Happy Norooz!

Yes that is my favourite spelling! Admittedly as Naj also recounts it is a bittersweet affair, the revolutionary establishment have embraced tyranny, the Iranian people caught amidst international intrigue, power games and domestic repression. I think Juan Cole is far too generous in accepting Obama’s public pronouncements, we know he says good things publicly, but we also know he does backroom deals and continues imperial policy out of the public view, healthcare, Dennis Ross, bunker busters(?). Interestingly Counterpunch reports Joe Biden making a semi public/ semi private statement that was not for US consumption-

So here’s the vice president of the United States of America,standing with all the injured dignity of a man who has just had a bucket of sewage dumped over his head and who amid his discomfiture, actually did use the word “condemn” and “Israel” in the same paragraph. The next day Biden heads for Tel Aviv university and confides to the audience that he is a Zionist and that, “throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States.” Get that: “the center of my work.” This mission statement is not quoted in the U.S. press.

I’m sure he was playing to the crowd, but can you imagine a US VP saying in Tehran ‘I am a supporter of the Islamic Republic…throughout my career, Iran has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States.’ I’m guessing that might make the papers back in The Homeland. There is little difference now between the two governments, both are playing games to placate their own elite friends and empower themselves, Iran has detained many dissidents although the more visible abuses have seen some redress –Iran tries suspects in protester prison deaths– their overall treatment is appalling (I suppose at least there is a case, no torture cases in the US even when they admit it proudly on TV). This however does not make a case for military attacks or blind sanctions designed for other agendas. So Happy New Year, bittersweet as it is.

Support The Troops- Support Joe Glenton

I got a press release today from some video sharing site called winkball (hmmm) which announced Gordon Brown was the latest ‘celeb’ to video a message of support ‘faces for the Forces campaign aims to collect a million messages of support for the troops serving in Afghanistan‘ there was also a list of celebs who had already done this, winkball also proclaim with a Union Jack ‘Made in Britain’, I can’t wait for their videos supporting UK oil exploration in Las Malvinas… Anyway this is some mischievous PR for war, it is not for example campaigning for better pay and conditions, or for lifelong aftercare for people who are tricked into killing by military training and then left to rot when the inevitable consequences of that play out over the rest of their lives. If you want to support a soldier who is both brave and takes his moral obligations seriously support Joe Glenton who will face a court martial on Friday the 5th of March-

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was locked up in a military prison since 9th November until his release on the 9th December because of his stand against the war in Afghanistan.

At the last hearing Joe gave an undertaking: Not to contact any media agency directly or indirectly. If contacted directly or indirectly, must decline to comment, other than to say he may not by order of the Court Martial Not to appear at or lend support to any political meeting.

Joe gave this undertaking as since being locked up he has been diagnosed as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He needs to be able to get proper treatment as it is evident that the Army have clearly not shown Joe a duty of care. It is therefore up to Joe to seek treatment for his PTSD if he is to be fit enough to face his Court Martial. Despite his request for treatment he has never been given any help from the Army.

The Ministry of Defence are worried about what Joe is saying and doing.They are determined to shut him up. The messages of support that Joe received when he was in Colchester Military jail inspired him and did not go unnoticed by the powers that be.

It is not possible for the court to stop other speaking out in favour of Joe’s stand against the war. Joe has made his position clear: The war in Afghanistan is illegal the methods employed in conducting the war are unlawful and he is not prepared to return to fight it. It is up to his supporters, which are many, to keep up the pressure and ensure that Joe’s stand against this war is raised as an important part of the resistance to Brown and his warmongers.

