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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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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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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.

JFP News 10/12: U.S. Brokers Iran Nuclear Deal

Just Foreign Policy News
October 12, 2009


Feingold Calls For Flexible Timetable to Draw Down Troops in Afghanistan
Senator Feingold urges an accounting of the cost of sending more troops; argues that more troops could be counterproductive by causing more people to join the insurgency and by destabilizing Pakistan; points out the folly of expending a disproportionate share of U.S. resources on war in Afghanistan, compared to other challenges.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o90aljNSLw

Obama Begins Meaningful Engagement With Iran
Many were alarmed by the Obama Administration's apparent "saber-rattling" around the revelation of Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Qom. But more significant than how vigorously the Administration was pounding the table was the fact that it was pounding the table in pursuit of realistic, achievable goals - like the introduction of inspectors at Qom, which Iran had in fact already agreed to - rather than the pie-in-the-sky goal of ending Iranian enrichment of uranium.
http://www.truthout.org/1008097

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JFP News 10/9: Obama Could Face Party Revolt On Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 9, 2009


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Nobel Committee, Strategic As Ever, Taps Obama for Peace Prize
Some initial commentary has called the award unprecedented and wondered why the committee would give President Obama the award when he "hasn't done anything yet." But anyone who thinks this award is unprecedented hasn't been paying attention. The Nobel Committee was being strategic, as it has been in the past: praising Obama's moves towards diplomacy as a way of strengthening those moves and beating back his right-wing critics.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/366

Obama Begins Meaningful Engagement With Iran
Many were alarmed by the Obama Administration's apparent "saber-rattling" around the revelation of Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Qom. But more significant than how vigorously the Administration was pounding the table was the fact that it was pounding the table in pursuit of realistic, achievable goals - like the introduction of inspectors at Qom, which Iran had in fact already agreed to - rather than the pie-in-the-sky goal of ending Iranian enrichment of uranium.
http://www.truthout.org/1008097

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Nobel Committee, Strategic As Ever, Taps Obama for Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama.

Some initial commentary has called the award unprecedented and wondered why the committee would give President Obama the award when he "hasn't done anything yet."

But anyone who thinks this award is unprecedented hasn't been paying attention.

The Nobel Committee gave South African Bishop Desmond Tutu the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his leadership of efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid wasn't fully abolished in South Africa until 1994. The committee could have waited until after apartheid was abolished to say, "Well done!" But the point of the award was to help bring down apartheid by strengthening Bishop Tutu's efforts. In particular, everyone knew that it was going to be much harder for the apartheid regime to crack down on Tutu after the Nobel Committee wrapped him in its protective cloak of world praise.

That's what the Nobel Committee is trying to do for Obama now. It's giving an award to encourage the change in world relations that Obama has promised, and to try to help shield Obama against his domestic adversaries. The committee is well aware that history is contingent and that Obama might fail. It knows very well that the same country that elected Obama also gave the world George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.