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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Real Winner of the Iraq War

He is pictured on the left. Iraqi Prime Minister Al Maliki just returned from a cordial meeting in Iran with his most important foreign ally.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation Interviewed

In a fascinating give-and-take interview, Scott Horton and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher for The Nation magazine, exchange ideas about libertarianism and progressivism in the peace movement.

According to the description of the show, they also discuss "the incoming Obama Administration, the popular backlash against corporate power, the ethical and practical necessity of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how an escalation in Afghanistan would ruin the promise of change and hope from the Obama campaign, the impotence of conventional military power against the contemporary threats of asymmetrical warfare and piracy and why NATO should be disbanded and a new cold war with Russia prevented."

Listen here .

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gates: U.S. Troops May Stay "for Decades" in Iraq

The bad news keeps coming from Obama and his hawkish "team of rivals." As I said before, the peace movement needs to raise a ruckus about this now rather than later when it may be too late. Here is what Robert Gates told George Will in a recent interview :

"Regarding Iraq, Gates is parsimonious with his confidence, noting that ‘the multisectarian democracy has not sunk very deep roots yet.' He stresses, however, that there is bipartisan congressional support for ‘a long-term residual presence' of perhaps 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and that the president-elect's recent statements have not precluded that. Such a presence "for decades" has, he says, followed major US military operations since 1945, other than in Vietnam. And he says, ‘Look at how long Britain has had troops in Cyprus.'"

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

HAW Member Andrew Bacevich Interviewed

Here is an audio of Scott Horton's interview of Andrew Bacevich, a member of Historians Against the War. Bacevich is professor of international relations at Boston University and author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. According to the description of the interview, he "discusses the negative net returns of U.S. expansionism from the 1960s onward, the establishment of a permanent national security apparatus that made non-interventionism impossible, the Carter Doctrine’s faulty premises and continued influence in Middle East policies and the current Pentagon reassessment of U.S. military limitations that may inhibit a troop surge in Afghanistan and force a more realistic political solution."

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Cleansing Iraqi Christians....Silence from American Religious Conservatives

The destruction of some of the world's oldest Christian communities continues despite a pro-U.S. regime and 150,000 American troops. Meanwhile, in the U.S., thousands of religious conservatives continue to invest their emotional capital in debates over Obama's birth certificate.

Perhaps they will start to caring about their religious compatriots in Iraq when Obama becomes president, that is if any Christians are still left in iraq.

According to this story in Der Spiegel,

murders and a mass exodus contradict Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's promise of security for everyone. Churches are trying to help the refugees, and some may come to Germany -- if the government settles on a plan.....

Since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Christians in Mosul have had to fear for their lives. Churches have been set on fire, and priests, doctors, engineers and businesspeople have been murdered. In March, aides found the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho on the outskirts of the city. A new series of killings that began in late September has already claimed 18 lives.

About half of Mosul's 20,000 Christians have left the city since September, according to official figures released by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration in Baghdad. Since the US invasion in 2003, more than one third of a Christian population that once numbered about 800,000 has fled the country.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin/Biden Foreign Policy Positions.

Here is an excellent breakdown of the views of Palin and Biden on foreign policy from the indispensable antiwar.com

The first and only 2008 Vice President Debate is over, and between Governor Sarah Palin’s “shout out” to third-graders from a particular elementary school and imploring “Joe Six-packs” and “Hockey Moms” to band together or Senator Joe Biden’s quip about the “ultimate bridge to nowhere” and comments about how much time he spends at the Home Depot in Wilmington, Delaware the two actually spent quite a bit of time discussing their respective positions on foreign policy.

On Iraq

Republican nominee Sarah Palin insisted that “we have a good plan” in Iraq. She further declared that the success of the surge was “proven” and claimed incorrectly that American forces in Iraq were back down to pre-surge levels. She also praised General David Petraeus as a “great American hero,” and insisted that there was a plan in place for withdrawal.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden claimed that the deal presently being negotiated by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki was essentially Senator Barack Obama’s plan. He also insisted that there needs to be a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, which Gov. Palin condemned as “a white flag of surrender.”