While Stop The War have called for a demo outside the court-

SUPPORT L/CPL JOE GLENTON
FRIDAY 5 MARCH 9.30AM
MILITARY COURT CENTRE
MERVILLE BARRACKS, OFF BUTT RD
COLCHESTER C027UT

I believe some useful action could be taken by writing to the Judge Advocate General regarding Joe and his case and telling them you support his stand and support a military that actually is as it professes to be- allows soldiers to refuse unlawful, unjust or immoral orders. This is the essence of a military that cannot be used for massive politically directed war crimes, following orders regardless is what allows any and all of the historic genocides, a democracy should not need mindlessly obedient troops, that is the characteristic of a tyranny. Do not fall for the military discipline red herring, this is not about the need for structure and effective action, this is about judging the serious issue of a war of aggression and soldiers being able to refuse to follow such orders thus starving political war criminals of the means to prosecute illegal wars. So, write a message and send a copy to each of the following addresses (you can also copy the message to the support address for Joe defendjoeglenton@gmail.com)-

The Office of the Judge Advocate General
9th Floor
Thomas More Building
London WC2A 2LL
Email

The Military Court Service
Building 59
Trenchard Lines
Upavon
Pewsey
Wilts SN9 6BE
Email

Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth
Floor 5, Main Building,
Whitehall, London,
SW1A 2HB
Email or Email

Write what you like, here are some ideas, mine is in comments-

War Resistors– I am very concerned about the arrest of Lance Corporal Joe Glenton on charges of “disobeying a lawful order” for speaking at an anti-war demonstration and to the media, expressing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan.

The human rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression are protected both under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and under the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which have been ratified by the United Kingdom. When speaking at an anti-war demonstration in London on 24 October, and to the media, Joe Glenton made use of his right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.

The restrictions of these rights as enshrined in the UK Armed Forces Act 2008 are in violation of both, the ICCPR and the ECHR, in as much as they are not “necessary in a democratic society”. In expressing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, Joe Glenton did not reveal “operational secrets” or any other sensitive information – he expressed his personal political opinion, which is his protected human right. Not Joe Glenton’s actions were unlawful, but the orders given to him.

I therefore call on you to drop all charges against Joe Glenton, and to immediately release him from prison. I urge you to respect human rights.
Lance/Corporal, Royal Logistics Corps.

Joe’s letter to Gordon Brown-

I am writing to you as a serving soldier in the British Army to express my views and concerns on the current conflict in Afghanistan.

It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy.

I believe this unethical short-changing of such proud men and women has caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan.

I have seen qualities in the Afghan people which have also been for so long apparent and admired in the British soldier. Qualities of robustness, humour, utter determination and unwillingness to take a step backwards.

However, it is these qualities, on both sides, which I fear will continue to cause a state of attrition. These will only lead to more heartbreak within both our societies.

I am not a general nor am I a politician and I cannot claim any mastery of strategy. However, I am a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, which has given me some small insight.

I believe that when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harm’s way, the government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right, i.e. for the protection of life and liberty.

The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there.

I do not believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right. I implore you, Sir, to bring our soldiers home.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Glenton

Military & Families Against The War

Military families and former soldiers will travel from across the country on Monday to demand that Gordon Brown brings the troops home from Afghanistan. They will deliver a petition signed by tens of thousands who believe that the war in Afghanistan is futile to the Prime Minister at Downing Street at 5pm.

Graham Knight, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, said: “We want to remind the government of the sacrifices our loved ones have made and continue to make. “This government has taken us into two wars – unprepared, underfunded and under false pretences.”

Joan Humphries, the grandmother of Kevin Elliot who was killed in August, will also join the protest at Downing Street. “I feel very strongly that the war is unjust and we have no chance of winning,” she said.

Among the former soldiers who will join the families to deliver the petition are Ben Griffin, who served as an SAS soldier in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Kevin Roach who served in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo and World War II veterans Bertie Lewis, who served in Bomber Command, and Jim Radford.

Mr Knight added: “Christmas is always a time of reflection for people who have suffered loss. But we don’t have to suffer alone and we don’t have to suffer in silence. In holding a vigil in Downing Street for the loved ones we have lost, we also want to remind the government that over 60 per cent of the British public think the troops should come home.”

