Stop the War on Christmas: Cease Fire in Afghanistan

Shouldn't Americans of every faith tradition band together to stop the war on Christmas? Let us call on President Obama to announce that on December 24th and 25th, the United States will observe an offensive cease-fire in Afghanistan, and urge others to join the cease-fire, as a goodwill gesture to promote peace talks.


Far from being utopian, I claim that this is a pragmatic political proposal, with little cost and significant potential benefits; indeed, according to recent press reports, a US-initiated Christmas truce would complement peace efforts that the Obama Administration is already pursuing.

The political cost would be negligible. Would Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John McCain denounce President Obama for announcing that US forces in Afghanistan will stand down to mark the birth of the Prince of Peace? If they did, would anyone take them seriously?

This is a decision that President Obama can make unilaterally as Commander-in-Chief. He does not need the permission of Lindsay Graham, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, or the Washington Post editorial board. If President Obama decides that US forces in Afghanistan will not take offensive military actions on Christmas, so shall it be.

Already, Reuters reports, the Obama Administration is contemplating confidence-building measures to promote peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, including transferring Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo to Afghan government custody and supporting the establishment by the Afghan Taliban of a political office in Qatar for the purpose of participating in peace talks.

Therefore, a Christmas truce would be totally consistent with measures that the Administration is already pursuing. However, it would have the advantage that a cease-fire wouldn't just be an olive branch to the Afghan Taliban; it would also be an olive branch to the Afghan people. In particular, an offensive cease-fire would mean a pause in US Special Forces night raids into Afghan homes, night raids that kill civilians and violate the most basic tenets of human decency, night raids which are the object of universal loathing in Afghanistan.

Consider what we just learned from the US military withdrawal in Iraq. According to the reporting of the New York Times and the Washington Post, the key reason that the Pentagon could not win permission to stay in Iraq was 1) the Pentagon killed too many Iraqi civilians and 2) no-one was held accountable for the killings.

Liz Sly reported in the Washington Post:

 

In the accounting of what was won and lost in America's Iraq war, [Haditha] will rank as a place where almost everything was lost.... in dueling [Iraqi and American] perceptions, over the killings in Haditha and others nationwide, lay the undoing of the U.S. military's hopes of maintaining a long-term presence here. When it came to deciding the future of American troops in Iraq, the irreconcilable difference that stood in the way of an agreement was a demand by Iraqi politicians for an end to the grant of immunity that has protected on-duty U.S. soldiers from Iraqi courts.

"The image of the American soldier is as a killer, not a defender. And how can you give a killer immunity?" said Sami al-Askari, a lawmaker who is also a close aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Michael Schmidt reported in the New York Times:

 

Charges were dropped against six of the accused Marines in the Haditha episode, one was acquitted and the last remaining case against one Marine is scheduled to go to trial next year.

That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.

The significance of these reports for the war in Afghanistan cannot be overemphasized. A key objective of the Pentagon in the invasion of Iraq was to establish a permanent military garrison in Iraq. But the Pentagon failed in this objective, because of the Pentagon's own failure to not kill Iraqi civilians, and the Pentagon's failure to take responsibility for killing Iraqi civilians.

Now the Pentagon is pursuing in Afghanistan the same objective that it was pursuing in Iraq: trying to establish a permanent military garrison. In the long run, the Pentagon is likely to face the same paradox in Afghanistan that it faced in Iraq: the Pentagon is intervening in a civil war, and it's the intervention in the civil war that creates the opportunity for the Pentagon to be in Afghanistan; meanwhile it is US policy to try to end the civil war, but as soon as the civil war ends, and the current government is replaced by a government that includes representation for all the people now fighting, it is extremely likely that that government will kick the Pentagon out, just as happened in Iraq. Meanwhile, the more civilians the Pentagon kills, injures and abuses as long as the war continues, the more certain it is that an Afghan government that ends the war will kick the Pentagon out.

Since this is the likely future, why dally? The sooner we can get the Pentagon kicked out of Afghanistan, the more American and Afghan lives will be saved, and the fewer tax dollars we'll have to waste on a doomed enterprise that isn't supported by the majority of Americans and isn't in the interests of the majority of Americans.

A Christmas cease-fire will be the camel's nose under the tent. It will introduce the concept of "ceasefire" into the center of discourse on Afghanistan, where it belongs. After 10 years of Rube Goldberg efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan by the acquisition of some other objective have failed, it is time to work towards peace directly, by silencing the guns.

There are precedents in Afghanistan for a cease-fire. The UN has successfully negotiated ceasefires to conduct vaccinations. There were cease-fires in the past for elections.

