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JFP News 10/22: Gates, Obama "moving" on troop decision

Just Foreign Policy News
October 22, 2009


NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
Just Foreign Policy, together with Peace Action, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and Voters for Peace, has launched a new project to try to stop U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan. Help us by calling Members of Congress, asking where they stand, and reporting the results. You can also post press clips documenting Congressional opposition to the war.
http://NoEscalation.org

Background:
NoEscalation.org: Can the Peace Movement Reach President Obama?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/378

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Defense Secretary Gates said Thursday he is moving ahead with his recommendation on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan and would first tell the president before a NATO defense ministers meeting this week, Reuters reports. Obama said Wednesday he could reach a decision on his new war strategy for Afghanistan before the outcome of an Afghan election run-off on November 7.

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NoEscalation.org: Can the Peace Movement Reach President Obama?

If there were ever a time when the peace movement should be able to have an impact on U.S. foreign policy, that time should be now. If there were ever a time for extraordinary effort to achieve such an impact, that time is now.

The war in Afghanistan is in its ninth year. McChrystal's proposal could continue it for another ten years, at a likely cost of a trillion dollars, and many more lives of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians. The contradiction between domestic needs and endless war was never more apparent. Congress fights over whether we can "afford" to provide every American with quality health care, but every health care reform proposal on the table will likely cost less than McChrystal's endless war. A recent CNN poll says 6 in 10 Americans oppose sending more troops.

Democratic leaders in Congress are deeply skeptical: as far back as June, Rep. Murtha and Rep. Obey voted for Rep. McGovern's amendment demanding an exit strategy, and that was before the Afghan election fiasco, when international forces failed at their key objective of providing security, and before McChrystal demanded a 60% increase in U.S. forces, on top of the 50% increase approved earlier this year. Our troops are "exhausted," Murtha says.

Top Administration officials share the skepticism. Vice-President Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and Afghan scholar Barnett Rubin, an advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke, have all been arguing against a troop increase: the political people on the grounds that the American people and Congress won't support it; Biden on the grounds that it would be a diversion from Pakistan; Rubin on the grounds that it would be counterproductive to reconciliation in Afghanistan.

JFP 10/21: NoEscalation.org - Get Congress on the Record

Just Foreign Policy News
October 21, 2009


NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
Just Foreign Policy, together with Peace Action, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice, and Voters for Peace, is launching a new project to try to stop U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan. Help us by calling Members of Congress, asking where they stand, and reporting the results. You can also post press clips documenting Congressional opposition to the war (like the Boston Globe item posted today on John Tierney, #2 below.)
http://NoEscalation.org

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Americans are evenly and deeply divided over whether Obama should send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the Washington Post reports. 47 percent of those polled favor the buildup, while 49 percent oppose it. [A recent CNN poll said 6 in 10 oppose sending more troops - JFP.] Just a third of Democrats favor sending about 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, with 61 percent opposed - 51 percent strongly so. Independents divide on the troop issue, with 47 percent favoring a substantial increase and 50 percent opposing it.

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JFP News 10/20: Most Americans Say "Afghanistan = Vietnam"

Just Foreign Policy News
October 20, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) A majority of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan has turned into "another Vietnam," CNN reports. 59 percent oppose sending more U.S. troops. Of those opposed, 28 percent want Washington to withdraw all U.S troops, 21 percent are calling for a partial American pullout, and 8 percent say the number of troops should remain the same.

2) Secretary of Defense Gates said the US cannot wait for problems surrounding the legitimacy of the Afghan government to be resolved before making a decision on troops, Reuters reports. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had said Obama's pending decision on additional U.S. troops depended on whether the Kabul government is effective.

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JFP News 10/16: Iran Ready for Nuclear Deal?

Just Foreign Policy News
October 16, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Iran experts and regional analysts say that Iran finally may be ready to make a deal on its nuclear program, less because it is under pressure than because it has already achieved what it set out to do, the New York Times reports. The point when both sides have a chance to declare victory may have been reached. "If the Iranian endgame is to keep enrichment, and if the United States' endgame is to make sure there are no nuclear weapons in Iran, then it can be a win-win," said Trita Parsi of NIAC. Experts say Iran's intention all along was to strengthen its hand in dealing with the West, to achieve legitimacy, security and recognition of its leadership in the region. Iran's meeting with the US and Western powers in Geneva brought it within reach of those goals. The US negotiated directly with Iran and, perhaps more important, Iran walked away with an implicit acceptance of its right to continue enrichment on its own soil, which it considers a matter of national sovereignty.

