Commentary

Sunset an Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq

Judging from press reports, when Congress returns from its August recess in early September, the United States military will have been bombing "Islamic State" fighters in Iraq for a month, with a broader set of missions than originally advertised, and with plans to continue bombing for months.


The United States Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution require that such a war be authorized by Congress in order to continue. We cannot accept that such major decisions about the use of our power and resources, putting U.S. soldiers at risk and shaping the perceptions of the world about us by shedding the blood of foreigners that we don't know, be made indefinitely behind closed doors by executive fiat.

Gaza Blockade Hangs Fire in Cairo: Where Is the Anti-War Left?

The greatest struggle facing the anti-war movement in the United States is the struggle to get people who come to anti-war demonstrations after a war starts to engage politically to prevent the same wars in the future. In the case of U.S. policy towards Iran, we created a political movement to support diplomacy with Iran to prevent war in the future. But in the case of Gaza, there is no political movement in the United States to support diplomacy to prevent war in the future.

Consider:

1. While Israel was bombing and invading Gaza, there were demonstrations across the United States against the war and against U.S. support for the war.

Tens of Thousands Descend on Washington to March for Gaza


Organizers estimated 50,000 protesters marched on Washington to demand an end to US support of Israel's operation in Gaza on August 2, 2014.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators from across the country descended on Washington, DC, to call for an end to US support for Israel's latest military operation in Gaza. The demonstration included a march to the Washington Post and Caterpillar headquarters, where protesters delivered mock coffins to symbolize the over 1,600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed in Israel's onslaught. The march began and ended at the White House, where speakers such as Cornel West addressed the massive crowd.

At one point in the march, organizers had to reroute the procession because the front of the march was about to collide with the rear. In one section of the route, motorists were at a standstill as a dense stream of protesters passed. Organizers said that the march spanned twelve blocks—road and sidewalks included—leading to an estimate of 50,000 attendees.

The large turnout and presence of a diverse group of solidarity activists made a particular impact on some Palestinian-American demonstrators. "It gives me hope," a Palestinian-American woman from Connecticut said.

Thousands have been demonstrating in cities around the world since Israel's operation began on July 8. Palestinian solidarity protests throughout the United States have drawn record crowds demanding that the US stop its support of Israel's killing of Palestinians in Gaza. The US gives over $3 billion in taxpayer money to the Israeli government each year, and Congress recently approved $255 million in additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome.

Americans for Peace Now Backs Kerry on Gaza Ceasefire

 Americans for Peace Now Backs Kerry on Gaza Ceasefire

Robert Naiman, Daily Kos, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/30/1317767/-Americans-for-Peace-Now-Backs-Kerry-on-Gaza-Ceasefire

Protesters at “New York Stands With Israel” Press Conference Insist City Council Members "Do Not Speak for Us!"


Protesters confront Rep. Eliot Engel and others as they depart the "New York Stands With Israel" press conference at New York City Hall on Monday, July 14, 2014.

Around a hundred protesters surrounded New York City Hall during a “New York Stands With Israel” press conference Monday morning. The event, which was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, was intended to give New York City legislators the opportunity to justify Israel’s week-long bombing campaign of Gaza. But chants of “shame on you, City Council”, “New York stands with Palestine”, and “from Brooklyn to Palestine, genocide is a crime” penetrated the press conference—and media reports of it.

“Our elected officials are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law,” Adalah-NY member Mindy Gershon stated. “These officials don’t speak for us!”

“We want to let the City Council know that most of New York does not support racist genocide and apartheid by [Israel],” said Bill Dores, a member of Al-Awada Right to Return Coalition.

Union Square March & Rally Against US Support for Israeli Impunity


Protesters chant "money for health and education—not for Israel's occupation!" while marching down Broadway in Greenwich Village, NYC on Friday, July 11, 2014.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Union Square in New York City on Friday to call for Americans to end their support of Israeli impunity in Palestine. Demonstrators held a rally outside Max Brenner Chocolates—a target of boycotts for their financial support of the Israeli army's Golani Brigade, often cited for their involvement in war crimes in the occupied territories—then marched down and back up Broadway to rally again in the Square.