Some will object that Christmas is a Christian holiday and Afghanistan is a Muslim country, and what do the Afghan Taliban know from Christmas?

But we have to start somewhere, and the principal political obstacle to a cease-fire is the Pentagon, and the best way to intimidate the Pentagon from resisting a cease-fire is to announce one on Christmas. If we can get a cease-fire on Christmas, then a cease-fire on a Muslim holiday will surely be next.

The Christmas truce has a rich history, one that we should seek to revive. In December 1914, as war raged in Europe, Pope Benedict XV called for a Christmas ceasefire. The Pope's initiative was rebuffed by political leaders, but in one of the most compelling acts of mass civil disobedience in the 20th century, rank-and-file troops carried out the action that the Pope had called for, negotiating local Christmas cease-fires on the Western Front. Christmas 2014 will mark the hundred year anniversary of the Christmas truce of 1914. Maybe, if we get busy, by Christmas 2014, the guns in Afghanistan will be silenced for good.

 

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

 

'Da 9-11 Truth Campaign to end 64 years of Mass Murder & Squander for Fascist Gain by Shock & Shame.
December 20, 2011, Abuse News #4965 by John Jenkel, 800-500-7083, 9-11bountyhunter@att.net

Hay, we're doing it!

These "secret talks" should be headlines today!

Exclusive: Secret U.S., Taliban talks reach turning point

http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-secret-u-taliban-talks-reach-turning-point-013710323.html

By Missy Ryan, Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball | Reuters – December 19, 2011


• A U.S. soldier from Task Force "No Fear" Alpha Co 2-27 Infantry "The Wolfhounds" …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents, senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war. [Or, no member of 'da 112th Congress, except Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont, Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia (Byrdland), Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, Representative Ron Paul from Texas, and Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, will EVER get elected again!]

As part of the accelerating, ["Accelerating?" How about 'life saving?'] high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States [Congress] is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners [of an Hoover Institute-advised unconstitutional undeclared United States war and treasonous occupation of congressional choice, NOT necessity, against CIA-fabricated enemies in Afghanistan] from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.

It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism [such as Hoover Institute-advised unconstitutional undeclared United States wars and treasonous occupations of congressional choice for the benefit of 'da criminal profiteering domestic enemies of we the congressionally betrayed people at our unbearable expense] and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with ['da criminal profiteering domestic enemy-owned] government headed by Afghan [Unocal /CIA serving puppet] President Hamid Karzai.

The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate. ['Da Clinton/Enron/CIA created Taliban has no incentive to negotiate with invaders of their sanctuary.]

Still, the senior officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity to share new details of the mostly secret effort, suggested it has been a much larger piece of President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy than is publicly known. [Welcome to psycho warfare, dear reader].

U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings with their insurgent [against unconstitutional United States invasion] contacts, mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, the officials said. The stakes in the diplomatic effort could not be higher. [No kidding!].

Failure would likely condemn Afghanistan to continued conflict, perhaps even civil war, after NATO troops [including 1,857 elected dictator executed United States troops] finish turning security over to Karzai's weak [imperialist United States elected dictator puppet] government by the end of 2014.

Success would mean a political end to the war and the possibility that parts of the Taliban - some hardliners seem likely to reject the talks - could be reconciled.

The effort is now at a pivot point.
"We imagine that we're on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we've got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver" on mutual confidence-building measures, said a senior U.S. official. [We pay people to talk like that?]

While some U.S.-Taliban contacts have been previously reported, the extent of the underlying diplomacy and the possible prisoner transfer have not been made public until now.
There are slightly fewer that 20 Afghan citizens at Guantanamo, according to various accountings. It is not known which ones might be transferred, nor what assurances the White House has that the Karzai government would keep them in its custody. [Insurgents are now "Afghan citizens." That's progress!]

Guantanamo detainees have been released to foreign governments - and sometimes set free by them - before. But the transfer as part of a diplomatic negotiation appears unprecedented. [Right. Its "unprecedented" congressionally betrayed and impostor commanded American troops getting out of Afghanistan or 151 members of Congress face treason charges and death penalties!]

The reconciliation effort, which has already faced setbacks including a supposed Taliban envoy who turned out to be an imposter, faces hurdles on multiple fronts, the U.S. officials acknowledged. They include splits within the Taliban; suspicion from Karzai and his advisers; and Pakistan's insistence on playing a major, even dominating, role in Afghanistan's future.