Posted in Anti War, War on Terror Scam. Tags: . Comments Off on Military & Families Against The War

Americans Arrested for Plotting Violence Abroad

Federal agents arrested seven men in North Carolina on Monday and charged them with plotting to wage “violent jihad” outside the United States, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court in Raleigh, N.C. …The government charged Daniel Boyd, a 39-year-old American who traveled to Afghanistan two decades ago to fight the Soviets, with recruiting six young men, including two of his sons, to take part in a conspiracy “to advance violent jihad, including supporting and participating in terrorist activities abroad and committing acts of murder, kidnapping or maiming persons abroad.”

Quite apart from the fact that I will believe the evidence when I see it (or lack thereof)… So if a person is going to commit violence abroad they are to be arrested, yet I doubt all the world’s militaries are worrying about incarceration. These chumps mistake (if the Feds are to be believed…*cough*) … is not doing the war crimes in the correct uniform, US or UK fatigues and they’re heroes! Drop the ‘Jihad’ call it a ‘Surge’ and bingo! Homecoming parades and a lifetime of creeping PTSD you are not encouraged to get treated for until you whack your partner and then maybe your jail might have a psych program that hasn’t been cut. Glory!

Malalai Joya & Lance Corporal Joe Glenton Speak Out

(Coming soon- I was kindly sent a review copy of Malalai Joya’s new book ‘Raising My Voice’ so stay tuned next week to marvel at my madskilz of literary criticism.)

Stop the War, Feyzi Ismail– On Thursday 23 July, the Stop the War Coalition held one of its most electrifying rallies in its eight year history. The inspirational anti-war Afghan MP Malalai Joya was joined on the platform by Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, a serving British soldier who was speaking in public for the first time against the horror caused by the war in Afghanistan. Malalai Joya has been called one of the bravest women in Afghanistan. She told the 300-strong audience that she’s survived five assassination attempts and is still not safe with personal security guards or by wearing a burkha to cover her identity. Yet she continues to campaign against foreign occupation and fundamentalist warlords, and for women’s rights and education. She believes all NATO troops must leave Afghanistan immediately. Elected to the Afghan parliament as its youngest MP in 2003, her first speech called on the Afghan government to prosecute the warlords and criminals also present in the assembly. But she had barely started her speech when her microphone was cut off, angry men were raising their fists towards her and she had to be escorted out by a human chain of supporters and UN officials around her. In 2005 she told the assembled parliament that it was “worse than a zoo.” Two years ago she was suspended from the parliament.


She told the audience of the suffering of Afghans, and in particular women, at the hands of both occupation forces and the warlords who benefit from the occupation. If the war was ever about eradicating opium, 93% of global opium production now comes from Afghanistan, and £500m goes into the pockets of the Taliban every year because of the drug trade. Afghans have lost almost everything, she said, except that they have gained political knowledge. And they are against the occupation. She holds little hope for the upcoming elections in August. She said the ballot box is controlled by a mafia of warlords and criminals, and that even if the democrats in Afghanistan could put up a candidate, they would inevitably become puppets of the US and NATO, or they wouldn’t survive in office. NATO could not possibly provide a solution because the troops are despised for the carnage they have brought to the country. As Malalai repeated a number of times in the meeting, no nation can liberate another nation, and only the oppressed can rise up against their oppressors. The only solution, she said, was for the anti-war movement internationally to speak out and demonstrate against the war in their own countries, “because our enemies are afraid of international solidarity.” It will be a prolonged and risky struggle, she continued, but the Afghans must liberate themselves.

Soldier ashamed and disllusioned

The other highlight of the meeting was the testimony of a serving British soldier. While Malalai fights against the war in Afghanistan, more and more British troops – who equally risk their lives fighting in Afghanistan – are realising the futility of this project. Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who fought in Kandahar in 2006, told the audience that he came back ashamed and disillusioned. He said the army and the politicians never explained why they were there or what was going on, only that British troops were helping the Afghan people. When he found that the Afghans were fighting against them, this came as a real shock. He spoke of the discontentment in the ranks, which he described as dangerous, and the need for Britain to withdraw its troops.

