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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 10 December 2012 - 6:48pm
If more Americans could get unplugged from the myths which have been used historically to engineer public acquiescence in U.S. foreign policy, how much could that help us reform U.S. foreign policy in the future?
Oliver Stone's 10 part documentary series on the history of U.S. foreign policy is currently running on Mondays on Showtime. Stone documents that the U.S. has not been noticeably more altruistic than other countries which have tried to exert global power: it's a fairy tale that "other countries have interests but we only have values."
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 6 December 2012 - 1:03pm
The people of Haiti are fighting a deadly cholera epidemic introduced by UN troops that has killed thousands and sickened hundreds of thousands more.  Since the UN accidentally caused this catastrophe, it has a special responsibility to help Haitians stamp out killer cholera for good. Press reports have suggested that announcement of a UN plan is possible very soon.
Let's press the UN to make sure it announces decisive action and to build momentum and public attention to make sure the UN and major donor governments follow through on their commitments. We're partnering with Avaaz, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, and other organizations to build momentum for decisive action. You can sign our petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon here:
Since it began in October 2010, Haiti’s cholera epidemic has killed over 7,700 and brought untold suffering to poor communities. Although doctors, scientists, and even UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton recognize that UN troops brought the epidemic to Haiti, the UN has refused to take responsibility.
According to recent news reports , key players – including the Haitian government, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan-American Health Organization and UNICEF – may soon announce a plan to respond to cholera with medical treatment and water and sanitation infrastructure. This would be an important step in the right direction, but it would be a tentative step, with only a tiny fraction of funding secured so far. At the current pace, thousands more Haitians will die before their communities receive clean water.
We have no time to lose. A spike in cholera cases has been reported after Hurricane Sandy. Together we can save lives and help Haitians finally rid the island of this killer, if we act now. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone you know.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 30 November 2012 - 3:12pm
Yesterday, an overwhelming majority (62-33) of US Senators—including every Senator who caucuses with the Democrats save two—voted in favor of a measure that calls upon President Obama to continue withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan at a steady pace, as he promised in his address to the nation in June 2011. The "sense of the Senate", which was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), also calls upon President Obama to end all regular US combat missions in Afghanistan no later than December 31, 2014, and to "take all possible steps" to end such operations earlier.
Why is this vote significant? At present, there is no timetable for removing the 68,000 US troops that remain in Afghanistan. President Obama does not plan to announce such a timetable until after his administration has decided how many troops to leave in Afghanistan post-2014. This decision is expected to happen within the next few weeks, which means that a decision on a drawdown timetable for 2013-2014 may also be imminent.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 26 November 2012 - 6:53pm
This is slightly adapted from a presentation given at a Congressional briefing on drone strike policy on November 16, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
I want to talk about what Congress could do about drone strikes in the next 1-2 years.
To begin with, some political context, as I see it.
First, I don't think anyone will argue with me if I say that for the last ten years Congress has done very little.
Second, I think it would be extremely helpful if Congress would do something. I think Congress doing something is intrinsically important in itself, in addition to whatever the thing is. The reason is that the media, the public and the Administration take cues from what Congress is talking about. If Congress isn't talking about something, then it's perceived as not very controversial. More people would contact Congress if we had a vehicle for them to contact Congress about.
Third, I don't think it's as hard for Congress to do things on this as some people seem to think. There's a kind of conventional wisdom that Congress can't do anything because no-one cares because no U.S. soldiers are being killed by the policy. I think this conventional wisdom is completely wrong. No U.S. soldiers are being killed in Honduras and yet a hundred Members of Congress are willing to sign letters about human rights in Honduras, and these letters get press and pressure the Administration. No U.S. soldiers are being killed in Bahrain but Members of Congress are willing to sign letters about human rights in Bahrain and these letters get press and pressure the Administration. Conversely, plenty of U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan before 2009 and Congress didn't do much about that. So whether or not American soldiers are being killed is not as decisive as some people seem to think.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 21 November 2012 - 3:06pm
Hamas and Israel have reportedly agreed to terms for a ceasefire, which should be taking effect right about now. This is a welcome development.