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JFP News 10/15: In Defense of Rachel Corrie

Just Foreign Policy News
October 15, 2009


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In Defense of Rachel Corrie
When a local theatre company does a production of the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie," based on the writings of the slain American peace activist, controversy is sure to follow. But here are a few things strident critics of the play don't want you to know.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/372

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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In Defense of Rachel Corrie

A theatre near me is putting on a production of the play, "My Name is Rachel Corrie." As elsewhere, the local production has drawn vigorous hassle from those who dedicate themselves to trying to punish any criticism in the U.S. of human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government.

Tonight there is a "talkback" after the performance. Some people are bringing handouts, and I was asked to write something.

In 1996, I was a volunteer for Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Shortly after I arrived in Hebron, 2 of us were arrested and threatened with deportation when members of the CPT sat on the roof of a Palestinian home that the Israeli army intended to demolish. In addition, friends of mine teach at Evergreen and had Rachel as a student. So when I was asked to write something, of course I said yes. Rachel's story is close to my heart, not just as a symbol of human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli government with the acquiescence of the United States, but as a symbol of Americans putting themselves on the line for international solidarity. John Reed is buried in Red Square; veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade have been granted Spanish citizenship. When the Palestinians regain sovereignty over Al-Aqsa, I hope they do something there for Rachel.

Rachel's Death
Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old student at Evergreen State College and volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was killed in 2003 by a bulldozer operated by the Israeli army while attempting to prevent Israeli forces from demolishing the home of Palestinian pharmacist Samir Nasrallah in the Rafah area of Gaza near the border with Egypt.

House Members on Afghanistan

Among Members of the House of Representatives, when there was an opportunity to join with others to go on the record specifically in favor of an "exit strategy" to end our military occupation of Afghanistan, or against sending more U.S. troops, who has signed on, and who voted yes?

The excel spreadsheet at this link gives an answer.

100 Members have co-sponsored Rep. McGovern's bill calling for the Pentagon to provide Congress with an exit strategy.

138 Members voted yes on June 25 when McGovern's amendment - same language as the bill - came up for a vote.

57 Members signed a letter sent to President Obama on September 25 urging him to reject an increase in the number of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan.

23 Members have co-sponsored Rep. Lee's bill barring funding for an increase in troops.  

All told, 150 Members of the House have taken at least one of these actions.

UPDATE: At this link, you can see all Members of the House, not just the 150, and their phone numbers. If your Representative has not co-sponsored the McGovern bill, call and ask your Rep. to co-sponsor the McGovern bill. If your Representative has co-sponsored the McGovern bill but not the Lee bill, call and ask your Rep. to co-sponsor the Lee bill. Report your result by commenting on this blog.

JFP News 10/13: McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax

Just Foreign Policy News
October 13, 2009

McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax
Even if Obama were to approve General McChrystal's request, the 40,000 troops wouldn't arrive in time to significantly affect the 12-month window McChrystal says will be decisive. So McChrystal's request isn't about what's happening in Afghanistan right now. It's about how many troops the U.S. will have in Afghanistan a year from now and beyond. There is no emergency requiring a quick decision by President Obama.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/369

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Some national security officials, concerned President Obama might be abandoning full-fledged counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, are claiming new intelligence assessments suggesting that al Qaeda would be allowed to return to Afghanistan in the event of a Taliban victory, writes Gareth Porter for Inter Press Service. But two former senior intelligence analysts question the alleged new intelligence assessments. They say that the Taliban leadership still blames Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda for their loss of power after 9/11 and that the Taliban-al Qaeda cooperation is much narrower today than it was during the period of Taliban rule.

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McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax

It's a time-honored Washington tradition. If you want to bully the government into doing something unpopular and the public into accepting it, manufacture a false emergency. Iraq war? If you don't approve it, mushroom cloud. Banker or IMF bailout? If you don't approve it, financial collapse. Social security privatization? If you don't approve it, the system will go "bankrupt." Our brand is crisis, as James Carville might say.

General McChrystal says that if President Obama does not approve 40,000 more U.S. troops for Afghanistan, and approve them right away, "our mission" - whatever that is - will likely "fail" - whatever that is.

But even if President Obama were to approve General McChrystal's request, the 40,000 troops wouldn't arrive in time to significantly affect the 12-month window McChrystal says will be decisive. So McChrystal's request isn't about what's happening in Afghanistan right now. It's about how many troops the U.S. will have in Afghanistan a year from now and beyond.

There is no emergency requiring a quick decision by President Obama. The current situation in Afghanistan is being used as a bloody shirt to try to lock America into to an endless war, and, as Andrew Bacevich argues in the Boston Globe, lock the Obama Administration into the continuation of military force as the main instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

The Washington Post reports:

In his 66-page assessment of the war, McChrystal warns that the next 12 months will probably determine whether U.S. and international forces can regain the initiative from the Taliban.