Two years ago when Glenton heard he was being posted back to Afghanistan, he decided the only sensible thing to do was to leave the army, even illegally, as he did not believe that Britain was doing anything constructive in Afghanistan. He now faces up to two years in a civilian prison. Stop the War Coalition declared it would support Glenton and any other soldier who faced the courts on account of being against the war. Andrew Murray, Chair of Stop the War, opened the meeting by reminding us that the Stop the War Coalition was founded eight years ago in response to the threatened invasion of Afghanistan. Now that the British government has shifted its focus to Afghanistan – discussing the possibility of sending more troops, as the death toll rises past that in Iraq – so the anti-war movement will step up its campaign to mobilise public opinion to demand that all the troops are brought home as soon as possible. Public opinion in Britain has indeed shifted against the war in Afghanistan. Whatever support the war had initially – for reducing opium production, for the reconstruction taking place, for keeping the Taliban in check, for defending women’s rights and bringing democracy – people are now cutting through the media spin. They know this is an unwinnable war, that there is no reconstruction taking place and that the longer we stay the more death and destruction we cause. As Malalai put it, the war being waged by the British government in Afghanistan not only causes untold suffering for the Afghans, but it takes away from our humanity too.

In the event of the 200th British soldier that is killed in Afghanistan, Stop the War will call on all its local groups across the country to organise street protests. The current death toll stands at 188 and is rising at an average of about one per day. Stop the War will also be announcing shortly details of a major national demonstration in November to mark the anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion in 2001.

Malalai Joya’s new book Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books.

Brutal Karma

An American soldier captured by the Taliban, he apparently says in video released that US forces should leave Afghanistan, was he tortured in order to make him say that? (Or is he stating the truths he has learned?) America has zero moral authority over insisting the soldier be treated as to the Geneva conventions, his captors could torture him to death over a long period on video and would be doing no more than the US does to prisoners. The Taliban could score a propaganda victory, release him in good condition after having treating him well. But again, as the allied forces have decided propaganda is best served as terrorism- fight us and we will bomb your people and torture captives to death, can we expect the already brutal Taliban to act better than their opponents. No one should be tortured. But apparently even our media thinks it impolite to mention our countries use torture so they call it ‘abuse’.

I think the American empire is now at a stage where any president must have a war, just like kissing babies or having a Twitter account, their legitimacy must in part be earned by how much foreign blood they spill (at knock down rates), look at how entitled the political establishment is to the war drug, Dean is a medical doctor-

JUAN GONZALEZ: In terms of the—to get back again to other issues right now, I’d like to ask you about the continuation and expansion of the American war in Afghanistan. Do you have concerns about—that this is becoming really President Obama’s war—

HOWARD DEAN: It is.

JUAN GONZALEZ: —and the impact on our country in the future?

HOWARD DEAN: Look, again, you know—and I don’t have to say anything nice; I’m not in the administration. But I’m with Obama on his conduct of the war. I always said, when I was running against the Iraq war, that Afghanistan was different.

Let me tell you what the stakes are now. And what I find incredibly refreshing about this president is he uttered words that Lyndon Johnson never said, which is that we cannot win this war militarily. He knows that from the get-go. Here’s what’s at stake. It’s not just the Taliban. I think we could probably control the Taliban and the al-Qaeda in the Northwest territories by doing some of the things we’re already doing—drones and air power and so forth. Roughly 50 percent of the Afghan people are women. They will be condemned to conditions which are very much like slavery and serfdom in a twelfth century model of society where they have no rights whatsoever. So, I’m not saying we have to invade every country that doesn’t treat women as equal, but we’re there now. We have a responsibility. And if we leave, women will experience the most extraordinary depredations of any population on the face of the earth. I think we have some obligation to try and see if we can make this work, not just for America and our security interests, but for the sake of women in Afghanistan and all around the globe. Is this acceptable to treat women like this? I think not.

AMY GOODMAN: We just interviewed an Afghan parliamentarian, Dr. Wardak. She said the opposite. She said, yes, she agrees with you on the way women are treated, but that this is worsening the treatment, that the increased number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the huge number of troops that are coming in right now, are alienating the Afghan population.

