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We've Caught the Taliban Chief! Can We Go Home Now?

How the U.S. handles the Pakistani arrest of the top Afghan Taliban military commander, and the aftermath of the U.S. military assault in Marja, may have a decisive impact on whether we get to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan soon, or in the far-off future. Some analysts - like Gareth Porter - think the key motivation of the present U.S. military escalation is political in the bad sense: in order to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban, first the U.S. has to "show that nobody pushes us around," just as President Bush had to escalate militarily in Iraq before he could cut deals with the Sunni Awakening and the Mahdi Army militia. It's a grim world in which the most powerful country kills people to look tough; but right now, the way to minimize human suffering is for the U.S. to take advantage of recent "successes" to take a high road towards going home.

The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar could cut two ways, the New York Times notes. While it's obviously a psychological blow, at the least, against the Afghan Taliban, it could complicate efforts to reach a peace deal:

 

JFP 2/16: At least 19 civilians killed in Marja offensive

Just Foreign Policy News
February 16, 2010


Team America Kills Kids in Marja
Five Afghan children were killed by a U.S. rocket in Marjah. "Civilian casualties are inevitable," said U.S. officials before launching their weekend military assault on Marja in southern Afghanistan, and in this case, they were telling the truth.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/483

Urge President Obama and Congress to comply with their obligation to protect civilians under the laws of war.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/marjah

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) At least nineteen civilians have been killed so far in the US/NATO offensive in Marjah, Democracy Now reports. DN interviewed Wall Street Journal reporter Anand Gopal, who says the assault in Marjah is perceived as a "show of force" by coalition forces that will change little. Gopal says it's very difficult for reporters to get to Marjah; almost all the reporters who are there are embedded reporters, so they're only seeing one side of the story; and we won't know for some time if there are many more cases of civilian deaths.

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Team America Kills Five Kids in Marja

"Civilian casualties are inevitable," said U.S. officials before launching their weekend military assault on Marja in southern Afghanistan, and in this case, they were telling the truth. Yesterday, the New York Times reports, a U.S. rocket strike "hit a compound crowded with Afghan civilians... killing at least 10 people, including 5 children."

What justification has been provided by the government of the United States for its decision to kill these five children?

It will be argued that the government of the United States did not decide to kill these five children specifically, and that's absolutely true. The U.S. government did not decide to kill these particular children; it only decided to kill some Afghan civilians, chosen randomly from Marja's civilian population, when it decided to launch its military assault. These five children simply had the misfortune of holding losing tickets in a lottery in which they did not choose to participate.

Recall the U.S. government's instructions to Marja's residents before the assault:

 

Afghan villagers should stay inside and "keep their heads down" when thousands of U.S. Marines launch a massive assault on a densely-populated district in coming days, NATO's civilian representative to Afghanistan said Tuesday.

[...]

NATO forces have decided to advise civilians in Marjah not to leave their homes, although they say they do not know whether the assault will lead to heavy fighting.

These five kids were staying inside, as instructed. It didn't save them from U.S. rockets. Perhaps they weren't keeping their heads down.

JFP 2/12: US Assault on Marjah Begins

Just Foreign Policy News
February 12, 2010


U.S. Begins Marjah Assault
The United States and NATO have launched a major assault in the Marjah district in southern Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are in imminent peril. Urge President Obama and Congress act to protect civilians in Marjah, in compliance with the obligations of the United States under the laws of war.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/marjah

Jewish Voice for Peace: "The Only Democracy?"
Jewish Voice for Peace launches a new blog on the struggle for civil and human rights in Israel and Palestine.
http://theonlydemocracy.org/

Telegraph/Reuters: Palestinians dressed as Na'vi from Avatar protest Israel's wall
If "a picture is worth a thousand words," this one is worth 2000.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/7222508/Palestinians-dressed-as-the-Navi-from-the-film-Avatar-stage-a-protest-against-Israels-separation-barrier.html

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U.S./Top News

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JFP 2/11: Afghan Civilians Imperiled by US/NATO Assault in Marjah

Just Foreign Policy News
February 11, 2010


Afghan Civilians Imperiled by US/NATO Assault in Marjah
The United States and NATO are poised to launch a major assault in the Marjah district in southern Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are in imminent peril. Will President Obama and Congress act to protect civilians in Marjah, in compliance with the obligations of the United States under the laws of war?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/480

Rethink Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties "Inevitable" in Largest Military Operation of the Afghanistan War

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QUhpHYyTBQ

CCR: Wiesenthal Center Desecrates Muslim Graves to Build "Museum of Tolerance"

The Center for Constitutional Rights files a petition on behalf of the Palestinian families of those buried at the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem, urging international bodies to demand that the government of Israel halt further construction of the "Museum of Tolerance" on the cemetery.
http://www.ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/mamilla

Beverly Bell: Fighting Like Hell
"Walking on Fire" author Beverly Bell on Haiti's struggle for freedom from foreign domination.
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/fighting-hell

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Afghan Civilians Imperiled by US/NATO Assault in Marjah

The United States and NATO are poised to launch a major assault in the Marjah district in southern Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are in imminent peril. Will President Obama and Congress act to protect civilians in Marjah, in compliance with the obligations of the United States under the laws of war?