Sen. Biden promised “we will end this war,” while Gov. Palin insisted that the US military commanders would be the ones who will tell the President when the war is finished. Gov. Palin also claimed “deep respect” for her opponent’s family and their service in Iraq. Her respect for Sen. Obama, however, she said was a different matter. Sen. Biden retorted that Senator John McCain had been “dead wrong” on the war in Iraq.

Sen. Biden also insisted his vote in favor of the use of force in Iraq was not really a vote in favor of war, to which Gov. Palin quipped that the Senator “was for it before he was against it.”

Later, the two clashed on whether the war in Iraq was the center of the war on terrorism. Sen. Biden predicted that any future attack against the homeland would come from Afghanistan or Pakistan, while Gov. Palin maintained that both Gen. Petraeus and al-Qaeda agree that Iraq is the real center of the conflict.

On Iran

Both candidates agreed that Iran could not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Gov. Palin went the extra mile, declaring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “not sane” and insisting that Iran couldn’t even be allowed a civilian nuclear energy program. She also attacked Sen. Obama for saying he would meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions.

Sen. Biden denied the charge, insisting that Sen. Obama would not meet with the Iranian President without certain preconditions being met. He also claimed that Iran was not close to getting a usable nuclear weapon, however in a later comment he claimed the nation was drawing “closer to a bomb.”

On Pakistan

Both candidates likewise agreed that stability in Pakistan was a major concern. Sen. Biden went further in this declaration however, warning that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was a threat to Israel and that a stable government needs to be established there to win the hearts and minds of the tribal area residents.

On Afghanistan

The two candidates clashed bitterly regarding a quote by General David McKiernan regarding whether or not “surge principles” in Afghanistan would be successful. Sen. Biden maintained correctly that Gen. McKiernan cautioned that an Iraq-style surge would not be successful in Afghanistan, while Gov. Palin insisted that the quotes in no way meant that an adaptation of “surge principles” to Afghanistan might not work.

Sen. Biden called for “more money” and “more troops” in Afghanistan, while Gov. Palin attacked Sen. Obama as “reckless” for pointing out that US forces had killed Afghan civilians in air raids.

On Israel

Both candidates declared their love for Israel, with Sen. Biden claiming to be “Israel’s best friend” in the United States Senate. Biden also condemned the Bush Administration’s policy on Israel as an “abject failure” and bragged that he and Sen. Obama had opposed the elections in the West Bank which brought Hamas to power. He also supported a call to place NATO troops in Lebanon to protect Israel from Hezbollah, and said the failure to do so had led to Hezbollah gaining a legitimate role in Lebanon’s government.

Gov. Palin, meanwhile, said that the US must take steps to assure Israel that it will never allow a “Second Holocaust,” which she accused Iran of plotting. She also praised Israel as a “peace-seeking nation” and cited their relationships with Jordan and Egypt as a successful track record of making peace with their neighbors.

On Sudan

Sen. Biden expressed his support for military intervention in Darfur, responding to a question about whether Americans would support it with “the American public has a stomach for success” and saying that “we should rally the world” to halt the genocide in Darfur. Gov. Palin gave a slightly more reserved “all options are on the table” comment with respect to the situation in Darfur, while trumpeting her efforts to divest the Alaska Permanent Fund from Sudanese investments.

On Bosnia

Sen. Biden used his support for US military intervention in Bosnia during the 1990s as an example of a successful US war he helped to start. He called himself a “catalyst for change” and termed the situation “genocide,” insisting that the Bosnian strategy “worked.” He also claimed that Bosnia and Kosovo have “relatively stable” governments.

On Nuclear Arms Control

Gov. Palin insisted that dictatorships which hate America for its tolerance mustn’t be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. In particular she mentioned Iran and North Korea. She said a nuclear attack would be “the end all be all” of too many people, and claimed that America’s nuclear arsenal was simply for deterrent purposes, which she termed a “safe, stable way to use nuclear weapons.”

Sen. Biden attacked Sen. McCain for opposing American participation in the test ban treaty, saying that the world needs a “nuclear arms control regime.”