Their own excuse refuted by the very people they claim to be helping, (you don’t think that’s a patronising talking point to cover yet another make work drive by the military-industrial-congressional thingy-majig do you?). Obama’s doing this differently?

Holbrooke faced very few tough questions–not even on drone strikes. Rep. Lynn Woolsey did press Holbrooke on the fact that 90 percent of the administration’s war supplemental goes towards military expenses, while the counterinsurgency strategy calls for a ratio of 80 percent political and 20 percent military.

Even by their own strategy they are not even trying, the smart change is merely to put an expert user of death squads in control

It turns out the commander of this international order of assassins has just been appointed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. As part of the “fresh thinking” in the Obama administration, epitomized by the COIN crowd, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal replaces Gen. David McKiernan. So who is McChrystal? A 2006 profile in Newsweek put it this way:

“JSOC is part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he said America would have to ‘work the dark side’ after 9/11. To many critics, the veep’s remark back in 2001 fostered his rep as the Darth Vader of the war on terror and presaged bad things to come, like the interrogation abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. But America also has its share of Jedi Knights who are fighting in what Cheney calls ‘the shadows.’ And McChrystal, an affable but tough Army Ranger, and the Delta Force and other elite teams he commands are among them.”

The dark side includes McChrystal’s overseeing of Camp Nama, a detainee center outside of Baghdad (since renamed and relocated) notorious for its brutality. The very same administration that is up on its high horse about forbidding torture has just elevated one of the chief torturers to direct Obama’s war in Afghanistan. It is hardly inconceivable that what we saw at Camp Nama – beatings, degradation of prisoners, and outright, cold-blooded murder – is going to be replicated on a nationwide scale.
That’s what they call “fresh thinking” over at Obama’s Pentagon.

I’m always puzzled why relatively intelligent people think the military will establish human rights and gender equality, because like yeah they’ve been at the forefront of all human rights struggles and feminist revolutions haven’t they?

The scope of the problem was brought into acute focus for me during a visit to the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, where I met with female veterans and their doctors. My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and the downward spirals many of their lives have since taken.

So the spending remains overwhelmingly military and the war run by a war criminal Cheney admired.

To actually help the people in Afghanistan-

  • Support RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

  • Also see rethinkafghanistan.com

    Not Our War, Not in Our Name

    Foreign Secretary David Miliband has defended the UK’s continued military presence in Afghanistan, after eight soldiers were killed in 24 hours. Some 184 service personnel have died there since 2001, more than the 179 killed in Iraq. With Britain’s role being called into question, Mr Miliband said UK forces were stopping Afghanistan becoming “a launch pad for attacks” by terrorists. “This is about the future of Britain,” he added.

    10% Auto-translation (with apologies to Otto)-
    Our military & establishment can’t let go of its colonial and imperial past or conning young people with a weakness for camouflage into serving elite interests, the government can’t disobey Washington and they disrespect the British people enough to peddle these pathetic lies to sell this slaughter. And hey notice no death toll of Afghans, like they fucking matter. I love the smell of white phosphorous in the morning!

    Stop the War Coalition calls: Emergency Protest Downing Street Monday 13th July 5-7 pm

    Support RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

    Off you Fuck Miliband.

    Same Shit, Different War

    The Wall Street Journal reports on the return of the body count- Army Deploys Old Tactic in PR War– of course it’s the WSJ so it is from the perspective of what is best for US imperialism.

    The practice has revealed deep divides in military circles over the value of keeping such a score in a war being waged not over turf, but over the allegiance of the Afghan people. Does it buck up the troops and the home front to let them know the enemy is suffering, too? Or does the focus on killing distract from the goals of generating legitimacy and economic development?

    Old school imperialists are more reserved-

    “Recording an ongoing body count is hardly going to endear us to the people of Afghanistan,” says British Royal Navy Capt. Mark Durkin, spokesman for the 42-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, or ISAF.

