Afghanistan Top Ten

Afghanistan: Ten reasons to resist By Courage to Resist.

  1. Like Iraq, it is also illegal
  2. No military solution to terrorism
  3. Funds used for war are needed at home
  4. Civilian casualties are not acceptable
  5. War is not good for women in Afghanistan
  6. Support the troops: Bring them home now
  7. Torture and human rights abuses
  8. Climate change and resource wars
  9. War destabilizes Afghanistan and the region
  10. Respect Afghani self-determination; No to global military intervention

1- Like Iraq, it is also illegal

According to international law experts, the invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is as illegal as the US presence in Iraq. The United Nations Charter mandates that military force against another country is only justified when used in self-defense or authorized by the UN Security Council. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George W Bush sought an authorization from the UN Security Council to use military force in Afghanistan. The UN resolutions that were passed in response—resolutions 1368 and 1373—never actually authorized military force, but rather, authorized the criminalization and prevention of terrorist activities. Contrary to popular perception, the Bush Administration unfolded an open-ended military operation in Afghanistan with no legal justification for doing so. The administration of Barack Obama is building on this flawed foundation in its continuance and escalation of the war.

“The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the UN charter because the attacks on September 11, 2001 were criminal attacks, not “armed attacks” by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.”
—Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild

2- No military solution to terrorism

There can be no military solution to terrorism. This is because “terrorism” is a tactic that is not tied to any specific place. By pursuing the ever-elusive “terrorist” enemy, the US has waged an open-ended war of attrition in Afghanistan. This occupation breeds the discontent that gives rise to “terrorism” in the first place and has had the effect of bringing forward local opposition to the occupation.

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RAWA Thanks War Resisters

Solidarity statement to U.S. war resisters and Afghanistan occupation veterans from Zoya, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). October 10, 2009

Our message to all the soldiers who are fighting and veterans who were fighting in Afghanistan:

We thank you because we think that you believe that you are struggling and fighting in Afghanistan for bringing democracy and peace for our people. But unfortunately we think that you are also the victims of the wrong policy of your government. And that’s that reason that we think you should condemn this war, which is just bringing more sorrow and pain and blood for the majority of the population and the civilians of Afghanistan. And it’s not helping to bring democracy and security in the country.

And we also want to thank those soldiers who resisted and refused to go to Afghanistan and fight for this so-called “War on Terror”, which is more painful and which is more costly for our people than terrorists. We want to thank you and we think that you should come forward and give your solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, all the democratic organizations, and you should make aware your own people about the reality, about the real nature of this war.

And we think that all people of American and the West should condemn this war and pressurize your governments to stop this very failed and very unsuccessful war, which only our poor people and especially the women have to pay the price for, this war so-called “war on terrorism, and not the real terrorists.

Please also read this, war resistors in the US are being subjected to a horribly familiar regime-

…soldiers have been strip-searched while possibly being filmed. Bishop and Church have also been watched by female guards during strip-searches, while using the restroom as well as while in the showers. Both soldiers have been denied one in-person visit by their attorneys and all phone calls with their attorneys have been illegally monitored by guards.

Seth Manzel, a Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade veteran and executive director of the veteran support group G.I. Voice, said of the matter, “These techniques of sexual humiliation are far too similar to those practiced on foreign prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram in Afghanistan. Is the Army at Fort Lewis using enhanced interrogation techniques to break down American soldiers here at home?”

Church was imprisoned for having gone AWOL, which he did in order to prevent his wife and children from becoming homeless. He tried to get help from his unit, but was denied, and received eight months prison time. Church was eventually forced by this ordeal to give his newborn son up for adoption. According to Church, “With everything that was going on, from me leaving, even though it was to care for my family, because I could find no support from the Army, Amanda and I had to place our son, Austin in a loving home through adoption. We did not want him enduring the strife that we had endured and for him to end up being fatherless, because I would be living in prison.”

Andrew VanDenBergh, a Marine veteran of the Iraq war and a G.I. Voice staff member, said of Leo Church in a press release, “He joined the Army, found out his family was homeless, wasn’t allowed to keep his children from living on the streets, went to take care of his family, had to give a child up for adoption and is now locked in prison and being abused. Being abused for what? For taking care of his children?”

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US Army Drops Prosecution Of War Resistor Ehren Watada

Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will be discharged by the end of the week, concluding the fight over his refusal to deploy to Iraq, an Army spokesman said Monday. After a court-martial proceeding that ended in a mistrial, the Army has elected not to attempt further prosecution and instead will discharge the first lieutenant, who argued he would be participating in war crimes if he fought in Iraq.

“What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service,” said spokesman Joseph Piek at Ft. Lewis, Wash., where Watada has been working at a desk job. The separation is classified as an administrative discharge. Watada’s lawyers said it was granted under “other than honorable conditions.” The Army previously had refused Watada’s offer to resign.

