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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.

JFP 10/8: Obama - Afghan Taliban Not a Threat, Can Participate in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 8, 2009


Team Obama: Afghan Taliban Not a Threat to U.S.
At long last, the Obama Administration is acknowledging that the Afghan Taliban don't threaten the United States - the first step to rejecting General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops. Opposition inside the Administration to sending more troops is apparently being driven by Afghanistan scholar Barnett Rubin - someone who actually knows something about Afghanistan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/363

BBC World Have Your Say: How many troops are needed in Afghanistan?
Just Foreign Policy joins with Die Linke to make the case against military escalation, talks with the Taliban, and for a timetable for military withdrawal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys/
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20091007-1928a.mp3

Urge Congress to Support the Lee Bill
Representative Barbara Lee has introduced a bill [H.R. 3699] prohibiting any increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Urge your Member of Congress to support it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/lee

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

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U.S./Top News

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Team Obama: Afghan Taliban Not a Threat to U.S.

All hands on deck, Obama Nation. The ship of state is turning.

The New York Times reports:

President Obama's national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

This shift means that President Obama will not have to approve General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops:

the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

Finally, the Administration is going to distinguish between the Afghan Taliban, an indigenous Afghan movement with Afghan goals, and Al Qaeda, a global movement with a global agenda of attacking the United States:

"Clearly, Al Qaeda is a threat not only to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda," one senior administration official said in an interview initiated by the White House on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the strategy review has not been finished. "We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability."

The official contrasted that with the Afghan Taliban, which the administration has begun to define as an indigenous group that aspires to reclaim territory and rule the country but does not express ambitions of attacking the United States. "When the two are aligned, it's mainly on the tactical front," the official said, noting that Al Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan.

The Taliban cannot be removed from Afghanistan, Team Obama says:

JFP News 10/7: JFP on the BBC Against Afghan Escalation

Just Foreign Policy News
October 7, 2009


BBC World Have Your Say: How many troops are needed in Afghanistan?
Just Foreign Policy joins with Die Linke to make the case against military escalation and for a timetable for military withdrawal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys/
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20091007-1928a.mp3

Urge Congress to Support the Lee Bill
Representative Barbara Lee has introduced a bill [H.R. 3699] prohibiting any increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Urge your Member of Congress to support it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/lee

Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?
Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy: in particular, the assumption that al Qaeda would have a "safe haven" in Afghanistan if the Taliban regain control of parts of the country. Two other assumptions that have driven U.S. policy also deserve White House review: the assumption that an al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan would significantly increase the terrorist threat to the United States, and the assumption that a Taliban military victory would necessarily follow a U.S. military withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/360

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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JFP News 10/6: Honduran Security Forces Accused of Abuse

Just Foreign Policy News
October 6, 2009


Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?
Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy: in particular, the assumption that al Qaeda would have a "safe haven" in Afghanistan if the Taliban regain control of parts of the country. Two other assumptions that have driven U.S. policy also deserve White House review: the assumption that an al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan would significantly increase the terrorist threat to the United States, and the assumption that a Taliban military victory would necessarily follow a U.S. military withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/360

Peace Action West: Online Vigil at the White House
Peace Action West is organizing an "online vigil" through Wednesday on the White House's Facebook page.
http://peaceactionwest.org/fb/action.html

Attend a Screening of Robert Greenwald's "Rethink Afghanistan"
Find a screening or host one.
http://rethinkafghanistan.com/screenings/

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

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U.S./Top News

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Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?

Some speculation in the press has suggested that the current White House deliberations on General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan might be largely a political tactic. One theory has suggested that President Obama is running the clock, delaying his decision so he won't have to cross Democrats in Congress while health care reform is hanging fire. Another suggests that the deliberation is for show, so that Democrats will believe that Obama didn't rush to judgment, only reluctantly accepting McChrystal's request after serious deliberation and evaluation.

But two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy.

On October 5, the Journal reported that President Obama had pressed military commanders over whether "the Taliban still has close ties to al Qaeda and whether the international terrorist group would continue to have a haven should the Taliban regain control of parts of the country."