    But at least the WSJ is open about this being a tactic of the media war-

    The Army began a rethink when the 101st Airborne Division took over Afghan media operations in April 2008. Commanders worried the U.S.-led coalition appeared to be losing ground. The U.S. military routinely releases information about Americans killed in action. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 618 Americans have died in and around Afghanistan, 456 killed in combat. Remaining silent about enemy deaths gave the false impression that the U.S. was losing, says Lt. Col. Nielson-Green, spokeswoman for the 101st and a proponent of the new approach.

    But it repeats mythical versions of history which ensure the only lessons learned are- America, Fuck Yeah!

    That changed when the U.S. found itself mired in a guerrilla war in Vietnam, where front lines were blurred and villages taken or lost didn’t indicate who was winning, says Dale Andrade, senior historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. “Vietnam was the first war in which the body count became the one and only statistic on which victory was measured,” he says.

    Some battlefield commanders inflated body counts to appear more successful than they were. The American public “kept hearing these stories about how two of our soldiers were killed and 100 Viet Cong were killed,” says Mr. Andrade. He says that eventually Americans wondered: “If we’re killing so many people, why aren’t we winning?”

    As well as fraud it led to the slaughter of civilians who were counted as combatants (a fungible fudge the WSJ also resurrects preferring US establishment sources on Afghanistan, so to correct the record here’s the list of victims of the Azizabad massacre from RAWA) and many dissenting Americans didn’t ask ‘why aren’t we winning?’ they instead exclaimed, we must stop massacring the Vietnamese. Oddly the anti war movement has no place in the WSJ article, imagine, corporate media acting as a propaganda arm for US foreign policy, good job they learned their lessons after Iraq. Although the modern opposition is fractured, some having been co-opted by the Obama campaign, some not questioning the [manifest destiny of exceptionalism]-ism so much as just preferring soft and smart power although, you do learn some history repeating facts though-

    KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (yes she’s in caps!)- Holbrooke faced very few tough questions–not even on drone strikes. Rep. Lynn Woolsey did press Holbrooke on the fact that 90 percent of the administration’s war supplemental goes towards military expenses, while the counterinsurgency strategy calls for a ratio of 80 percent political and 20 percent military.

    Then there is also this to ponder, why might so many people still live in the bubble of the imperial myth, hmmmm?

    A Tiny Revolution

    About 60,000 Americans died in Vietnam. No one knows exactly how many Vietnamese civilians died, but there is good reason to believe the number exceeds 3 million. And that would not count the destruction in Cambodia and Laos or the half-million children born with deformities caused by defoliants. Robert McNamara believes 3.4 million Vietnamese were slaughtered. Even an ardent supporter of the war like Michael Lind concedes that the number is in excess of 2 million — or, to go by a familiar metric, one third of the Holocaust.

     So let’s check the chapter on the Vietnam War in one of the leading textbooks used in US colleges, “American Foreign Policy,” authored by Bruce Jentleson, a Duke University professor of political science and former Al Gore advisor:

     American casualties in Vietnam numbered more than two hundred thousand, including almost sixty thousand deaths. Vietnamese casualties numbered in the hundreds of thousands as well.

    That’s it for the whole book. It’s not that Jentleson is math-averse. The book gives you the precise body count for the Holocaust, Darfur, etc. The author only wants every American college student to know that the Vietnamese suffered almost as much as the Americans. Maybe some even died. There’s no way to know. But this is only the 3rd edition of the textbook, so perhaps new research will inform future editions about this matter.

    Update: Privatisation

    Jeremy Scahill

    According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan…

    Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars.

    Malalai Joya Talks, You Listen

    Just like in Iraq, war has not brought liberation to Afghanistan. Neither war was really about democracy or justice or uprooting terrorist groups; rather they were and are about U.S. strategic interests in the region. We Afghans have never liked being pawns in the ‘Great Game’ of empire, as the British and the Soviets learned in the past century.

    It is a shame that so much of Afghanistan’s reality has been kept veiled by a western media consensus in support of the ‘good war.’ Perhaps if the citizens of North America had been better informed about my country, President Obama would not have dared to send more troops and spend taxpayers’ money on a war that is only adding to the suffering of our people and pushing the region into deeper conflicts.

