, 2009, Harry Kreisler, UC Berkeley with
Andrew Bacevich, 1 Hour VIDEO, on US Militarization, Political Policy..
" poke people to think critically", professor Bacevich.
Nir Rosen, Writer on US Failures in Afghanistan, with the Taliban.
Something for Nothing, US Strategy in Afghanistan, by Nir Rosen
Boston Review, Dec/Jan 2010, Part 2 on US Counterinsurgency: Iraq Part 1)  Dec. 3, 2009
Lex Kassenberg, CARE International: As Troop Escalation Begins, Relief Groups Decry Militarization of US Aid to Afghanistan; Interviewed by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
TV Special Programs:
PBS, Frontline: Obama's War, Interviews and Analysis
Bill Moyers Journal: A Tale of Two Quagmires, Nov.20,2009
Footage of Pres. Lyndon Johnson, others on the Vietnam War, comparisons
to today's decision by Pres.Barach Obama for escalation of 30,000 troops for Afghanistan War.
Voices From Afghan: Afghan Women's Activist Zoya Speaks Out on Eight Years of Occupation, Oct. 7, 2009, Democracy Now, VIDEO and Transcript.
(see Website below for  Afghan Women's Mission )
Brave New Foundation, Film: Rethink Afghanistan
Don't Escalate a Failing War by Ann Wright and Paul Kawika Martin, 12/2/09, Special to CNN; Need for less military and more economic and social
development with multi-nation support, including the United Nations...
Work Gives Afghan Women Hope Amid Security Worries
 (fears of the Taliban) by Kathy Gannon, AP, Yahoo! News
Epicenter of Mendacity: Obama's Illegal War Against Afghanistan
by David Lindorff, Dec.2,,
Obama Had Rejected His Own Speech's Surge Rationale, Dec.3,
Analysis by Gareth Porter, "NYTimes reported senior administration officials
were saying privately that Obama's national security team was now, 'arguing
that the Taliban in Afghan do not pose a direct threat to the US.'...
The Road Home From Afghanistan, by Sen. Russ Feingold,
Aug. 29,2009,WSJ
Why a flexible timetable to withdraw US troops will best advance our national
security interests...
Us or Them in Afghanistan by Ann Jones; an inside look and analysis
of the very weak and incompetant Afghan Army, Sept. 20, 2009
Russia: US Fight Against Afghan Drugs Insufficient by Vladimir Isachenkov, AP, Oct. 7, 2009
Tie Troops to Progress on Afghanistan's Corruption by Jane Harman
and Michael O'Hanion, Sept. 22, 2009; counterinsurgencies cannot be won
by foreign powers alone...they require viable partners from the host country...
Al-Qaida and The Taliban: Knowing Your Enemy by L.C. Baldor,
AP, Oct.24,2009; "You cannot meaningfully distinguish between al-Qaida and the co-linked (militant) networks- either in terms of understanding the landscape
or crafting a policy response", said Vahid Brown, a researcher at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
McChrystal to Obama: Fogh You; McChrystal Testing the Limits
by Ray McGovern, former Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years..."No more slaps on the wrist for Gen. Stanley McChrystal. In my view, Commander-in-chief Obama should fire him for cause"...
Obama: 30,000 More Troops to Afghanistan by Summer (2010),
AP Writer Jennifer Loven and National Security Writer Anne Gearan
"Announcing a start to a US withdrawal by July 2011 does not tie the United States to an "end date"  for the war, officials said..." The address (at West Point) could become a defining moment of the Obama presidency, a political gamble that may weigh heavily on his chances for a second White House term...
Center for New American Security, CNAS Releases Afghanistan Policy Brief
by Andrew Exum, Oct.20, 2009; Afghanistan 2011: Three Scenarios
January 13, 2009, Senator Barbara Boxer Introduced the Afghan Women Empowerment Act of 2009.  Afghan women are under siege - from acid attacks, from air strikes, from illteracy, from the deprivation of basic freedoms like the right to leave home. ..seeks to alleviate the status (and suffering) of the women and girls of Afghanistan...
Letters to the President:
Dec.2, 2009 Letter from Sen Russ Feingold, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep.Walter Jones wanting Congressional debate and vote on more troops for Afghanistan.
Dear President Obama; Who Are You getting Your Afghanistan Advice From? by Ralph Nader, Nov. 18, 2009; "Are you soliciting advise from stateside civic groups of experience and repute that represent many Americans?..these organizations represent tens of millions of Americans..from the clergy, labor, environmentalists, students, peace groups, women's groups, city councils, consumer, Veterans , teachers groups, and international security experts..."
Michael Moore Writes An Open Letter to the President: Don't Escalate Afghanistan, the Graveyard of Empires, Nov. 30, 2009,
"Do you really want to be the new war President?..destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in's not your job to do what the Generals tell you to do. We are a civilian run government..." 
Anti-War protests:
WAR: It's Not the President's Decision; House of Representatives Can
Refuse to Fund It; "No You Can't Rally at White House, Saturday, 
Dec. 12, Unity Among Peace Movement Groups; Over 100 Peace Activists; 
End US Wars, New Coalition. ( )
Baltimore Activists Oppose Obama's Afghan Surge, Dec.4, Interviews
Anti-War Protests Tues. & Wed. as Pres. Obama announces More Troops to Afghan occupation by Chip, , "On Wed. Dec.2 at federal buildings and major intersections in dozens of cities- organized by a coalition of organizations representing veterans, military families, religious groups and anti-war activists - organizers expects an outpouring (in the rain in Phila :) )
based on recent polls showing more than 50% opposition to further escalation in  Afghanistan...
Congressional Hearings:
Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearing on Afghanistan Strategy, Chaired by Senator Carl Levin, December 2, 2009, Washington, DC. VIDEO,
C-Span, 3 hours...
House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hearing on Afghanistan Strategy,
Chaired by Rep. Howard Berman, December 2, 2009, Washington,DC, VIDEO
C-Span, 2hrs. 46 min.
NATO, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Monthly News Conference, Responding to Pres. Obama's Order for 30,000 more Troops for Afghanistan. VIDEO
Presidential Address on Afghanistan Policy, December 1, 2009,
White House, C-Span, VIDEO, 40 min.  Decision/Order to send an additional 30,000 troops to Aghanistan by the Summer of 2010...  VIDEO
Day 2, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Top Officials Defend New Plan; Sec'y of Defense Robert Gates, Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen.  VIDEO
Day 2, House Armed Services Committee, Top Officials Defend New Plan
Websites: , Pasadena, California, (626) 676-7884
Zoya, member of the Revolutionary Assn. of the Women of Afghan
(RAWA) the past eight years of US occupation have legitimized criminal warlords
and a corrupt government, resulted in thosands of bombing deaths of civilians, and consequently strengthened the Taliban.  While women have gained some rights on paper in the nation's new constitution, in practice more women are being imprisoned, committing suicide, suffering rapes, and other abuses than ever before.
Book Review
Kabul in Winter by Ann Jones Interviewed by Joan Brunwasser, Dec.2, 2009
Part 1, , published in 2006, first went to Afghanistan in 2002
speaks about her work there among the women especially.
Kabul in Winter by Ann Jones, Part 2, "I don't think 'helping them' was ever an American objective, and it certainly isn't now. 'Delivering aid' as you put it, was part of State Department strategy under the Bush administration, designed to serve US (not Afghan) national interests.  In any aid organization, it's always difficult to find people steeped in the language and culture and willing to stay long enough to see projects through, but as a minimum requirement they should be good at what they're hired to do"...