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JFP 10/28: Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?

Just Foreign Policy News
October 28, 2010

Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?
The Washington Post reports that according to the US government's own assessments, US military escalation has failed. Yet the same report says no fundamental change is expected from the December policy review. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is killing low-level fighters and commanders who are being replaced by younger militants less inclined to compromise or follow the Taliban leadership, thereby making a peace agreement more difficult to attain. Is the Pentagon deliberately making peace more difficult to achieve in Afghanistan, so it won't have to accept a timetable for US military withdrawal?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/is-the-pentagon-deliberat_b_775353.html

Video: Author Scott Atran tells MSNBC US should work with the Taliban

Scott Atran, promoting his new book, "Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists," said on "Morning Joe" that the US should work with the Taliban.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/taliban-us-afghanistan_n_774677.html
See also:
Talking to the Enemy: How to Turn the Taliban Against Al Qaeda
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-atran/post_1145_b_774484.html

South of the Border released on DVD

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Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?

On Wednesday, the Washington Post carried a remarkable article reporting that according to U.S. government assessments, the U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan has failed.

The Post's Greg Miller reported that

 

An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency

Miller explains why this is so:

 

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

"The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience," said a senior Defense Department official involved in assessments of the war. Taliban elements have consistently shown an ability to "reestablish and rejuvenate," often within days of routed by U.S. forces, the official said, adding that if there is a sign that momentum has shifted, "I don't see it."

So, since the policy of military escalation has failed, according to the U.S. government's own assessments, we should expect that in December, when President Obama promised that the policy will be reviewed, we should see a fundamental change in policy. Right?

But, according to the same Washington Post report, "no major change in strategy is expected in December."

How could it be, that the policy has failed, according to official U.S. government assessments, and yet no change is expected when the promised review occurs?

JFP 10/27: Kirchner remembered; US officials admit surge is failing

Just Foreign Policy News
October 27, 2010

Remembering Nestor Kirchner, South American Hero Who Defied the IMF
The past president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, has died unexpectedly of a heart attack. U.S. media aren't likely to give us much coverage that indicates what Kirchner meant to many people in South America. This is a pretty safe bet, in part because to understand what Kirchner meant, you have to understand Kirchner's role in a story that the U.S. media have never told properly: how, in the last 15 years, South America has been breaking free of Washington-prescribed economic and security policies. Since the US media never told this story, they'd be hard put to explain Kirchner's role in it.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/remembering-nestor-kirchn_b_774894.html

South of the Border released on DVD

Oliver Stone's documentary South of the Border was released on DVD this week. If you want to see former President Kirchner as many South Americans saw him, and as you are unlikely to see him in the U.S. media, you can get the DVD here.
http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/southoftheborder.html

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs - A Call for Accountability

Iraq Veterans Against the War demands the end of attacks on whistleblowers; calls for the occupations to end and for the troops to come home.
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/27-0

The Taliban Might Negotiate, Even if They Think They're Winning

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JFP 10/26: The Taliban Might Negotiate, Even If They're Winning

Just Foreign Policy News
October 26, 2010

The Taliban Might Negotiate, Even if They Think They're Winning
The oft-repeated claim that "The Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning," has been used to justify military escalation - 30,000 more U.S. troops, as well as the current military offensive in Kandahar, dangerous to human life. But the reason we should believe this claim has never been explained. As a claim about human nature, it defies the last 5000 years of human diplomatic history. As a claim about the Taliban, it suggests without evidence that the Taliban won't negotiate, even if the U.S. would agree to a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces - a demand that the majority of Americans and 60% of House Democrats think the U.S. should implement unilaterally.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/the-taliban-might-negotia_b_774147.html

5000 letters demanding release of Abdallah Abu Rahmah delivered to State Department
Representatives from four US human rights groups met with State Department officials on October 22nd and delivered a letter to Secretary of State Clinton signed by more than 5,000 individuals calling for the US to demand that Israel free Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leading Palestinian nonviolent protest organizer.
http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/5000-letters-demanding-realease-abdallah-abu-rahmah-delivered-state-department

The Iran Nuclear Dispute - A New Approach

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The Taliban Might Negotiate, Even If They Think They're Winning

You can't follow U.S. print media coverage of the war in Afghanistan for any length of time without running into some variation of the following assertion:

 

"The Taliban Will Never Negotiate, As Long As They Think They're Winning."

No serious effort is usually made to substantiate this claim, which is asserted as if it were a self-evident truth. What you generally don't see, reading the newspapers, is a sentence that looks like this:

 

"The Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning, and the reason that we know this is...."

Yet, if you look back over the course of the last year, the assertion that "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning" is a very important claim. Why did the U.S. send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan last year? Because "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning." Why are we killing innocents today in Kandahar? "Because the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning."

A claim that is a key buttress of life and death decisions about people we have never met and know little about and who have no say in our decisions, and yet which has never been substantiated, is a claim that deserves sustained scrutiny.

How could it be a self-evident truth that "the Taliban will never negotiate, as long as they think they're winning?" Logically, two possibilities present themselves:

1) It is an immutable fact of human nature that no party engaged in a conflict ever negotiates as long as they think they're winning. The US never negotiates as long as it thinks it is winning; Britain never has; France never has; no guerilla army or insurgent movement ever has.

