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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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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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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. HRW hasn't made any statement about Honduras since July 8.

One of the things Human Rights Watch should be investigating 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.

[UPDATE: Human Rights Watch put out a very strong statement today (8/25), highlighting the IACHR report, noting, among other things, the sexual assault allegations, and urging the U.S. to exert more pressure for the restoration of democracy. Kudos to Human Rights Watch.]

The Spanish news agency EFE reports:

The group Feministas de Honduras en Resistencia said Thursday that is has documented 19 instances of rape by police officers since the June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya. There have been many other cases of rape, but the women have not reported them out of fear of reprisals, Gilda Rivera, the executive coordinator of the Honduran Center for Women's Rights and head of Feministas, told Efe.

The activists say that women taking part in the resistance to the coup are being targeted. "We've obtained testimonials from women who've been sexually abused, beaten with cudgels on different parts of their bodies, especially the breasts and buttocks," adds the report presented Thursday at a press conference in Tegucigalpa.

JFP News 8/21: Lat Am Scholars Urge Human Rights Watch to Speak up on Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
August 21, 2009


LatAm Scholars Urge Human Rights Watch to Speak Up on Honduras Coup
On Friday nearly 100 Latin America scholars and experts sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch urging HRW to speak up about human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime and to conduct its own investigation of these abuses. The letters' signers include Honduras experts Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, Latin America experts Eric Hershberg, John Womack, and Greg Grandin, and noted authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. The experts note that if Human Rights Watch took action to shine its spotlight on these abuses, it would be more likely that the Obama Administration would put greater pressure on the coup regime to end these abuses and restore democracy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/302

Demand, from the Senate, an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
The Afghan people are tired of war. Recent polls show Americans agree. But our leaders are not yet tired of war in Afghanistan. The Senate has not yet even debated whether the Pentagon should publish an exit strategy. Urge them to do so.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan
Background: By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?
Why we need a Senate debate.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/300

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
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Latin America Scholars Urge Human Rights Watch to Speak Up on Honduras Coup

On Friday nearly 100 Latin America scholars and experts sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch urging HRW to speak up about human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime and to conduct its own investigation of these abuses. The letters' signers include Honduras experts Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, Latin America experts Eric Hershberg, John Womack, and Greg Grandin, and noted authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.

The Latin America experts note that if Human Rights Watch took action to shine its spotlight on these abuses, it would be more likely that the Obama Administration would put greater pressure on the coup regime to end these abuses and restore democracy. Such pressure would likely be decisive. The experts argue that "the coup could easily be overturned," if the Obama administration took more decisive measures, "such as canceling all U.S. visas and freezing U.S. bank accounts of leaders of the coup regime" - as Rep. Grijalva and 15 other Members of Congress called for on August 11. A recent New York Times editorial urged the Obama Administration to exert more pressure on the coup regime if it refuses to accept a compromise for President Zelaya's return.

Human Rights Watch has not issued a statement or release on the situation in Honduras since July 8, a little over a week after the coup.

JFP News, 8/20: Low Turnout in Afghan Election

Just Foreign Policy News
August 20, 2009


Demand, from the Senate, an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
The Afghan people are tired of war. Recent polls show Americans agree. But our leaders are not yet tired of war in Afghanistan. The Senate has not yet even debated whether the Pentagon should publish an exit strategy. Urge them to do so.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan
Background: By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?
Why we need a Senate debate.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/300

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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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) A top Afghan election official said he thinks 40 to 50 percent of the country's 15 million registered voters cast ballots in Afghanistan's presidential election - a turnout that would be far lower than the 70 percent who cast ballots for president in 2004, AP reports.

2) Iran has lifted a yearlong ban and allowed U.N. inspectors to visit the nearly completed Arak nuclear reactor as well as granting greater monitoring rights at the Natanz uranium enrichment site, George Jahn reports for AP. The IAEA had been seeking additional cameras and inspections of the Natanz site, to keep track with the rapidly expanding enrichment program.

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By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?

Recently I watched the 2007 Lebanese film "Under the Bombs." The movie tells the story of the U.S.-supported Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, wrapping the historical events inside a fictional narrative. Watching the movie reminded me of Just Foreign Policy's efforts with Jewish Voice for Peace and others to stop that war.

At the time, it seemed clear that the war could not go on indefinitely; the international community would not allow it. But how long would it be allowed to go on? If we could shorten it by one day, innocent civilians would live and not die. The 34-day conflict resulted in 1,191 deaths, the UN Human Rights Council reported. Using this figure, on average, each day of the war killed 35 more people; each day we shortened it saved 35 lives.

Today Afghanistan is holding the first round of its presidential election. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear from the campaign: the majority of Afghans are sick and tired of war. "There is broad agreement the war must end," reports Carlotta Gall in the New York Times. There is broad support in Afghanistan for negotiations with insurgents to end the war. The debate inside Afghanistan is on what process negotiations should follow, and whether the Afghan government is really following through on its stated commitment to negotiations.

JFP News 8/19: Amnesty International: Honduras Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence

Just Foreign Policy News
August 19, 2009


Amnesty International: Honduras Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence
There has been very little attention in the U.S. press to repression in Honduras under the coup regime. Hopefully, that will now change: Amnesty International issued a report today documenting "serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters" in Honduras, warning that "beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition" to the coup.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/298

Urge the Miami Herald and McClatchy to Report on Amnesty's Charges
No word yet from the Miami Herald or McClatchy on the Amnesty International report, although it has been reported by CNN, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and AP. Send the Herald and McClatchy a note.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/herald

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Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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