But just because a ceasefire has been agreed upon doesn't mean that we can or should forget the United States's hypocritical response to the violence, which was on display as late as this morning when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on a bus bombing in Tel Aviv said by some to be perpetrated by Hamas.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 20 November 2012 - 6:36pm
Didn't they learn anything last time?
In 2008, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, claiming they were going to destroy Hamas. They didn't destroy Hamas - politically, they made it stronger - but they did kill a thousand Palestinian civilians and destroy a lot of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, some of which was never fully rebuilt due to the Israel-Egypt-US blockade of Gaza.
Now Israel is attacking Gaza again. The stated reason is rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Of course, that's not the complete story.  But more violence from Israel into Gaza isn't going to end rocket fire from Gaza. It hasn't in the past and won't in the future. The violence can only end with a political agreement to stop all violence across the Israel-Gaza border. The first step is an immediate cease-fire. This should lead to a political agreement that guarantees a permanent end to armed attacks across the border from both sides and permanently ends the siege of Gaza's economy and people.
Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to work towards an immediate ceasefire and a political agreement that permanently ends the violence and ends the blockade. You can use the following link:
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy
Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy.
1. See, e.g.,
“Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?” Robert Wright, The Atlantic, November 16, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/who-started-the-israel-gaza-conflict/265374/
US Should Condemn Israeli Assault On Gaza And Call For Immediate Cease-Fire (But Of Course, It Hasn't)
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 15 November 2012 - 2:17pm
For the last few days, Gaza has been under assault by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The US press is reporting the Israeli attack to be in response to rocket fire coming from the Gaza strip, although the sequence of events isn't quite that simple. So far, 15 Palestinians have been killed, eight of which have been reported to be civilians, including a pregnant woman, a 10-month old son of a BBC worker, and three infants. A rocket launched from Gaza after the Israeli assault began is said to have killed three Israeli civilians.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 13 November 2012 - 12:42pm
On Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the Obama administration would come to a decision within the next few weeks about the magnitude of the US "enduring presence" in Afghanistan. Panetta said that the White House was currently reviewing several recommendations for troop levels from General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. These options take into account the different roles US troops would play in Afghanistan after 2014. According to the New York Times,
The number, Mr. Panetta said, will be based on how many forces are needed for counterterrorism — that is, in commando raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden — as well as for training and providing air transport and other support to the Afghan security forces.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 9 November 2012 - 1:21pm
Yesterday, US media began reporting that Iranian fighter jets had shot at—but did not hit— an unarmed US drone off the coast of Iran last week. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little claimed that the unmanned military plane was over international waters 16 nautical miles off the coast of Iran, and that the drone had never been in Iranian airspace. In response, the US protested the shooting and warned Iran that it has "a wide range of options, from diplomatic to military," available to protect its assets. According to a CNN report, the incident has "raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes."
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 8 November 2012 - 3:10pm
At the polls Tuesday, I had the opportunity to cast a vote on one of the most important issues facing the country today. No, I'm not talking about the presidential race. I'm talking about an issue the two presidential candidates only superficially addressed during this long campaign season: the US military budget. Voters in 91 Massachusetts towns and in New Haven, CT, were asked whether Congress should redirect funds from the military budget to human needs. And we New Englanders overwhelmingly voted "Hell Yeah!"
The ballot referendum in Massachusetts was organized by the Budget for All Massachusetts Coalition, which is reporting preliminary results that 556,000 Massachusetts voters (or 74%) answered "yes", while only 190,930 (26%) said "no". In New Haven, the margin was even wider. The New Haven Register reports that 23,398 city residents (or 85%) voted “yes,” while only 15% of voters (4,152 residents) voted “no.” The New Haven ballot referendum was organized by the Greater New Haven Peace Council, City of New Haven Peace Commission, and Promoting Enduring Peace.
Both of the ballot questions asked voters whether Congress should reduce military spending and increase and protect spending on human needs, such as Social Security and Medicare. Although the referendums are non-binding, they send a strong signal to Massachusetts and Connecticut representatives that reducing the military budget must be made a priority in the next Congress, and that efforts to save Pentagon spending from the cutting board by offering up cuts to necessary domestic programs will not be tolerated.