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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 26 December 2012 - 2:07pm
Diplomacy advocate and war skeptic Chuck Hagel is reported to be President Obama's first choice for Secretary of Defense. Hagel would work to end the war in Afghanistan, avoid war with Iran, and cut the Pentagon budget. Right-wing neocons are organizing a smear campaign to try to scuttle the nomination. Urge your Senators to speak up for Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense.
There is a petition at MoveOn here:
Back Obama in Tapping Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense
You can find phone numbers for your Senators here. If you can't get through to your Senator's DC office, try a local office in your state. All those numbers are given here:
A suggested message is:
"I urge you to publicly support Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense, and to speak out against the right-wing attacks on Senator Hagel."
You can report your calls to MoveOn here:
Thanks for taking action! We've never been this close to having someone like Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense! Let's keep up the pressure!
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 24 December 2012 - 2:48pm
We're running a petition at MoveOn in support of President Obama's choice of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
Guess who signed?
|#2426||Robert Bergdahl||Dec 23, 2012||Hailey, ID|
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 20 December 2012 - 1:05pm
The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to "Swift Boat" the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense by making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel—a former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, long-respected moderate and thoughtful voice on foreign policy, and decorated Vietnam combat veteran—is "anti-Israel."
The real reason the neocons hate Hagel is that he's a war-skeptic and a diplomacy advocate. As a Senator, he voted for the Iraq war. But then he became an early and harsh critic of the war and called for it to end. Hagel was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran, and has also backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Hagel has described the Pentagon as "bloated" and has said "the Pentagon needs to be pared down."
We deserve a war-skeptic and diplomacy advocate as Defense Secretary. Americans voted against the foreign policy of the neocons in 2008 and 2012. But the neocons are still using their insider influence and slander tactics to try to dominate policy.
We cannot stand idly by as the neocons stage a coup of our foreign policy. All of us opposed to these tactics, including the President's support base of liberal Democrats, must make our voices heard. That's why we've set up a petition on MoveOn's community petition site, SignOn, against the Swift Boat campaign on Chuck Hagel. Will you help us move this petition forward, so more MoveOn members will see it? You can sign and share the petition here:
Just Foreign Policy's Policy Director Robert Naiman explained what's at stake in this fight in his blog on Huffington Post. You can read and share that here:
J Street Pushes Back on Neocon Bid to "Swift Boat" Chuck Hagel Nomination as Defense Secretary
If the Pope Called for a Christmas Ceasefire in Afghanistan, Could "Ceasefire!" Enter Mainstream Debate?
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 14 December 2012 - 8:19pm
When the Israeli military sharply escalated its attacks on Gaza and threatened a ground invasion in late October, the demand for ceasefire entered mainstream public and media discourse in relation to the conflict immediately. The same thing happened when the Israeli military attacked Gaza in late 2008, as it did when the Israeli military invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, the demand for ceasefire has never been able to maintain a strong foothold in mainstream public and media discourse. This is particularly striking now that the war has clearly entered its zombie, autopilot phase. Western leaders have largely given up trying to explain or justify why Western troops are still in Afghanistan and why they are still killing and being killed. Why are we there? What do we realistically hope to accomplish through further killing and dying? Who knows? Who cares? We're there today because we were there yesterday. We'll be there tomorrow because we were there today.
Osama bin Laden is dead, but the war in Afghanistan is alive.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 14 December 2012 - 3:39pm
Since President Obama took office, the war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of over 1500 US troops, according to Just Foreign Policy's US Deaths in Afghanistan: Obama vs. Bush counter, which draws on data provided by iCasualties. By comparison, 575 US troops died during President Bush's two terms.
The rise in troop deaths during President Obama's presidency has not been altogether surprising given the administration's strategy in Afghanistan. In 2009, President Obama oversaw not one but two offensive surges, each of which added about 33,000 troops to the roughly 34,000 that were deployed in the country when he took office. By August 2010, more troops had died in Afghanistan under President Obama's command than during President Bush's seven years at the helm. By October 2011, that figure had doubled.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 December 2012 - 4:13pm
In early December 1914, Pope Benedict XV called for a "Christmas Truce" in the First World War. Leaders on all sides were forced to respond to the Pope's call. No formal truce was agreed, but across the trenches of the Western Front many soldiers on all sides observed the Christmas truce the Pope had called for.
Today the war in Afghanistan continues killing Americans and Afghans for no reason. If Pope Benedict XVI - the current Pope - called on Western leaders to announce an offensive ceasefire in Afghanistan for the Christmas holiday, Western leaders would have to respond. If we could stop the war for one day, it would set an important precedent, making it easier to achieve a lasting ceasefire and an end to the war.
Pope Benedict XVI has just inaugurated the use of a Twitter account. The Pope already has a million followers on Twitter, and the fact that he is now on Twitter is in the news. Sign and tweet our petition, and people around the world will see your appeal for the Pope to call for a Christmas ceasefire:
We're making our appeal for a ceasefire to the Pope because he is the most prominent and influential Western religious leader, and because of the historical precedent of his predecessor's call for a ceasefire in 1914. If Pope Benedict calls for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, other Western leaders will join his call, and Western governments with troops in Afghanistan will have to respond. Upon becoming Pope in 2005, he said: 
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.