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JFP News, 8/31: Feingold - The Road Home from Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
August 31, 2009


Senator Kennedy's Most Important Vote
As Senator Kennedy has been eulogized in recent days, few have noted what Senator Kennedy himself said was his most important vote in all his years in the Senate: his vote against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Dean Baker notes that when the political and media establishments were in war fever, Senator Kennedy looked at the evidence, and found it wanting. Next month Congress will consider plans to "double down" the war in Afghanistan. Which Senators will emulate Senator Kennedy's "most important vote"?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/314

State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras Coup Regime
State Department staff have recommended that Secretary Clinton recognize the existence of a "military coup" in Honduras, which would cut off all non-humanitarian U.S. aid, as required by U.S. law. Call the Secretary Clinton at 202-647-5171 during business hours. Deliver this message: "Designate the regime in Honduras as a military coup and cut off all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras until President Zelaya is reinstated." If you don't get through right away, please try again later.
Background:
State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/312

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U.S./Top News

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Senator Kennedy's Most Important Vote

As Senator Ted Kennedy has been eulogized in recent days, almost all of the discussion of his "legacy" has focused on domestic issues. Only a few have noted what Senator Kennedy himself said was the most important vote he ever cast in the U.S. Senate: his vote against the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Economist Dean Baker, asked by the Beltway newspaper The Hill to comment on "the most significant aspect of Senator Kennedy's legacy," wrote:

I'll just agree with Senator Kennedy on this one. He said that his vote against the Iraq War was the most important vote that he cast the whole time he was in the Senate.

At a time when most of the political establishment, and certainly most of the media establishment, was cowed by an administration yelling about the threat of terrorism, Senator Kennedy stood back and looked at the evidence in a serious manner.
[...]
This was a display of courage and sound judgment at a time when these character traits were virtually absent from the halls of power in official Washington.

Democratic politicians are often praised by establishment pundits for showing "leadership" if they stand on the side of powerful against the interests of those they were elected to represent. But most people would see Senator Kennedy's vote against the war as a better example of "leadership": standing up for the people you were elected to represent, in the face of significant pressure to do otherwise. It's not surprising that the same media institutions which failed to challenge the Bush Administration's "faith-based" case for the war in Iraq would pass over this opportunity to remind everyone that they failed to show the same leadership as Senator Kennedy did when the nation needed it most.

JFP News 8/28: Why are we bombing clinics?

Just Foreign Policy News
August 28, 2009


State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras Coup Regime
State Department staff have recommended that Secretary Clinton formally designate the events in Honduras a "military coup," which would cut off all non-humanitarian U.S. aid, as required by U.S. law. Urge Secretary Clinton to follow the State Department recommendation. Call the State Department at 202-647-5171 during business hours. Deliver the following message: "Secretary Clinton, please follow the recommendation of the State Department. Legally define the de facto regime in Honduras as a military coup and cut off all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras until President Zelaya is reinstated." If you don't get through right away, try again later.
Background:
State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/312

Do Americans Know Senator Feingold Has Called for a Timetable for Withdrawal from Afghanistan?
Spread the news with our 4 minute video.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan

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U.S./Top News

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State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras

After two months, the State Department is poised to formally declare what was obvious to most of the world: on June 28, Honduras experienced a military coup.

State Department staff have recommended to Secretary of State Clinton that the ouster of Honduran President Zelaya be formally declared a "military coup," which could cut off as much as $150 million in U.S. funding, Reuters reports.

The semi-official story has been that State Department lawyers were studying the events in Honduras to see if they met the "technical definition" of a "military coup." But all along the State Department made clear that it was purposely delaying its formal determination to give "diplomacy" - the talks in Costa Rica between representatives of President Zelaya and representatives of the coup regime - a chance to work.

It was never explained why making this determination - which, under U.S. law, requires a cutoff of aid to the coup government - would have interfered with "diplomacy." On the contrary: it was immediately obvious that the obstacle to a negotiated solution was the intransigence of the coup regime, which refused to accept a compromise proposal that would allow President Zelaya to return. So, as many Latin American governments argued - including the Costa Rican government - if the U.S. wanted a negotiated solution, it needed to ramp up pressure on the coup regime.

But the State Department is now, at last, conceding that its previous efforts were insufficient. Better late than never - much better.

No doubt Republicans in Congress who have supported the coup regime in Honduras will now complain loudly when Secretary Clinton makes her formal determination - assuming that she follows the recommendation of her staff.

In anticipation of right-wing Republican complaints, it is important to note two key facts.