What Was Missing:

Conspicuously absent from the debate was any substantive mentioning of Russia, the expansion of NATO, the war in Georgia, or the prospect of a new Cold War. Also unmentioned were the US role in the conflict in Somalia, the role of AFRICOM, or any foreign policy with respect to Venezuela, Colombia, or any other nation in South America.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Richard Milhous McCain Debates John Fitzgerald Obama

In the debate, I kept expecting Obama to echo Kennedy's warning from 1960 in his debate with Nixon about the need to close the non-existent "missile gap." While he was more restrained than McCain on Iraq and Iran, his differences on other foreign policy issues were generally paper thin.

Like McCain, Obama endorsed the General Jack Ripperesque move of admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO (thus potentially obligating the U.S. to escalate to World War III in case of a border dispute with Russia) and a "surge" of more U.S. troops into Afghanistan. Obama's statements on U.S. military incursions into Pakistan made McCain look almost cool-headed by comparison (no small accomplishment).

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

REPORT TO HISTORIANS AGAINST THE WAR: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the pre-election teach-in in Berkeley on the Iraq War

Summation of the day:

The Teach In on the Iraq War took place on Friday, September 19, on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, in the spacious glassed in Heller Lounge of the Student Union right at the entrance to the campus below Sather Gate, a historic location of course, recalling the Free Speech movement of 1964 and thousands of demonstrations that have followed in the free speech zone created by the 1964 militants. Heller Lounge is now a Multicultural Center, thanks to the struggles of Ethnic Studies students in 1999.

250 chairs were set up with sofas and easy chairs lining the walls and an elevated stage in front with the sound equipment and a screen. In the other 1/3 of the room where people enter, Ramsay Kanaan of PM Press set up a bookstore, and there was ample standing room for those who did not want to commit to sitting down.

We began on time (every session began on time) with a talk by Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame. At that time only about 30 people were in attendance beyond the dozen organizers, so we felt anxious that it was going to be very small, but the numbers increased steadily to full capacity by early afternoon.

John Yoo was speaking at 11 AM in a building across Sproul Plaza. The UC President's office and the Law School hastily organized an all day session on torture and the constitution with a bunch of right wing lawyers, including Yoo, to take place at the same time as the Teach In. They announced it only the day before our Teach In.

The 10 AM panel on torture and the constitution was better attended and was excellent, with local civil rights attorneys Anne Weills and Dennis Cunningham, and constitutional legal expert Tom Reifer, The panel was moderated by lawyer and critical theorist John Hayakawa Torok, professor at Berkeley (all moderators for all panels were UC faculty or students). The discussion was excellent.

The 11 AM panel on US interventionism included a Palestinian activist, Mexican writer, a Serbian who was under the bombs in Belgrade, and myself. By then, there were probably 100 people with lots of people lounging on the sides and quite a number standing in the back.

At noon, we had box lunches for all the speakers and organizers, and a good crowd gathered to watch film clips from Paul Cronon's documentary in progress on the 1968 Columbia uprising. He had just come from showing the 4 hour film at the Toronto Film Festival to critical acclaim. Tom Hayden arrived about that time, and Immanuel Wallerstein was there, and they are both featured in the clips.

We had a hard time getting Iraq veterans lined up, but succeeded at the end beyond our wildest dreams. The 1:30 PM panel on "from Vietnam to Iraq" was supposed to start with a half hour talk by Tom Hayden, but instead he insisted on being one of the panelists. IVAW finally responded (thanks to Anne Weills work) and sent us a new member of theirs, Forrest Schaeffer, who was in Delta special forces in Afghanistan. A working class Irish-American guy, his father, a Vietnam vet, shot himself when Forrest was 6 years old. At 19, Forrest signed up to special forces after 9/11 to "defend America."

The other vet, Cleavon Gilman, is African-American, now a student at UC Berkeley, and was a medic in Iraq. Our main UC student organizer, Roberto Hernandez, had met Cleavon in a class he TAed this summer. He has a speech impediment (stuttering), which somehow made his testimony even more powerful. Neither Forrest nor Cleavon had spoken in public before, so it was a liberating experience for each of them. The room was packed and totally silent when they spoke. The discussion that followed with Carlos Muñoz (Vietnam vet and founder of Chicano Studies), Antonia Juhasz, a young activist/writer on the war, and Tom Hayden, and the two vets was powerful.

To me, this was the highlight of the day and the reason for even doing the teach in.