    A troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan, and continued air strikes, will do nothing to help the liberation of Afghan women. The only thing it will do is increase the number of civilian casualties and increase the resistance to occupation.

    -Malalai Joya was just a child when the Soviet Union invaded her native Afghanistan, forcing her family to withdraw into refugee status in Iran and Pakistan after enduring years offighting.  She returned in 1998 and lived under the reign of the Taliban, while actively fighting to progress human and women’s rights within the country. Joya is the youngest member of the Afghan parliament but her membership was suspended in 2007 after publicly condemning other members.

    Read the rest.

    Umff

    I’m afraid I have such debilitating lurgi of my respiratory bits (sorry if I’ve lost you with the medical jargon there) that breathing poorly and moaning softly have taken up all my time (maybe trying to act surprised at the continuing cover up of Iraq war crimes has affected my immune system, Straw!). Anyways in the meantime check Peter Tatchell on Hicham Yezza and below Mark Steel’s current column which again has not shown up in The Independent-
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Feeding The War Machine

    At the strip mall in Hot Springs where Daren Stewart worked, however, most of the recruiters were on antidepressants or antianxiety medication. They worked 12- to 14-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, Stewart said. Commanders cursed, humiliated and screamed at soldiers who fell short of monthly quotas, threatening to ruin their careers or withhold time off with loved ones, he said. Stewart turned to alcohol to cope with stress so severe it destroyed his marriage and made his hair fall out.

    Sgt. 1st Class Henry Patrick said fellow recruiters in the Hot Springs station were told to shift conversations with potential recruits away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That didn’t sit right with him. “I’d tell them they had a 50-50 chance,” said Patrick, 43. “For the few people I did put in, they liked the fact that I was honest with them.”

    Staff Sgt. Wade Bozeman, another Hot Springs recruiter, said he also hated the tacit expectation that he should compromise his ethics to meet recruiting goals, whether it meant falsifying records or lying to recruits. Deeply depressed, the 37-year-old gained 50 pounds and started suffering from insomnia, blackouts and panic attacks. His wife, Jill Bozeman, asked his commanders for help, to no avail.

    The Courage to Resist National Week of Letter Writing to Show Support for War Resisters is March 16-23, 2009

    We are asking allies of the G.I. resistance movement to gather together to write:

    • Letters of support to war resisters in prison, awaiting court martial, or seeking refuge in Canada
    • Letters to the Canadian government asking that war resisters be allowed to stay
    • Letters to our own government demanding amnesty for war resisters

    [More @ Courage to Resist]

    London Gaza Demo New Details

    Stop Gaza Massacre
    Hands Off Gaza: Stop the Bombing: Free Palestine
    Assemble 12:30pm Embankment, WC2

    Nearest tube Embankment.
    Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative and many other organisations.

    Join the demonstration – message from Tony Benn:

    The Israeli Government, armed and supported by President Bush, with its savage attack on the people of Gaza now represents the greatest threat to security in the Middle East and the world peace movement is mobilizing on a massive scale to defeat this aggression.
    I appeal to everyone who can possibly do so to attend the many demonstrations that are being held here so that the British government is left in no doubt as to the strength of opposition there is to this war.

    Posted in Anti War. Tags: . Comments Off on London Gaza Demo New Details

    Hanuka Message From The Shministim

    A few days after the December 18th rally, the day after Tamar Katz was finally released from solitary confinement, the young Shministim gathered in a room to celebrate and to decide what they wanted to say to each and every one of you. This is the message they carefully wrote together:

    Dear friends and supporters,

    On the eve of Hanuka, the festival of lights, we, the Shministim, would like to take a moment to thank you for all you’ve done for us and for our struggle.

    While we sit down with our families and light the first candle of the holiday, symbolizing the rebellion against an occupying army, some of us are still behind bars, denied the freedom to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones, denied the right to freedom of thought and political consciousness.

    During this dark period of consecutive jail terms, military trials and attempts to break our beliefs, you were our light.