Obama will likely face criticism, including from Republican presidential candidates, for dealing with an insurgent group [of "Afghan citizens" protecting their homeland] that has killed [our unconstitutionally and treasonously commanded invading] U.S. soldiers and advocates a strict Islamic form of government [jihad].

But U.S. officials say that the [Hoover Institute-advised unconstitutional undeclared United States] Afghan war [of congressional choice, NEVER necessity, against CIA-fabricated enemies for the benefit of 'da criminal profiteering domestic enemies of we the congressionally betrayed people], like others before it, will ultimately end in a negotiated settlement. "The challenges are enormous," a second senior U.S. official acknowledged. "But if you're where we are ... you can't not try. You have to find out what's out there."

NEXT STEPS?

Ten years after the repressive [Enron/Clinton/CIA-created] Taliban government was toppled, ["Toppled" is a Unocal /Obama/CIA-created false statement.] a hoped-for political resolution has become central to U.S. strategy to end a war that has [fraudulently executed 1,857 American troops and] killed nearly 3,000 foreign troops [?] and cost the Pentagon alone $330 billion. ["Cost the Pentagon?" It did not "cost the Pentagon" one dime. It cost we the congressionally betrayed and growing angrier people over $486 billion in blood debt!]

While Obama's [treasonous] decision to deploy an extra 30,000 troops in 2009-10 helped push the Taliban out of much of its southern heartland, the war is far from over. Militants remain able to slip in and out of lawless areas of Pakistan, where the Taliban's senior leadership is located. Bold attacks from the [other protectors of their homeland in the] Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network have undermined the narrative of improving security and raised questions about how well an [Bush/Congress/Obama/CIA-generated] inexperienced Afghan military will be able to cope when foreign troops [invaders] go home. [Afghanistan did not have an army before impostor commander in chief/9-11 attempted wife killer George warmonger Bush ordered 'da invasion of Afghanistan based on lies about 'da Enron-sponsored al Qaeda Martyrdom Battalion organized crimes on 9-11.]

In that uncertain context, officials say that initial contacts with insurgent representatives since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly embraced a diplomatic strategy in a February 18, 2011, speech have centered on establishing whether the Taliban was open to reconciliation, despite its pledge to continue its 'sacred jihad' against NATO and U.S. soldiers.
"The question has been to the Taliban, 'You have got a choice to make. Life's moving on," the second U.S. official said. "There's a substantial military campaign out there that will continue [Bull Shit! We the congressionally betrayed people cannot afford it!] to do you substantial damage ... Are you prepared to go forward with some kind of reconciliation process?" [Jihadists risk their live to kill invaders of their sacred homeland. That is a concept that few Americans understand. The choice is Obama's, not jihadists. Any invaders left behind will get stoned!]

U.S. officials have met with Tayeb Agha, who was a secretary to Mullah Omar, and they have held one meeting arranged by Pakistan with Ibrahim Haqqani, a brother of the Haqqani network's founder. They have not shut the door to further meetings with the Haqqani group, which is blamed for a brazen attack this fall on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and which U.S. officials link closely to Pakistan's intelligence agency. U.S. officials say they have kept Karzai informed of the process and have met with him before and after each encounter, but they declined to confirm whether representatives of his government are present at those meetings. [Uh-huh. Chinese fire drill!]

EVOLVING TALIBAN POSITION?
Officials now see themselves on the verge of reaching a second phase in the peace process that, if successful, would clinch the confidence-building measures and allow them to move to a third stage in which the Afghan government and the Taliban would sit down in talks facilitated by the United States. "That's why it's especially delicate -- because if we don't deliver the second phase, we don't get to the pay-dirt," the first senior U.S. official said. [Pay-dirt! We the people don't want such a clown facilitating for us!]

Senior administration officials say that confidence-building measures must be implemented, not merely agreed to, before full-fledged political talks can begin. The sequence of such measures has not been determined, and they will ultimately be announced by Afghans, they say. [There is only one measure that Afghans have announced they determined, and have demonstrated with suicide bombers, land mines, and whatever weapons they have, and that is United States armed forces out.]

Underlying the efforts of U.S. negotiators are fundamental questions about whether - and why - the Taliban would want to strike a deal with the Western-backed Karzai government.
U.S. officials stress that the 'end conditions' they want the Taliban to embrace - renouncing violence, breaking with al Qaeda, and respecting the Afghan constitution - are not preconditions to starting talks. [What the hell? 'Da 107th Congress authorized the violence as our elected dictator president "determines to be necessary" in Public Law 107-243! The "insurgents" are reactions to United States imperialism.]

