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US: We're Through Palling Around With Iranian Terrorists

As you may have noticed in 2007 - timetable for Iraq withdrawal, anyone? - in our system of government as it is presently constituted, the executive branch has a tiny modicum of autonomy from the legislative branch, particularly with respect to foreign policy.


On Wednesday - burying the news in the post-election media frenzy - the State Department gave us a little taste of what the executive branch can do without waiting for Congress to say, "Simon Says." At long last, the State Department formally designated the Iranian terrorist organization Jundallah as a "foreign terrorist organization."

CNN reports:

 

The United States has officially designated Iranian extremist group Jundallah as a foreign terrorist organization, the State Department said Wednesday.

Jundallah, also known as the People's Resistance Movement of Iran, operates primarily in the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Pakistan.

The State Department said Jundallah "has engaged in numerous attacks resulting in the death and maiming of scores of Iranian civilians and government officials. Jundallah uses a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations."

Most recently, the Sunni group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in July at the Zahedan Grand Mosque. The attacks targeting Shiite worshipers killed 27 people. Iranian leaders said the United States was behind the attacks.

[...]

JFP 11/3: McCain: Election Result Means Afghan Withdrawal Should Be Delayed

Just Foreign Policy News
November 3, 2010

A Progressive Primary to Push for Jobs and End the Wars
Historical trends suggest that the main story of the election was the failure to restore economic growth, accounting for the loss of 40 Democratic seats alone. Current economic trends suggest 2012 is unlikely to be different, in the absence of decisive federal action. A dramatic political intervention is needed to change the national debate. A 2012 progressive presidential primary could be such an intervention, keeping the need for federal action to boost employment at the center of debate. If organized correctly, a primary would build progressive power rather than be divisive, would register and educate voters, would encourage and boost progressive candidates for Congress, and would strengthen the base of organizations that do progressive electoral work. It would also be a powerful counterweight to Washington voices who want to extend the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to cut Social Security benefits.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/a-progressive-primary-to_b_778447.html

The Best Government Money Can Buy
A recent film by Francis Megahy sounds the alarm about corporate control of Washington through the current system of campaign finance and lobbying by the suppliers of campaign finance, as well as the bind that reform of the system ultimately has to be enacted by incumbents that have been produced by the current system, and the need for outside agitation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/bestgovernment

South of the Border on DVD

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A Progressive Primary to Push for Jobs and End the Wars

It's bad enough that we lost progressive champions like Russ Feingold, and that the leadership and committees of the House will be taken over by advocates of domestic austerity and endless war. In addition, the airwaves and print media will now be filled with pundits saying that the lesson of the election is that Obama must move to the right and cut the budget, except the military. But the worst thing we must now face is that the 2010 election is likely a preview of 2012, unless at least one of two things happen: decisive federal action to boost economic growth and employment, now much more difficult to achieve than before, and some dramatic new element is introduced into our national politics that changes the character of national debate.


Jonathan Chait pointed out last week that based on the state of the economy, historical trends predicted a Democratic loss of more than 40 seats, enough for Republicans to take the House. In other words, on average, based on historical trends, the fate of the election was sealed when the Obama Administration proposed and Congress enacted an economic stimulus package that was much too small to counter the fall in domestic demand resulting from the collapse of the housing bubble. Everything else that happened in the election has to be judged according to the baseline expectation of the Democrats losing at least 40 seats - enough to lose the House - due to the failure to restore economic growth and employment with a sufficient stimulus to counteract the fall in private economic demand.

JFP 11/1: JFP announces "Fox on 15th" campaign against Washington Post

Just Foreign Policy News
November 1, 2010

*Action - Human Rights First: Ask Obama to support election monitors for Egypt
Egypt will hold parliamentary elections on November 28. The Egyptian government is refusing to allow international election monitors into the country, cracking down on opposition voices, and muzzling the independent press. Ask President Obama to urge President Mubarak to accept international election monitors - something he said at the UN every member state should do.
http://bit.ly/bldTdi

Just Foreign Policy announces WaPo "Fox on 15th" campaign
In response to David Broder's op-ed in the Washington Post calling for President Obama to orchestrate a war fever against Iran as a way of stimulating the US economy, (see Dean Baker, #1 below) Just Foreign Policy announces its "Fox on 15th" Campaign.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/749

South of the Border on DVD
Oliver Stone's documentary South of the Border was released on DVD this week. Why is the center-left cruising to victory in Brazil? You can get the DVD here.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/southoftheborder

Help Support Our Work
Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to advocate for a just foreign policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

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Just Foreign Policy Announces "Fox on 15th" Campaign Against the Washington Post

In response to David Broder's op-ed in the Washington Post calling for
President Obama to orchestrate a war fever against Iran as a way of
stimulating the US economy, Just Foreign Policy formally announces its
"Fox on 15th" Campaign.

The purpose of the campaign is to delegitimize the Washington Post by
constantly reminding people how on a range of issues, from war to
torture to Social Security, the Washington Post, editorially, is
politically indistinguishable from Fox News.