    Each and every one of you who helped with the campaign, who sent a supporting letter, who sent the link of the website to a friend. You’ve let our struggle be heard around the world, the letters, the postcards and posters, the demonstrations, all of those actions fulfilled our wildest dreams.

    We would like to thank you once again and wish you all a happy and free holiday.

    in solidarity,
    The Shministim

    december18th.org

    jewishvoiceforpeace.org

    Posted in Anti War, Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Hanuka Message From The Shministim

    Establishment vs. Brian Haw, Again

    Indymedia

    brian haw narrowly escaped parliament square ban in court today

    the GLA couldn’t get rid of him. the government couldn’t get rid of him. even the flawed SOCPA legislation failed in it’s main aim to get rid of him, but today, a magistrate at horseferry road very nearly succeeded!

    the case arises from an alleged assault by brian on a man named nigel cutteridge back in september 2007. although police didn’t even approach brian about the incident until two months later.

    nigel cutteridge has previous convictions and is certainly a maverick (he also ran a strange website http://www.angelnigel.com although this is currently down).

    during the sentencing today, mr cutteridge (who is a self-confessed alcoholic) was expelled from the court by the judge. he was then expelled from the courthouse building because of threatening behaviour towards one of brian’s supporters, barbara tucker.

    at the time of the alleged assault, cutteridge had been drinking cider early in the morning, and had continually interrupted a conversation between brian haw and activist/comedian mark thomas (who was one of the defence witnesses in the case). at the time of the incident, cutteridge was apparently dressed in a pirate hat, wore lipstick, had his pants outside his trousers, and was wielding a cricket bat!

    some time after the alleged assault, he boasted to an independent journalist (quite by chance in the street) about how he had been egged on by parliamentary police to goad brian and hassle him – he told her the police were very happy with him and would arrange publicity for him when they arrested brian. the journalist took notes of the strange unsolicited conversation, but the court didn’t get to hear this evidence and the judge also refused to allow other dvd evidence of police collusion, including a long conversation between cutteridge and parliamentary police.

    judge tubbs accepted the word of mr cutteridge (whose police record shows an astounding 213 stop-and-searches, as well as other convictions or cautions including ‘drunk and disorderly’ and ‘behaviour liable to cause alarm or distress’), and she found brian guilty last week of common assault.

    at the sentencing today at horseferry road, she imposed a 56-day ‘exclusion order’, banning brian from parliament square, whitehall and the area around parliament.

    this would have given police the opportunity to remove his last few placards, the tent he sleeps in, and the voice of conscience he represents to the MPs that voted for the wars in iraq and afghanistan. in a flurry of legal activity, barristers argued that the ban could not be imposed as it would effectively make him homeless, but judge tubbs was adamant the decision would stand.

    however, brian’s barrister succeeded in lodging an immediate appeal, and in the face of that, judge tubbs had to finally back down, suspending the sentence until the outcome of such appeal.

    in the meantime, brian and a few loyal supporters will continue their vigil in parliament square throughout christmas and into the new year – please offer them some support if you can.

    Courage To Resist & The Israeli Shministim

    We are U.S. military service members and veterans who have refused or are currently refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We stand in solidarity with the Israeli Shministim (Hebrew for “12th graders”) who are also resisting military service. About 100 Israeli high school students have signed an open letter declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli army and their opposition to “Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel.” In Israel, military service is mandatory for all graduating high school seniors, and resisters face the possibility of years in prison.

    We have also refused to participate in unjust acts of military aggression, and many of us have gone to prison or currently live with that possibility as a result. We believe that resistance to unjust war is a bold assertion of humanity in the face of overwhelming violence.

    The Global War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is propped up by racism and dehumanization and sets the stage for never-ending war and occupation. We are inspired by the brave refusal of our brothers and sisters in Israel to take part in these destructive policies, and we want to let them know today, December 18th—the day of international solidarity with the Shministim—that they have our deepest respect and support.

    Posted in Anti War. Tags: . Comments Off on Courage To Resist & The Israeli Shministim