JFP News 8/27: State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
August 27, 2009

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JFP News 8/26: Out of Afghanistan? Feingold Leads the Way

Just Foreign Policy News
August 26, 2009


Out of Afghanistan? Feingold Leads the Way
Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has broken a Washington taboo: he called for a "timetable" for withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. Just Foreign Policy's Megan Iorio has put together a video with highlights of Senator Feingold's recent remarks on Afghanistan. Watch and spread.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/309

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Obama is caught between two important constituencies on Afghanistan - the generals who want more troops, and the base of his own party, whose tolerance for a worsening conflict is quickly evaporating, the Washington Post reports. Sen. Russell Feingold, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called this week for the first time for Obama to set a "flexible timetable" to withdraw U.S. forces, saying he is "not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well-thought-out strategy."

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Out of Afghanistan? Feingold Leads the Way

On Monday, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin broke a Beltway taboo: he called for a public timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, in an interview with the Appleton, Wisconsin Post-Crescent. My colleague Megan Iorio has excerpted highlights from the interview relating to Afghanistan:

Already, Feingold's call for a timetable for withdrawal is shaping press coverage. The Washington Post reports today:

As the Obama administration prepares for a report from its senior field commander that is likely to request additional forces, congressional Democrats, in particular, have begun to question the wisdom of further reinforcements on top of the 62,000 U.S. troops already deployed in Afghanistan, with an additional 6,000 scheduled to arrive by year's end.
[…]
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called this week for the first time for Obama to set a "flexible timetable" to withdraw U.S. forces, saying he is "not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well-thought-out strategy."

JFP News 8/25: U.S. suspends visas to Honduras; Human Rights Watch urges U.S. pressure

Just Foreign Policy News
August 25, 2009


Feingold, Breaking Beltway Taboo, Calls for Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable
Yesterday, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin broke a Washington taboo. He called for a "timetable" for withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. Now we need to help Senator Feingold bring other Senators along.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/306

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The U.S. said Tuesday it was suspending most visa service in Honduras in a bid to put pressure on the nation's coup leaders to accept a plan to restore democracy, AFP reports. The State Department said it would stop granting visas Wednesday at its embassy in Honduras except to applicants seeking to immigrate to the U.S. or who have a personal emergency. The move came as a seven-nation mission visits Honduras to press the coup regime to accept the San Jose Accord that would reinstate President Zelaya. [With respect to visas, this is actually a broader sanction than Representative Grijalva and Just Foreign Policy advocated: we urged the State Department to cancel visas of coup leaders - JFP.]

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Feingold, Breaking Washington Taboo, Calls for Afghanistan Withdrawal Timetable

Yesterday, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin broke a Washington taboo. He called for a "timetable" for withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

ABC News reports:

"I think it is time we start discussing a flexible timetable so that people around the world can see when we are going to bring our troops out," said Feingold. "Showing the people there and here that we have a sense about when it is time to leave is one of the best things we can do," he added.

Feingold made the comments in an interview with the editorial board of the Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisconsin. Feingold also said:

I think (our presence) is increasing the extremism and increasing the resentment toward the United States.

The idea of an open-ended commitment with no vision of when it will end is a problem. I want a flexible timetable and a public vision of what we intend.

Senator Feingold's statements represent an important breakthrough. Though Feingold has been quite critical of the ongoing military escalation, this is, to my knowledge, the first time he, or any other U.S. Senator, has publicly uttered the word "timetable" in the context of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.

In June, Representative Jim McGovern's amendment requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy from Afghanistan was supported by a majority of House Democrats, including key members of the House leadership, like Rep. David Obey (Chair of Appropriations) and Rep. John Murtha (Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.)

But until now there has been no corresponding movement in the U.S. Senate.

JFP News 8/24: Coup Protestor Gang-Raped by Honduran Police

Just Foreign Policy News
August 24, 2009


Coup Protestor Gang-Raped by Honduran Police
On Friday, Latin America scholars sent an urgent letter to Human Rights Watch, urging HRW to speak out on violations of human rights under the coup regime in Honduras and to conduct its own investigation. One of the things Human Rights Watch should investigate is allegations by Honduran feminists and human rights groups that Honduran police are using rape and other sexual violence as weapons of intimidation against Hondurans nonviolently protesting the coup regime.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/304

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Sen. Feingold called on President Obama to announce a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, ABC News reports. "After eight years, I am not convinced that pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well thought out policy," said Feingold. "I think it is time we start discussing a flexible timetable so that people around the world can see when we are going to bring our troops out," said Feingold. "Showing the people there and here that we have a sense about when it is time to leave is one of the best things we can do," he added.

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