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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 22 January 2013 - 5:09pm
[Adapted from a talk given for Chicago Area Peace Action, January 17, 2012.]
I'd like to begin by asking you all two questions about your current opinions on U.S. drone strike policy and what we can do about it. Be honest in your responses, because for Just Foreign Policy, understanding how people view these questions is crucial to understanding how to engage more Americans in reforming the drone strike policy. There's no wrong answer. No-one is going to be judged or compared favorably or unfavorably to anyone else based on their answers. It's not an exam. It's an opinion poll or focus group for people trying to engage more Americans in the task of reforming U.S. drone strike policy. Your answers are going to shape Just Foreign Policy's activity on these questions going forward. And they're also going to shape my presentation this evening.
Here is the first question:
Is it your current opinion that there are significant ethical, legal, or political problems with the current drone strike policy?
The responses I'm looking for are either yes, I think there are significant problems, no, I don't think there are significant problems, or I don't know, I'm not sure. Ignore any peer pressure you might perceive in this room. What was your opinion was when you woke up this morning? The mainstream media claims that according to opinion polls, 80% of Americans, including the majority of liberal Democrats, support the current policy. Are you more like the 80%, or are you more like the 20%?
Shut your eyes and cover them with a hand, a scarf, a book, or piece of paper, so we can have something like a secret ballot and you won't be intimidating the people around you.
Raise your hand if your current thinking is that there are significant ethical, legal, or political problems with the current drone strike policy.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 16 January 2013 - 12:33pm
Time to make yet another entry to the list of US hypocrisies!
Over the weekend, Israeli army and police units forcibly evicted a group of Palestinian activists from Bab al-Shams, a tent village that had been erected on what is reportedly a Palestinian-owned parcel of land in the area of the West Bank known as E1. The village—which included a library, kitchen, media room, and a medical center staffed by two doctors, two nurses, and six other health professionals—was established by the activists as a nonviolent protest against Israeli intentions to build thousands of new settlements in E1, an action which would effectively cut-off Palestinians from Jerusalem, threaten the viability of any future Palestinian state in a two-state solution, and, of course, trounce upon the Palestinians' rights to their own land.
In a statement, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called Israel out on their impending settlement plans and on disrespecting the Palestinians' right to peaceful protest. But, of course, we can't expect so much from the US.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 24 December 2012 - 2:48pm
We're running a petition at MoveOn in support of President Obama's choice of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
Guess who signed?
|#2426||Robert Bergdahl||Dec 23, 2012||Hailey, ID|
If the Pope Called for a Christmas Ceasefire in Afghanistan, Could "Ceasefire!" Enter Mainstream Debate?
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 14 December 2012 - 8:19pm
When the Israeli military sharply escalated its attacks on Gaza and threatened a ground invasion in late October, the demand for ceasefire entered mainstream public and media discourse in relation to the conflict immediately. The same thing happened when the Israeli military attacked Gaza in late 2008, as it did when the Israeli military invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, the demand for ceasefire has never been able to maintain a strong foothold in mainstream public and media discourse. This is particularly striking now that the war has clearly entered its zombie, autopilot phase. Western leaders have largely given up trying to explain or justify why Western troops are still in Afghanistan and why they are still killing and being killed. Why are we there? What do we realistically hope to accomplish through further killing and dying? Who knows? Who cares? We're there today because we were there yesterday. We'll be there tomorrow because we were there today.
Osama bin Laden is dead, but the war in Afghanistan is alive.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 14 December 2012 - 3:39pm
Since President Obama took office, the war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of over 1500 US troops, according to Just Foreign Policy's US Deaths in Afghanistan: Obama vs. Bush counter, which draws on data provided by iCasualties. By comparison, 575 US troops died during President Bush's two terms.
The rise in troop deaths during President Obama's presidency has not been altogether surprising given the administration's strategy in Afghanistan. In 2009, President Obama oversaw not one but two offensive surges, each of which added about 33,000 troops to the roughly 34,000 that were deployed in the country when he took office. By August 2010, more troops had died in Afghanistan under President Obama's command than during President Bush's seven years at the helm. By October 2011, that figure had doubled.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 10 December 2012 - 6:48pm
If more Americans could get unplugged from the myths which have been used historically to engineer public acquiescence in U.S. foreign policy, how much could that help us reform U.S. foreign policy in the future?
Oliver Stone's 10 part documentary series on the history of U.S. foreign policy is currently running on Mondays on Showtime. Stone documents that the U.S. has not been noticeably more altruistic than other countries which have tried to exert global power: it's a fairy tale that "other countries have interests but we only have values."
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 30 November 2012 - 3:12pm
Yesterday, an overwhelming majority (62-33) of US Senators—including every Senator who caucuses with the Democrats save two—voted in favor of a measure that calls upon President Obama to continue withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan at a steady pace, as he promised in his address to the nation in June 2011. The "sense of the Senate", which was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), also calls upon President Obama to end all regular US combat missions in Afghanistan no later than December 31, 2014, and to "take all possible steps" to end such operations earlier.
Why is this vote significant? At present, there is no timetable for removing the 68,000 US troops that remain in Afghanistan. President Obama does not plan to announce such a timetable until after his administration has decided how many troops to leave in Afghanistan post-2014. This decision is expected to happen within the next few weeks, which means that a decision on a drawdown timetable for 2013-2014 may also be imminent.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 26 November 2012 - 6:53pm
This is slightly adapted from a presentation given at a Congressional briefing on drone strike policy on November 16, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
I want to talk about what Congress could do about drone strikes in the next 1-2 years.
To begin with, some political context, as I see it.
First, I don't think anyone will argue with me if I say that for the last ten years Congress has done very little.
Second, I think it would be extremely helpful if Congress would do something. I think Congress doing something is intrinsically important in itself, in addition to whatever the thing is. The reason is that the media, the public and the Administration take cues from what Congress is talking about. If Congress isn't talking about something, then it's perceived as not very controversial. More people would contact Congress if we had a vehicle for them to contact Congress about.
Third, I don't think it's as hard for Congress to do things on this as some people seem to think. There's a kind of conventional wisdom that Congress can't do anything because no-one cares because no U.S. soldiers are being killed by the policy. I think this conventional wisdom is completely wrong. No U.S. soldiers are being killed in Honduras and yet a hundred Members of Congress are willing to sign letters about human rights in Honduras, and these letters get press and pressure the Administration. No U.S. soldiers are being killed in Bahrain but Members of Congress are willing to sign letters about human rights in Bahrain and these letters get press and pressure the Administration. Conversely, plenty of U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan before 2009 and Congress didn't do much about that. So whether or not American soldiers are being killed is not as decisive as some people seem to think.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 21 November 2012 - 3:06pm
Hamas and Israel have reportedly agreed to terms for a ceasefire, which should be taking effect right about now. This is a welcome development.
But just because a ceasefire has been agreed upon doesn't mean that we can or should forget the United States's hypocritical response to the violence, which was on display as late as this morning when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on a bus bombing in Tel Aviv said by some to be perpetrated by Hamas.
US Should Condemn Israeli Assault On Gaza And Call For Immediate Cease-Fire (But Of Course, It Hasn't)
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 15 November 2012 - 2:17pm
For the last few days, Gaza has been under assault by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The US press is reporting the Israeli attack to be in response to rocket fire coming from the Gaza strip, although the sequence of events isn't quite that simple. So far, 15 Palestinians have been killed, eight of which have been reported to be civilians, including a pregnant woman, a 10-month old son of a BBC worker, and three infants. A rocket launched from Gaza after the Israeli assault began is said to have killed three Israeli civilians.