We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s escalated military campaign in Afghanistan, so we here at Brave New Foundation decided we’d mark the occasion with a new Rethink Afghanistan video that will convey the reasons why it’s time to end the war. We put out a call to our supporters to share their photo and the reasons why they think it’s time for the war to end on our “Because It’s Time” wall. Almost 1,000 people responded, and the community created a fantastic collage of images and personal statements to take a strong public stand for peace.
In the coming weeks, we’ll use the best comments left on the site to create a new video that sends a strong message to Washington, D.C. that it’s time to end the war.
A mine clearing line charge detonates on Route 611 in Sangin district, Helmand province, Afghanistan as U.S. Marines clear road for travel. (photo: DVIDSHUB, Dec. 4, 2010)
written by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe
On Thursday, December 16, 2010, the White House will use its December review to try to spin the disastrous Afghanistan War plan by citing “progress” in the military campaign, but the available facts paint a picture of a war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost.
Let’s take a look at just the very broad strokes of the information. After more than nine years and a full year of a massive escalation policy:
And yet, we are told we can expect a report touting security gains and “progress,” and that there’s virtually zero chance of any significant policy change from this review. It sort of begs the question: just what level of catastrophe in Afghanistan would signal that we need a change in direction?
This week’s Newsweek cover leads with the title, “Rethinking Afghanistan” and features an essay from Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations, warning that the war isn’t worth the cost and the current policy isn’t working. It’s gratifying to see the message that Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan campaign has pushed for a year on the front pages of such a mainstream publication. To Haas and the Newsweek team: we’re glad to have you with us.
Newsweek’s cover is just the latest sign that opposition to this brutal, costly war is now the norm, and American policy-makers had better take notice. Public opposition for to this war has exploded.
According to Newsweek’s latest poll, 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the Afghanistan War, and only 37 percent approve.
60 percent want to “stick to the plan to start withdrawal of forces in July of next year, even if the country is still as unstable as it is today.” Only 37 percent are “open to keeping the current number of forces in Afghanistan–or even adding more–if the country is still unstable in July of next year.”
A whopping 58 percent of those surveyed think the war is a lost cause, compared to 36 percent who think that winning is even a possibility.
And finally, Pew Research/National Journal Congressional Connection’s poll on July 8-11 found that a whopping 42 percent of people surveyed want to remove troops ASAP, up ten points since February.
But politics aside, our elected officials should end this war for the most basic of reasons: it’s a brutal policy that’s not working and that’s not worth the costs. It’s not worth the life of one more American troop or one more Afghan civilian. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted about an earlier counterinsurgency in someone else’s country: “The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
The Obama Administration just unveiled a huge Defense Department budget for next year shaped by the Afghanistan war. War spending is exempt from the president’s proposed spending freeze, despite President Obama’s statement at West Point that, “we can’t simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.”
The Obama administration plans to unveil a defense budget on Monday that pours billions into drones, helicopters and special forces, reflecting a focus on fighting Islamist extremists rather than conventional armies.
The Pentagon’s spending priorities as well as its strategic vision — which is also due to be unveiled this week — are a product of the counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan that have severely stretched the military.
The proposed 2011 defense budget comes to more than 700 billion dollars, a modest two percent increase, and unlike last year avoids sweeping cuts to major weapons programs, according to Pentagon officials and draft documents.
President Barack Obama’s new budget, to be released Monday, forecasts two consecutive years of near $160 billion in war funding, far more than he hoped when elected and only modestly less than the last years of the Bush Administration.
In 2011 alone, the revised numbers are triple what the president included in his spending plan a year ago. And the strain shows itself in new deficit projections, already hobbled by lagging revenues due to the weak economy.
We can’t afford to keep spending huge amounts of blood and treasure on a war that’s causing massive human suffering and that’s not making us any safer.
The Afghanistan war is a breeding ground for corruption, and today McClatchy Newspapers reports that it’s not just the corrupt Afghan government that’s feeding at the trough. The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says about three-quarters of its active corruption investigations involved Westerners.
The U.S. agency overseeing the multibillion dollar Afghanistan reconstruction effort is investigating 38 criminal cases ranging from contract fraud to theft – most involving non-Afghans, officials said Tuesday…Just 10 of the criminal cases under the microscope involve Afghans only, while the rest involve U.S. and other foreigners, according to Raymond DiNunzio, the agency’s assistant inspector general for inspections.
2009–a challenging year for us all. Thanks to your help and support, we were able to make a difference in the fight for social justice and take meaningful strides toward a more equal America for everyone.
With Rethink Afghanistan, we raised awareness about the realities of the war in Afghanistan and the need for new non-military solutions. Some 830,000 online views of Robert Greenwald’s documentary and over 100,000 petition signatures presented to Congress later, Brave New Films has become a major voice for the movement to question the Afghanistan war and our campaign has had an impact in the mainstream media and the national public discourse surrounding this war. Join us today as a Peacemaker as we step up our efforts and our demands to congress next year.