JFP 10/25: UN demands US investigate its role in Iraq torture

Just Foreign Policy News
October 25, 2010

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Video: IDF soldiers visit the University of Michigan
Last Wednesday, the University of Michigan campus was visited by two IDF soldiers in an event sponsored by "Stand With Us." One of the soldiers served in the Givati infantry brigade, which bombed a house full of civilians during the Gaza war, killing 21 members of the same family [http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/what-led-to-idf-bombing-house-full-of-civilians-during-gaza-war-1.320816.] About fifty protesters attended the event and revealed shirts bearing the names of Gaza children killed during the Israeli invasion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPDkq2JHfA0

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JFP 10/22: Cholera Epidemic Feared in Haiti

Just Foreign Policy News
October 22, 2010

Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart Gave Senator Coburn a Bum Rap on Haiti Aid
Jon Stewart's campaign against the debasement of public discourse serves the public interest by making it more difficult to shut down needed policy changes, like negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan. Stewart should lead by example by acknowledging that when he accused Sen. Coburn of holding up $1.15 billion in Haiti reconstruction aid, the accusation was false.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/restore-sanity-jon-stewar_b_772476.html

Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?
Failure to cut military spending in Britain will mean draconian cuts in domestic spending, the New York Times reports. Their fate will likely be ours if we don't get serious about cutting the military budget. But we can't get serious about cutting the military budget until we end the war in Afghanistan. By dithering about peace talks - excluding Pakistan and key Taliban leaders - the Pentagon is threatening your Social Security check.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/britains-budget-cuts-wi_b_771570.html

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Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart Gave Senator Coburn a Bum Rap on Haiti Aid

Like many Americans, I have a great deal of sympathy with the thrust of Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on October 30. It's bad enough that the debasement of public discourse is unpleasant, and encourages some Americans to want to withdraw from politics completely; but the debasement of public discourse is also a major obstacle to enacting policies that America needs.

If you think, for example, that endless war in Afghanistan is not in America's interest, and that we would be better off seriously pursuing a negotiated political solution with leaders of the Afghan Taliban and with countries in the region including Pakistan and Iran, it's not in your interest to have a political environment where someone can essentially shut down your voice by accusing you of wanting to "cut and run," or of being "soft on terrorism," or of "not caring about Afghan women." Such a political environment is a mandate for endless war. The debasement of public discourse has been a major obstacle to ending the war in Afghanistan.

This week the New York Times reported that serious efforts towards "talks about talks" have begun between the Afghan government and leaders of the Afghan Taliban. This and similar reports have sparked significant debate: are these developments really significant, or are they being hyped? Are Taliban leaders of sufficient rank being included to make the talks meaningful? Is Mullah Omar, leader of the main branch of the Afghan Taliban, being excluded? Is Pakistan being excluded? If key players remain excluded, won't that be likely to sink the talks?

JFP 10/21: Sen. Coburn gets a bum rap on Haiti aid

Just Foreign Policy News
October 21, 2010

Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?
Failure to cut military spending in Britain will mean draconian cuts in domestic spending, the New York Times reports. Their fate will likely be ours if we don't get serious about cutting the military budget. But we can't get serious about cutting the military budget until we end the war in Afghanistan. By dithering about peace talks - excluding Pakistan and key Taliban leaders - the Pentagon is threatening your Social Security check.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/britains-budget-cuts--wi_b_771570.html

FCNL: Put the Pentagon Budget on the Table
Urge those who seek to represent you to support cuts to the military budget.
http://www.capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=18902746

Nago Resolution demands retraction of Japan-U.S. agreement to relocate Futenma within Okinawa
On October 15, the city assembly of Nago, Okinawa, demanded the retraction of the agreement to relocate the US base within Okinawa, as demanded by public opinion in Okinawa. The resolution was addressed to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.
http://peacephilosophy.blogspot.com/2010/10/nago-citys-resolution.html

Beverly Bell: Surviving in Haiti

A survey of camp-dwelling families by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti found that in more than half of the families, the children went at least one entire day in the prior week without eating at all; 44% primarily drink untreated water; 78% live without enclosed shelter.

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Britain's Budget Cuts - Will the Bell Toll For Us?

This week, the British government announced plans to cut its military personnel by 10 percent, scrap 40 percent of the army's artillery and tanks, and withdraw all of its troops from Germany within 10 years, the New York Times reports. The plan will involve a cut of about 8 percent in real terms in Britain's annual defense budget, significantly less than the 10 to 20 percent cuts that were under discussion. The Times attributes the reduced military cuts, in part, to US government pressure.

The reduced cuts in military spending are expected to lead to increased cuts in domestic spending:

 

The more modest scale of the military cutbacks placed extra strain on the government's overall effort to save more than $130 billion through spending cutbacks by 2015, a commitment that will require other government departments to make cutbacks averaging 25 percent. [my emphasis]

This what we have to look forward to with a Republican Congress: demands for budget cuts from which military spending is largely spared and which therefore will fall on domestic spending, like Social Security.