How to participate: if you have a blog, anytime you take the
Washington Post to task for a pro-war editorial or op-ed, give it the
tag, "foxon15th," in addition to any other tags.

And when you post such a blog to twitter, or comment on such an
editorial or op-ed on twitter, use the hashtag #foxon15th, in addition
to any other hashtags.

Dean Baker on Broder's call for Iran war to boost economy

Dean Baker responds to Washington Post columnist David Broder's op-ed calling for a drive towards military confrontation with Iran as a way to boost the economy:

David Broder Calls for War With Iran to Boost the Economy

JFP 10/29: US v. Brazil: A Tale of Two Elections

Just Foreign Policy News
October 29, 2010

US v. Brazil: A Tale of Two Elections
Lula "brought home the bacon" for the Workers Party base.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/us-v-brazil-lula-brought_b_776120.html

Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?
According to the US government's assessments, US military escalation has failed. Yet no change is expected from the December policy review. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is killing low-level fighters and commanders who are being replaced by younger militants less inclined to compromise or follow the Taliban leadership, making a peace agreement more difficult to attain. Is the Pentagon deliberately making peace more difficult to achieve in Afghanistan, so it won't have to accept a timetable for US withdrawal?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/is-the-pentagon-deliberat_b_775353.html

Video: Anthropologist Scott Atran tells MSNBC US should work with the Taliban

Scott Atran, promoting his book, "Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists," says the US should work with the Taliban.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/taliban-us-afghanistan_n_774677.html

Graphic: Cost of the Afghanistan War
A new graphic compares the cost to previous wars - and to domestic needs that could have been funded instead.
http://www.onlineschooling.net/afghanistan-war-cost

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US vs. Brazil: A Tale of Two Elections

Next week the Western Hemisphere will see a tale of two elections: two elections that have a number of key features in common, and some key points of divergence. In common: the incumbent center-left faces a challenge from the Right. The head of state, the incumbent leader of the center-left, will not be on the ballot, but the election is widely viewed as a referendum on his policies.


Election Day is "the poll that matters," but the key divergence is that on Sunday in Brazil, the center-left is forecast to coast to victory, while on Tuesday in the U.S., the Right is widely forecast to make big gains, with better than even odds of taking the House.

What explains this divergence?

There are many factors, of course, but there is one key cause: in Brazil, Lula brought home the bacon, in economic indicators of the quality of life, for the Workers Party's electoral base: working people. Measured unemployment in Brazil is now at a record low of 6.2 percent.

When the majority of voters in Brazil ask themselves, "are we better off now than we were before the Workers Party came to power," this is the reality that they reflect on: the Brazilian economy has performed much better for working people during the Lula years than during the eight years of opposition candidate Jose Serra's party. Per capita income grew by 23 percent from 2002-2010, as opposed to just 3.5 percent for 1994-2002. The minimum wage, in real terms, grew by 65 percent during Lula's presidency. This is more than three time the increase during the prior eight years.

In Brazil, as in the U.S., a significant rise in the real value of the minimum wage lifts not just the workers who are at the very bottom of the wage distribution, but the much larger group of workers whose wages are near the bottom.

JFP 10/28: Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?

Just Foreign Policy News
October 28, 2010

Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?
The Washington Post reports that according to the US government's own assessments, US military escalation has failed. Yet the same report says no fundamental change is expected from the December policy review. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is killing low-level fighters and commanders who are being replaced by younger militants less inclined to compromise or follow the Taliban leadership, thereby making a peace agreement more difficult to attain. Is the Pentagon deliberately making peace more difficult to achieve in Afghanistan, so it won't have to accept a timetable for US military withdrawal?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/is-the-pentagon-deliberat_b_775353.html

Video: Author Scott Atran tells MSNBC US should work with the Taliban

Scott Atran, promoting his new book, "Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists," said on "Morning Joe" that the US should work with the Taliban.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/taliban-us-afghanistan_n_774677.html
See also:
Talking to the Enemy: How to Turn the Taliban Against Al Qaeda
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-atran/post_1145_b_774484.html

South of the Border released on DVD

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Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?

On Wednesday, the Washington Post carried a remarkable article reporting that according to U.S. government assessments, the U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan has failed.

The Post's Greg Miller reported that

 

An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency

Miller explains why this is so:

 

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

"The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience," said a senior Defense Department official involved in assessments of the war. Taliban elements have consistently shown an ability to "reestablish and rejuvenate," often within days of routed by U.S. forces, the official said, adding that if there is a sign that momentum has shifted, "I don't see it."

So, since the policy of military escalation has failed, according to the U.S. government's own assessments, we should expect that in December, when President Obama promised that the policy will be reviewed, we should see a fundamental change in policy. Right?

But, according to the same Washington Post report, "no major change in strategy is expected in December."

How could it be, that the policy has failed, according to official U.S. government assessments, and yet no change is expected when the promised review occurs?