Encouraging trends on the Afghan battlefield - declining militant attacks and a thinning of the Taliban's mid-level leadership - are one reason why U.S. officials believe the Taliban may be more likely now to engage in substantive talks. [The only reason why Enron, ISI, Clinton and 'da CIA created the Taliban was to aid Enron builder Ken Lay in securing a pipe line route through the sacred Hindu Kush Mountains to deliver Turkmenistan natural gas to clean energy-starved communist China to manufacture more Macy's merchandise and Walmart watches with slave labor.] They also cite what they see as an overlooked, subtle shift in the Taliban's position, based in part on statements this year from Mullah Omar that, despite fiery rhetoric, indicate some openness to talks. They also condemn civilian deaths and advocate development of Afghanistan's economy.

In July, the Taliban reiterated its long-standing position of rejecting talks as long as foreign troops remain. [That is jihadism and there is NO exception to their beliefs.] In October, a senior Haqqani commander said the United States was insincere about peace.

But U.S. officials say the Taliban no longer wants to be the global pariah it was in the 1990s. ["Global pariah?" That's 'da pot calling 'da kettle black! "Shamed Enron bosses gave millions to bin Laden & Taliban" to cut a deal on an oil pipeline, as reported by Devlin Barratt of the Associated Press, Exhibit A.] Some elements have suggested flexibility on issues of priority for the West, such as protecting rights for women and girls. "That's one of the reasons why we think this is serious," a third senior U.S. official said.

RISKY STRATEGY

Yet as it moves ahead the peace initiative is fraught with challenge. At least one purported insurgent representative has turned out to be a fraud, highlighting the difficulty of vetting potential brokers in the shadowy world of the militants. [and Congress!]

And it as dealt a major blow in September when former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed Karzai's peace efforts, was assassinated in an attack Afghanistan said originated in neighboring Pakistan.

Since then, Karzai has been more ambivalent, ruling out an early resumption in talks. He said Afghanistan would talk only to Pakistan 'until we have an address for the Taliban.'
The dust-up over the unofficial Taliban office in Qatar, with a spokesman for Karzai stressing that Afghanistan must lead peace negotiations to end the war, suggests tensions in the U.S. and Afghan approaches to the peace process. [There is more than tension. There is desperation!]

Speaking in an interview with CNN aired on Sunday, Karzai counseled caution in making sure that Taliban interlocutors are authentic -- and authentically seeking peace. The Rabbani killing, he said, "brought us in a shock to the recognition that we were actually talking to nobody."
Critics of Obama's peace initiative are deeply skeptical of the Taliban's willingness to negotiate given that the West's intent to pull out most troops after 2014 would give insurgents a chance to reclaim lost territory or nudge the weak Kabul government toward collapse.
While the United States is expected to keep a modest military presence in Afghanistan beyond then, all of Obama's 'surge' troops will be home by next fall and the administration - looking to refocus on domestic priorities [An uphill election.] -- is already exploring further reductions. [To be more accurate, they are desperate "reductions."]

Another reason to be circumspect is the potential spoiler role of Pakistan, which has so far resisted U.S. pressure to crack down on militants fueling violence in Afghanistan.
Such considerations make for a divisive initiative within the Obama administration. Few officials describe themselves as optimists about the peace initiative; at the State Department, formally leading the talks, senior officials see the odds of brokering a successful agreement at only around 30 percent. [Right. The only "agreement" is United States armed forces out of Afghanistan NOW!!!]

"There's a very real likelihood that these guys aren't serious ... which is why are continuing to prosecute all of the lines of effort here," the third senior U.S. official said.
While NATO commanders promise they will keep up pressure on militants as the troop force shrinks, [Impossible!] they are facing a tenacious insurgency in eastern Afghanistan that may prove even more challenging than the south. [Count on it! As our invading troop force shrinks, remaining troops are in increase danger. All must leave together or the remaining few will get slaughtered in jihad] .

Still, with Obama committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan, as the United States did last week from Iraq, the administration has few alternatives but to pursue what may well prove to be a quixotic quest for a deal.

"Wars end, and the end of wars have political consequences," the second official said. "You can either try to shape those, or someone does it to you." [There is no way to shape defeat.]

(Editing by David Storey, Christopher Wilson and Philip Barbara)

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Any analysis or discussion of Iran's nuclear program should include Israel's development of nuclear weapons during which they lied to and misled the inspectors and the US. When it became known that they had developed the weapons there was no criticism from tha US and certainly no suggestion of military action or sanctions.
Another example of US duplicity and double standard.

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