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WaPo Changes "AfPak" News Header

In November, members of Just Foreign Policy wrote to the Washington Post, asking it to change its "AfPak" news header: stories about the US war in Afghanistan were preceded by the news header:

"The AfPak War: Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan"

Just Foreign Policy noted that this news header editorialized in news stories, promoting the claims that 1) the US is "combating extremism" in Afghanistan and Pakistan and 2) Afghanistan and Pakistan are "one theater" of conflict.

The Washington Post has now changed its news header, taking on board the second criticism but not the first. It now reads:

"Obama's War: Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan"

See, for example, the news story on Matthew Hoh's resignation, which is now preceded by this header.

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR200910...

Of course, one consequence of Hoh's critique of the war is that the United States is not, in fact, "combating extremism," but rather promoting it.

JFP News 11/16: Two Candles in Congress Against the Siege of Gaza

Just Foreign Policy News
December 16, 2009


Two Candles in Congress Against the Siege of Gaza
This week Members of the House are considering two actions that could have a real impact in improving living conditions for Palestinians on the ground. Reps. McDermott and Ellison are circulating a letter that calls on President Obama to press for an easing in the Israeli blockade of Gaza by making it easier for Palestinians, aid workers, and journalists to enter and leave Gaza, and by improving the access of Palestinian civilians to necessities such as clean water, food, fuel and medicine. Reps. Moran and Inglis are circulating a letter that focuses on the right of university students from Gaza to complete their studies.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/431
Action link:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gaza

Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side the US Government is On With Regard to the Coup in Honduras
Mark Weisbrot reviews the timeline of a coup praised with faint damnation by the US government.
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/16

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Two Candles in Congress Against the Siege of Gaza

Many Americans don't realize that although it might be true that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee can get seventy Senators to sign a napkin, that doesn't mean AIPAC can stop Members of Congress from taking actions to improve U.S. policy towards the Palestinians - actions that could have a real impact in improving living conditions for Palestinians on the ground. This week two such measures are being considered by Members of the House.

Representatives Jim McDermott [D-WA-7] and Keith Ellison [D-MN-5] are circulating a letter that calls on President Obama to press for an easing in the Israeli blockade of Gaza by making it easier for Palestinians, aid workers, and journalists to enter and leave Gaza and by improving the access of Palestinian civilians to necessities such as clean water, food, fuel and medicine.

The McDermott-Ellison letter asks for "immediate improvement" in the following areas:

- Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;
- Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials,
- Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;
- Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;
- Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;
- Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;
- Access to fuel;
- Access to spare parts;
- Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and
- Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

Two "Dear Colleague" Letters on Gaza Siege

Two "Dear Colleague" letters are being circulated in the House this week concerning the siege in Gaza. Just Foreign Policy is asking constituents to email their Representatives and ask them to sign on to both of these letters. Below is a summary and full text of both:

The McDermott/Ellison letter calls on President Obama to press for an easing in the Israeli blockade of Gaza by making it easier for Palestinians to leave Gaza and improving their access to necessities such as clean water, food, fuel and medicine. The letter notes that the siege has “devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependence on erratic international aid, allowed the deterioration of public infrastructure, and led to the marked decline of the accessibility of essential services.”

Moran/Inglis letter, calls on Secretary of State Clinton to put pressure on the Israeli government to allow Gazan students to travel to study at West Bank universities. The letter notes that the Israeli government has banned such travel since 2000 despite the recommendation of the Bertini report, which was incorporated in the “Road Map”, that Israel should ensure Palestinian access “to schools and universities throughout the West Bank and Gaza,” and a ruling of the Israeli High Court that allowing Gazans to study in the West Bank would likely have “positive humane implications.”

McDermott/Ellision Letter
"Support Improvements in Gaza Humanitarian Conditions"

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

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:
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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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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:
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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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