Few civilians have managed to escape the Afghan town of Marjah ahead of a planned US/NATO assault, raising the risk of civilian casualties, McClatchy News reports. "If [NATO forces] don't avoid large scale civilian casualties, given the rhetoric about protecting the population, then no matter how many Taliban are routed, the Marjah mission should be considered a failure," said an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Under the laws of war, the US and NATO - who have told civilians not to flee - bear an extra responsibility to control their fire and avoid tactics that endanger civilians, Human Rights Watch notes. "I suspect that they believe they have the ability to generally distinguish between combatants and civilians," said Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch. "I would call that into question, given their long history of mistakes, particularly when using air power. Whatever they do, they have an obligation to protect civilians and make adequate provision to alleviate any crisis that arises," he said. "It is very much their responsibility."

JFP 2/10: Few civilians escape ahead of US/NATO offensive

Just Foreign Policy News
February 10, 2010


UK Stars Campaign for Financial Transactions Tax to Save Public Services, Help World's Poor
Plus the video is way funny.
http://robinhoodtax.org/

Respect Democracy in Japan
Voters in Japan have spoken. They don't want the US Futenma military base in Okinawa. Ask President Obama and Congress to respect the will of the majority in Japan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/okinawa

If Michael Moore Would Run for President
If Michael Moore would run for President in 2012, it could be a game-changer in American political life. It would likely shorten the war in Afghanistan by at least six months, and the U.S. and Afghan lives that would be saved would alone justify the effort.
http://www.truthout.org/if-michael-moore-were-run-president56805

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Few civilians have managed to escape the Afghan town of Marjah ahead of a planned US/NATO offensive, raising the risk of civilian casualties, McClatchy News reports. "If (NATO forces) don't avoid large scale civilian casualties, given the rhetoric about protecting the population, then no matter how many Taliban are routed, the Marjah mission should be considered a failure," said an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

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Save Democracy in Japan

Voters in Japan have spoken. They don't want the U.S. military Futenma base in Okinawa.

But instead of respecting the will of the majority of Japanese voters, U.S. officials have tried to bully the newly elected reformist Japanese government into reneging on its election promise to remove the US military base from Okinawa.

Since, as the world knows, the United States of America stands for "promoting democracy," why don't we promote democracy by getting our base out of Okinawa like Japanese voters want?

Last summer, Japan had a national election. Yukio Hatoyama, the new prime minister whose coalition won the election, campaigned on a promise to move the US military's Futenma base off Okinawa. But US officials pressured the Japanese government to break its election pledge, warning the Japanese government of "serious consequences" if it did not accept the base, the Washington Post reported. Threats by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates caused Japanese news media to describe him as a "bully," the New York Times reported.

JFP 2/9; WaPo: Haiti Relief Effort Still Falling Short

Just Foreign Policy News
February 9, 2010


Respect Democracy in Japan
Voters in Japan have spoken. They don't want the US Futenma military base in Okinawa. Ask President Obama and Congress to respect the will of the majority in Japan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/okinawa

If Michael Moore Would Run for President
If Michael Moore would run for President in 2012, it could be a game-changer in American political life. It would likely shorten the war in Afghanistan by at least six months, and the U.S. and Afghan lives that would be saved would alone justify the effort.
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/02/09-3

Juan Cole: More Nuclear Scaremongering about Iran
In case you missed this link in yesterday's Just Foreign Policy News: Juan Cole demolishes the hype about Iran's nuclear program.
http://www.juancole.com/2010/02/more-nuclear-scaremongering-about-iran.html

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http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News

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If Michael Moore Would Run for President

If Michael Moore would run for President in 2012, it could be a game-changer in American political life. For starters, it would likely shorten the war in Afghanistan by at least six months, and the American and Afghan lives that would be saved would alone justify the effort.

If Moore announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination now, and followed up that announcement with a vigorous campaign focused on the struggles of rank-and-file Democrats, it would re-mobilize rank-and-file Democratic activists. It's possible that he might even win; but win or lose, the campaign could arrest and reverse the current rightward, pro-corporate trajectory of our national politics, which is the predictable consequence of the failure of Team Obama to deliver on its promises from 2008, which in turn was the predictable consequence of the doomed effort to try to serve two masters: Wall Street and Main Street.

Like few people with his political views, Michael Moore needs no introduction to the Democratic primary electorate. To most rank-and-file Democrats, the name Michael Moore stands for a set of progressive populist ideas: health care for all, workers' rights, opposition to Wall Street's stranglehold on Washington, closing down the wars of empire and bringing our troops home.

In 1984 and 1988, the Jesse Jackson campaigns showed what could be accomplished running a populist, issue-based, movement campaign in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. In 1984, Jackson got more than 3 million votes, a fifth of the total, and won 5 primaries and caucuses. In 1988, he got almost 7 million votes and won seven primaries and four caucuses; at one point, following his victory in the Michigan caucus, he was ahead in delegates.