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Courage To Resist- Victor Agosto

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Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, (excerpts)-Having served three years and nine months in the U.S. Army, Agosto was to complete his contract and be discharged on Aug. 3. But due to his excellent record of service and accrued leave, he was to be released the end of June. Nevertheless, due to the stop-loss programme, the Army decided to deploy him to Afghanistan anyway.

 Stop-loss is a programme the military uses to keep soldiers enlisted beyond the terms of their contracts. Since Sep. 11, 2001, more than 140,000 troops have had tours extended by stop-loss.

 When IPS asked Agosto if he is willing to take whatever consequences the Army is prepared to mete out, he replied, “Yes. I’m fully prepared for this. I have concluded that the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are not going to be ended by politicians or people at the top. They are not responsive to the people, they are responsive to corporate America.”

 Agosto added, “The only way to make them responsive to the needs of the people is if soldiers won’t fight their wars, and if soldiers won’t fight their wars, the wars won’t happen. I hope I’m setting an example for other soldiers.”

 IPS spoke with Adam Szyper-Seibert, an office manager and counselor with Courage to Resist. “Currently we are actively supporting over 50 military resisters like Victor Agosto,” Szyper-Seibert told IPS, “They are all over the world, including André Shepherd in Germany, and several people in Canada. We are getting five to six calls a week just about the IRR [Individual Ready Reserve] recall alone.”

 The IRR is composed of former military personnel who still have time remaining on their enlistment agreements but have returned to civilian life. They are eligible to be called up in “states of emergency.” The Army is currently undertaking the largest IRR recall since 2004, despite the recent inauguration of a so-called anti-war president.

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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]

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.

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Courage To Resist: Robin Long

Prisoner of conscience Robin Long’s letter to Obama By Robin Long, prisoner of conscience. November 6, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama,

My name is Robin Long. I am currently serving a 15-month sentence at a Naval brig in California. I am locked up for refusing to participate in the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a military action I felt was wrong and an action condemned by most of the international community.

It was illegal and immoral.

My sentence also includes dishonorable discharge. I was no doubt made an example, because not only did I refuse to deploy by going AWOL but I spoke out. I spoke out about the atrocities that are going on over there and also the extensive web of lies the Bush administration told us and Congress, to go over there. I did all of this very openly while AWOL in Canada, where I was making a life for myself.

When I joined the Army in 2003 I felt honored to be serving my country. I was behind the President. I thought it was an honorable venture to be in Iraq. I was convinced by the lies of the Bush administration just like Congress and a majority of Americans. But just because I joined the Army doesn’t mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally. When I realized the war in Iraq was a mistake, I saw refusing to fight as my only option. My conscience was screaming at me not to participate.

I feel, like many others, that a government that punishes its citizens for taking a moral stand for humanity and against injustices will lose the faith of its people. The war in Iraq was a Bush administration mistake and my punishment is a product of that mistake and failed policy. Please see that I am being punished for my ideals and morals and for standing up to a giant so my voice could be heard. People can’t be afraid to stand up and say “This is wrong, we need change.”

You may say I signed a contract. I’d like to quote from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington in April of 1793 on his thoughts of contracts and the French Treaties. And I quote “When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non-performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes self destructive for the party, the law of self preservation overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of these principals I appeal to the true fountains of evidence, the heart and head of every rational honest man.”

For me to continue to participate in my military contract would have been self-destructive to me at my deepest levels of self. It goes against everything I believe in, my ideals and morals. In the case of the invasion of Iraq, international law was broken, as well as violating our own Constitution. Article VI of the Constitution states that any treaty the US is signatory shall be the supreme law of the land. The invasion broke the rules set out for declaring war in the Geneva Convention. And according to the Nuremburg Principles laid out at the Nuremburg Tribunals, I had a higher international duty supported by our Constitution to refuse service in Iraq.

While I was in Canada I had a child. This sentence will have a lasting impact not only on my life but also on the life of my son. My son and his mother are Canadian (not duel citizenship). With a felony conviction (a year plus a day), it will be very difficult for me to re-enter Canada. I would like to live there so I can be in my son’s life. Every child needs a father. I want to return to my responsibilities as a father.

This sentence is a great hardship because it has an impact on my life that could last well into the future. This would successfully separate a family. My family needs me, to be a father figure and a financial supporter. My son was born after the fact of me deserting. Please don’t punish him more than I already have by being gone now. I love and miss him and the thought of being reunited with him is helping me get through my time here. I feel I made the right decision by refusing and am more than willing to sit in the brig for my ideals. But I worry about the effect this has on my family.

I ask you to please consider granting me presidential clemency or a pardon. I have given this to many different organizations and people to ensure that you receive a copy. I am so happy that you were elected President. I feel real change coming. You are the light after the storm, “Hurricane Bush” if you will.

If you would like more information on me you can listen to an audio interview on couragetoresist.org (below) or read more at freerobin.org, ivaw.org, resisters.ca

-Robin Long

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