The US sends over $3 billion a year in taxpayer money to Israel. Many millions more in American money is invested in companies that are involved in the occupation.

Around the world, thousands continue to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to Israeli aggression. Cities such as Paris, Oslo, Chicago, Jakarta, Rome and San Francisco have played host to demonstrations within the last week. In London alone, participation is said to have been around 10,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that "no international pressure" would stop him from continuing to strike Gaza. He also said that "there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan," thus expressing the intent to occupy Palestinian territory indefinitely.

Netanyahu's War: What Is It Good For?

Originally published at Huffington Post.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush's excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu's chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn't yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.

Thousands Gather for NYC Protest for Palestine

Max Blumenthal addresses the crowd gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on 42nd St & 2nd Ave in NYC on July 9, 2014.

State Department Spokesperson flustered by question on Palestinians' right to defend themselves

When the deteriorating situation in Israel/Palestine came up during today's State Department press briefing, Spokesperson Jen Psaki fluently regurgitated the official Israeli line on their escalating air assaults on Gaza: Israel is responding to rocket fire from Gaza; Israel has the right to defense itself; yada yada.

But when confronted by the question of whether Palestinians also have the right to defend themselves, Psaki apparently lost the ability to form a cogent thought. So strange a notion it was to her that anyone would need to defend themselves from Israel, she asked whether there was "a specific event or a specific occurrence" the reporter was referring to. Ultimately, she evaded the question by throwing out the word "terrorist organization" and that "the threat ... to civilian populations is of great concern to us." But really, only if they are Israeli.

Meanwhile, eight children are reported to have been killed tonight in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. How many more will US officials allow to die before they call for a ceasefire?

Read the full exchange below.

QUESTION: But you feel that sort of the Israeli air raids, like maybe hundreds of them so far this day, are proportionate to the rockets?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not – I wouldn’t validate the accuracy of that number, but I would say, Said --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the sorties – there are hundreds of sorties.

MS. PSAKI: I would say, Said, that I don’t think any country would be expected to allow rockets to come in and threaten the lives and health and well-being of the citizens in their country, and Israel has the right to defend themselves.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you believe that the Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend themselves?

Iraq war powers: where do House members stand?

This post is so that I can refer to my spreadsheet in blogging. For now, the attached spreadsheet is not intended to be pretty, only to be accurate. My hope is especially to educate journalists to the fact that nearly half the House is on record opposing the invocation of the 2002 Iraq AUMF to justify the use of force in Iraq today.

The columns are as follows:

Lee-Rigell Iraq (80): the eighty signers of the Rigell-Lee Iraq war powers letter, which is here: http://lee.house.gov/sites/lee.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Scanned%20from%20a%20Xerox%20multifunction%20device001_0.pdf Lee's press release is here: http://lee.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/bipartisan-letter-calls-for-congressional-authorization-before-any-military

nix Iraq AUMF (182): the 182 House Members who voted on June 19 to bar funding for using the 2002 Iraq AUMF. That roll call is here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll326.xml

nix AUMF: this column has a 1 if the person voted to defund the Iraq AUMF.

either (192): this column has a 1 if the person signed the Rigell-Lee letter, voted to defund the AUMF, or both. 192 Members are in this category. That is, 192 Members of the House are on record as opposing the use of the 2002 Iraq AUMF in Iraq today.

R-L not AUMF (10): these are the ten Members of the House who signed the Rigell-Lee letter but did not vote yes on defunding the Iraq AUMF on June 19. They are: Julia Brownley (voted no) Michael Capuano (did not vote) Andre Carson (voted no) Eleanor Holmes Norton (not allowed to vote) Collin Peterson (voted no) Charles B. Rangel (did not vote) Bobby L. Rush (did not vote) Matt Salmon (voted no) Kyrsten Sinema (voted no) Bennie M. Thompson (did not vote).