The 3-4:30 panel on how to stop US wars of aggression featured Immanuel Wallerstein, and students and faculty crammed the place, as he has, deservedly, many fans. But, Dunya Alwan, an Iraqi American that Max Elbaum recruited for us, stole the show with her descriptions of everyday life of Iraqis under occupation.

We then had an hour and a half of discussions led by two brilliant young Chicana doctoral candidates, more video, some music and refreshments.


We did not end up getting sponsorship by the Associated Students (ASUC). Classes had just started and they were new to their jobs and didn't even know if they had the right to sponsor without consulting the student assembly which is not scheduled to meet until the end of the month.

However, we did have the student organization, Critical Response and Intervention for a Sustainable Ethnic Studies (CRISES) as primary sponsor (along with HAW and War Times, which, of course, have no standing on the campus to do anything), and that made everything possible, not in terms of funding, which was too soon in the semester, but in kind support--the space free of charge, set up, just the right to be there. We could not have had the teach in without, specifically, Roberto Hernández, Daphne Taylor-Garcia, and Dalida María Benfield, who were burdened with most of the day to day work getting everything set up and recruiting the moderators.

From "The Great Rehearsal" we were able to get publicity, thanks to HAW's financial contribution--great posters put up by a professional thumb-tack brigade. The Great Rehearsal and University of San Francisco paid for speakers to come to the USF symposium held on Saturday after the teach in, and we were able to borrow those speakers for our panels, including Immanuel Wallerstein. The Working Group that came together, an intergenerational group of young and 60s activists, was about the best group I've worked with for a long time. We're thinking of planning more teach ins.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, HAW Steering Committee, coordinator of the teach in.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Adventures in Iraqi Democracy

The Iraqis just won't get with the program. I think it is safe to say that the McCain-Palin campaign, the Weekly Standard, and the National Review will pretend this never happened:

Iraqi legislators said Sunday that parliament had voted to lift the immunity of a Sunni Arab lawmaker who visited Israel.

Alusi at the funeral of his two sons who were killed in an assassination attempt in Baghdad in 2005.

The parliament has also banned Mithal al-Alusi from traveling outside Iraq or attending parliamentary sessions, they said.

Sunday's punishment was confirmed by Osama al-Nujeif, a Sunni Arab lawmaker, and Haider al-Ibadi, a Shi'ite lawmaker.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Horton/Kushner Debate on Terrorism at Texas A&M

As I predicted, this is well worth watching. Harvey Kushner makes all the standard pro-war Republican arguments and Scott Horton overwhelms him with evidence to the contrary. I doubt Kushner has ever experienced anything like this.

For the youtube, see here

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

McCain's Role in Creating the Anti-Iraq Anthrax Hysteria

The federal government now admits that it has no evidence that Iraq took part in the anthrax attacks shortly after 9-11. For this reason, it is worth remembering that only days after the attacks, John McCain, was already singling out Iraq as a likely suspect and using this to justify war. Apparently, he was relying on inside information (who provided it?) when he made this claim.

In making these statements, of course, McCain played a key role in creating the climate of fear that led many Americans to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The McCain/Obama Echo Chamber (Part 2)

Both Obama and McCain almost simultaneously endorsed an expanded military. Now, both candidates have echoed each other again (see here and here) in calling for a surge of U.S. troops into the worsening Afghan quagmire.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama's Janus-Faced Foreign Policy

Obama lays out his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan in an op-ed for The New York Times. It reveals on full display a proposed foreign policy of confusion and contradiction.

With the notable exception of calling for a "residual force" to fight Al Qaeda and train troops, Obama sensibly argues that the best policy is to wean the Iraqis from dependence on the United States and create "a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country."

Not recognizing the contradiction, however, Obama proposes the exact opposite solution for Afghanistan. Instead of letting the Afghans take "responsiblity for the security of their country," he wants to make them even more dependent on American welfare:

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Milton Friedman and the Iraq War

Unlike many conservatives, Milton Friedman not only opposed big government in domestic policy but also in foreign policy. This free-market economist, and Nobel prize winner, condemned the U.S. invasion of Iraq as an act of aggression.

Shortly before his death, he stated "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression."

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