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JFP 12/11: Can Arlen Specter End the War in Afghanistan?

Just Foreign Policy News
December 11, 2009


Can Arlen Specter End the War in Afghanistan?
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents in the Senate of the President's military escalation in Afghanistan. His Democratic primary opponent, Joe Sestak, supports the war and supports the escalation. If peace advocates turn the Pennsylvania primary into a referendum on the war, it could have national impact, like the 2006 showdown between Lamont and Lieberman over Iraq.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/428

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

1) U.S. groups that raise money for extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank continue to enjoy tax-exempt status in the United States, even though their actions violate international law and contradict U.S. government policy, write Andrew Kadi and Aaron Levitt in the Guardian.

2) A recent article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports that appointees to the U.S. government have to pass a "pro-Israel litmus test" - even if their government posts don't concern U.S. policy in the Middle East, notes Stephen Walt at his blog at Foreign Policy.

3) Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan warned Israel not to use its airspace to attack Iran, Al Bawaba reports. "If Israel were to violate Turkish airspace in order to conduct reconnaissance operations on Iran, Ankara's reaction would resemble an 'earthquake'," Erdogan told an Egyptian newspaper.

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Can Arlen Specter End the War in Afghanistan?

Who knew Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter would emerge as one of the most vocal opponents in the Senate of the President's military escalation in Afghanistan?

But so it is. In an op-ed this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Specter not only challenges the "surge"; he also challenges fundamental premises of the war. Specter writes:

I'm opposed to sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan because I don't believe they are indispensable in our fight against al Qaeda.
[...]
But if al Qaeda can organize and operate out of Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, then why fight in Afghanistan, which has made a history of resisting would-be conquerors - from Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, to Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s?

What can one Senator do? Well, one Senator can introduce legislation, for starters. At this writing, there isn't a single piece of legislation before the Senate that expresses opposition to continuing the war indefinitely. This is in marked contrast to the House, where Representative McGovern's bill requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy from Afghanistan has more than 100 co-sponsors. That's like having 23 Senators.

But Arlen Specter is in a unique position to do much more than introduce legislation. He could turn his Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary into a referendum on the Afghanistan war, because his primary opponent, Joe Sestak, supports the war and supports the escalation:

JFP 12/10 - Ignatius Claims Obama Shift on Reconciliation with Taliban

Just Foreign Policy News
December 10, 2009


Obama Invokes "Just War," But Is the War in Afghanistan "Just"?
"Accepting Peace Prize, Obama Evokes 'Just War,'" notes the headline in the New York Times, referring to President Obama's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama invoked the concept of a "just war," but tellingly, he did not try to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is a "just war." Such an argument would not be convincing. There there are criteria for a "just war." The war in Afghanistan does not meet these criteria.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/426

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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Obama Invokes "Just War," But Is the War in Afghanistan "Just"?

"Accepting Peace Prize, Obama Evokes 'Just War,'" notes the headline in the New York Times, referring to President Obama's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama did indeed invoke the concept of a "just war." But tellingly, he did not try to argue that the U.S. war in Afghanistan meets the criteria to be judged as a "just war."

A plausible explanation for the President's failure to argue that the war in Afghanistan is a "just war" is that he recognizes that such an argument would not be convincing.

As President Obama noted in his speech, there are criteria involved in the "just war" concept. It isn't just a matter of proclaiming that a war is justified. There are tests.

This matters, because a substantial part of the U.S. and world population subscribes to the theory of "just war." In particular, more than a fifth of the U.S. population are estimated to identify as Catholics. The concept of "just war" - that wars can be considered "just" only if they meet certain criteria - is an official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Here's part of what the official Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about this:

Avoiding war

2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

JFP 12/9 - Kucinich to Introduce Bill Calling for Afghanistan Withdrawal

Just Foreign Policy News
December 9, 2009


Kucinich, Invoking War Powers Act, to Introduce Bill Calling for Afghanistan Withdrawal
Five minute video; Kucinich describes his bill at about minute 4.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnEFhVaLrdk
Press Release:
http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=159823
Kucinich Dear Colleague:
http://kucinich.house.gov/UploadedFiles/privileged_resolution_DC.pdf
Resolution: Remove US forces from Afghanistan:
http://kucinich.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Privileged_Resolution_Afghanistan.pdf
Resolution: Remove US forces from Pakistan:
http://kucinich.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Privileged_Resolution_Pakistan.pdf