On October 6, the Journal reported that "intelligence and military officials say they've severely constrained al Qaeda's ability to operate there and in Pakistan - and that's reshaping the debate over U.S. strategy in the region." Some officials, including aides to U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, have argued that "the Taliban wouldn't allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11."

JFP News 10/5: House Liberals Seek to Bar Troop Increase in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 5, 2009


Attend a Screening of Robert Greenwald's "Rethink Afghanistan"
Find a screening near you or host one yourself.
http://rethinkafghanistan.com/screenings/

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

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Nearly two dozen House liberals have signed onto a bill that would prohibit an increase of troops in Afghanistan, The Hill reports. Rep. Barbara Lee and 21 lawmakers introduced H.R. 3699 on Thursday.

2) National security adviser Jones rebuked Gen. McChrystal's public campaign for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," the Washington Post reports. McChrystal had criticized as "short-sighted" an alternative strategy put forward by Vice President Biden that would not involve sending more troops. Jones indicated that the Obama administration expects McChrystal and his military superiors to broaden the range of alternatives for how best to proceed in Afghanistan.

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Popular Resistance to the Coup in Honduras: an Interview with Bertha Caceres

This interview with Honduran human rights activist Bertha Caceres was conducted on September 4 by Beverly Bell, author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance and Program Coordinator of Other Worlds.

Bertha Caceres is a co-founder of COPINH, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations in Honduras. COPINH addresses human rights issues such as the impunity of large land-owners and the forced eviction of campesinos; illegal de-forestation by corporations; and compensation for victims of human rights violations committed by the Honduran government.

Beverly Bell: Here we are in Havana with Bertha Caceras Flores in the Forum on Emancipatory Paradigms, speaking about the tactics and repression of those behind the coup d'etat.

JFP News, 9/25 - MoveOn: Exit Strategy, Not More Troops to Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
September 25, 2009


[The editor of the JFP News will be traveling and presenting next week; the JFP News will resume on October 5.]

MoveOn to Obama: Exit Strategy, Not More Troops to Afghanistan
MoveOn.org is asking MoveOn members to write to President Obama in opposition to demands for more U.S. troops to be sent to Afghanistan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/352

Tell President Obama: No More Troops for Afghanistan
Some of Obama's advisers are urging him to reject General McChrystal's request for more troops. With Obama publicly deliberating, now is the time to weigh in. Send President Obama a letter. Urge him to reject the request for more troops and turn U.S. policy away from military escalation and towards diplomacy and negotiation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/nomoretroops

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

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Americans are more likely to say they would oppose (50%) rather than favor (41%) a possible decision by President Obama to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll. By an overwhelming 82% to 14% margin, those opposed to a troop increase say they favor withdrawal over keeping the status quo. As many Americans overall favor withdrawing troops from the country (41%) as favor increasing troop levels (41%).

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MoveOn to Obama: Exit Strategy, Not More Troops to Afghanistan

The cavalry has arrived!

MoveOn.org is asking MoveOn members to write to President Obama in opposition to Pentagon/ McCain/Lieberman demands for more U.S. troops to be sent to Afghanistan, Greg Sargent reports.

MoveOn To Call On Obama To Develop Exit Strategy For Afghanistan

In its first direct pressure on President Obama over a major war-and-peace issue, MoveOn will call on the president today to develop an exit strategy for Afghanistan, a MoveOn official confirms to me.

MoveOn will blast an email to its massive list later today calling for members to write to the White House and demand "a clear exit strategy," the official confirms.

Indeed, MoveOn has already sent the email to some of its members. (If you are a MoveOn member and didn't see the email, don't panic - MoveOn typically starts its engagement by sending an email to part of its massive list.)

Sargent publishes the email here.

Pro-war advocates both inside and outside the administration - including John McCain and Joe Lieberman - are calling for a big escalation. The general in charge of Afghanistan is expected to request tens of thousands more troops, and that may just be the beginning. They're cranking up the pressure for an immediate surge.

But other powerful voices are urging caution: Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have raised real concerns about the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan without a clear strategy, as have Democrats in Congress. And a majority of Americans oppose increasing troop levels.