Counterspin: US Media Bury Afghan Civil War
Janine Jackson interviews Just Foreign Policy on the US media's failure to report on the Afghan civil war (eight minutes.)
http://justforeignpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Naiman_Counterspin_USMedia_Bury_Afghan_Civil_War.mp3
The full program, including an interview with Norman Solomon on the media's treatment of the escalation, can be downloaded here:
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3952

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JFP 12/8- Counterspin: US Media Bury Afghan Civil War

Just Foreign Policy News
December 8, 2009


Counterspin: US Media Bury Afghan Civil War
Janine Jackson interviews Just Foreign Policy on the US media's failure to report on the Afghan civil war (eight minutes.)
http://justforeignpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Naiman_Counterspin_USMedia_Bury_Afghan_Civil_War.mp3
The full program, including an interview with Norman Solomon on the media's treatment of the escalation, can be downloaded here:
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3952

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

1) The Pentagon on Monday announced the deployment of 16,200 troops to Afghanistan, McClatchy News reports. Approximately 1,500 Marines will deploy before the end of December 2009.

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JFP 12/7: Honduras Election Turnout Claims Debunked

Just Foreign Policy News
December 7, 2009


The Real News: Honduras 62% Turnout Stat Has No Basis
The widely reported figure of 62% turnout has no basis in reality, the Real News reports. Only the Honduran organization Hagamos Democracia collected significant election data. HD was supported by the National Democratic Institute, which is funded by the US government and affiliated with the Democratic Party. HD found a 47.6 percent participation rate over its sample of 1,000 voting tables. But instead of blowing the whistle, the NDI neglected to mention this 15 percent discrepancy in their preliminary report on the election. They declared the elections to be orderly and peaceful, also making no mention of the brutal attack on peaceful protesters by security forces in downtown San Pedro Sula, an event that two NDI delegation members were witnesses to.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/07/honduran-coup-regimes-cla_n_382827.html

Feingold/McGovern/Jones: Don't Deploy More Troops Until Congress Has Voted

http://feingold.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=320378

We Need a Clean Vote Now on Afghanistan Escalation

Novel concept: Congress should debate and vote on sending more troops to Afghanistan _before_ they are deployed. And it should be a clean, up-or-down vote, not linked to flood relief for farmers or the extension of unemployment benefits.
http://www.truthout.org/1205093

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We Need a Clean Vote Now on Afghanistan Escalation

Under our constitutional democracy, Congress has the power and the responsibility to establish a policy on President Obama's plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and, if Congress opposes sending more troops, to try to block or alter this policy. The question now is whether Congress will act before the policy is implemented, and whether it will do so in a "clean" vote - an up or down vote solely on the question of sending more troops, unentangled with unrelated issues like flood relief for farmers or extending unemployment benefits.

If Congress does not act quickly, the President's proposal may become an accomplished fact. Already, President Obama has ordered Marine units to be deployed later this month. If Congress waits for months to debate the issue, most of the new troops may already be in place.

Anti-war Representatives are pressing for an early vote on funding for more troops so President Obama's policy will be judged by Congress before thousands of additional troops are sent into combat, the Politico reports. "Let us have this debate before he moves forward," Rep. Jim McGovern [D-MA] said. "I'd like it to be before we escalate one single American troop over there."

JFP 11/30: Honduran Elections Marred by Police Violence, Censorship, Non-Recognition

Just Foreign Policy News
November 30, 2009


[The Just Foreign Policy News may be intermittent in the next week, as the editor is traveling. The regular schedule will resume on December 7.]

CEPR: Honduran Elections Marred by Police Violence, Censorship, International Non-Recognition, CEPR Co-Director Says

Elections Won't Resolve Political Crisis; Democracy Must Be Restored Before Free Elections Can Be Held
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/11/30-8

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) President Obama plans to lay out a "time frame" for winding down US involvement in the war in Afghanistan when he announces his decision to send more forces, the New York Times reports. But officials said it would not be "as firm as the current schedule for withdrawing troops in Iraq."

2) Election observers said about 500 people marching peacefully in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula were repressed by tear gas and water cannons as a presidential election was held, Nica Times reports. Juan Barahona, who leads a resistance group critical of the de facto government and the elections, had told followers not to protest on the day of elections for fear of military repression but left it up to local chapters to decide.

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Grijalva letter to Obama on Honduran elections

In a letter to President Obama on November 25, Rep. Grijalva urged reconsideration of U.S. support for elections in Honduras under the coup regime.