With Sick for Profit, we were able to expose the obscene profits of the healthcare industry’s worst villains: UnitedHealth Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Wellpoint. These CEOs raked in millions of dollars while denying ordinary people necessary health care. The fight’s not over yet. We need to stand up for real healthcare reform and against the corporate greed of health insurers.
We also launched two exciting new series:
Brave New Conversations features progressive opinion leaders and celebrities talking about the most pressing topics of the day. Subscribe and find out what Amy Goodman, Shepard Fairey, Tom Hayden, Billy Bragg, and former Afghan prime minister (and bravest woman in Afghanistan) Malalai Joya had to say about art, music, and war. Slated for the coming year: Jane Fonda, Oliver Stone, Tim Robbins, Tom Morello, and Janeane Garofalo.
Hundreds of thousands nationwide viewed Senator Sanders Unfiltered in its first season and heard from the senate’s most progressive member on up-to-the-minute topics every week. Senator Sanders called out the ways the Fed coddled Wall Street, which enjoyed a flood of enormous bailouts while credit to consumers, ordinary homeowners, and small business owners continues to be a trickle.
We couldn’t have brought you these important stories without your help.
You’re invited to join us this Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 7:00pm for a Conversation in our studios between Robert Greenwald and long-time activist and author, Tom Hayden.
The ultimate 60s activist, Tom went on to serve in the California State Legislature for eighteen years. He’ll share the insights gleaned from his forty years of activism and politics as outlined in his newest book, The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama.
A riveting look at that revolutionary era, The Long Sixties makes the case that Barack Obama was possible only because of the stunning social changes born in that game-changing decade – and you can hear about what that means for social movements today straight from the man who helped define the Sixties movement.
This is one Brave New Conversation not to be missed.
Date: Wednesday, November 11th at 7:00 pm Please arrive on time. We are filming this event and will shut the studio door promptly at 7:00 pm.
Join us this Thursday, November 12th for a special screening of our breakthrough documentary, Rethink Afghanistan. We’ll be joined by several compelling voices speaking out against the war: Daniel Ellsberg, Matthew Hoh, Sonali Kolhatkar and our very own Robert Greenwald.
After eight long years, and with words like “quagmire” and “new Vietnam” now being used to describe the situation in Afghanistan, the time is ripe for change. By educating people with our groundbreaking film and sharing the powerful voices of those who dare to speak out — this is how an opposition movement to the war will be built.
Daniel Ellsberg, the man who helped bring about an end to both the Nixon presidency and the Vietnam War when he leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, a 7,000-page classified history outlining the true extent of US involvement in Vietnam.
Matthew Hoh, who recently became the first known US official to resign in protest of the Afghan war. Matthew has been featured in The Washington Post, on CNN and all over the media in recent weeks outlining his position against the war.
Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and producer of the radio show Uprising at KPFK-FM, Pacifica Radio. Sonali is also the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, which works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Robert Greenwald, producer, director and political activist as well as founder and president of Brave New Foundation, a new media company that uses media to educate, influence, and empower viewers to take action around issues that matter.
You can help inspire the courage and conviction needed to stand up and speak out against the injustice being done to the people of Afghanistan by attending this important screening. We usually do not charge for our events, but we need to raise more money to make a difference with our efforts in this area. Donation suggestion for admission is only $20, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of the Rethink Afghanistan DVD to take home to share.
Prior to the screening there will be a reception where you’ll have the rare opportunity to meet Daniel Ellsberg, Matthew Hoh, Sonali Kolhatkar and Robert Greenwald. Hear their thoughts in a more intimate setting for a donation of just $100, and receive a year-long subscription to our Brave New Conversations series as well.
“Rethink Afghanistan,” …is being produced and released in segments by the political documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald. In six episodes so far, Mr. Greenwald has used interviews with academics, Afghans and former C.I.A. operatives to raise questions about civilian casualties, women’s rights, the cost of war and whether it has made the United States safer.
The episodes, some as short as two minutes, are circulated via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and blogs. Antiwar groups are also screening them with members of Congress.
I do have one quibble with the NYT’s characterization of the movement, however. Many of the groups mentioned have been consistent in their opposition to war, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican sat in the White House. While it’s true that many have been reluctant to publicly oppose President Obama, others have stood on street corners, badgered their representatives, held screenings of Rethink Afghanistan in their local communities, and worked against a massive public desire to sink into obliviousness now that George W. Bush is back in Texas. As Robert put it in the NYT piece, it’s been “lonely out there,” and the folks who’ve been out there from the beginning deserve a pat on the back for helping to swing public opinion against this war.
That’s not to say that there aren’t people working to kill the energy of the nascent movement to end the war in Afghanistan. Even some who were with us on Iraq are trying to stop the turning of the tide:
“People do not want to take on the administration,” said Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org. “Generating the kind of money that would be required to challenge the president’s policies just isn’t going to happen.”
…Others, like VoteVets.org, support the American military presence in Afghanistan, calling it crucial to fighting terrorism.
Hide and watch, Mr. Soltz.
(Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal.)
El periodista y anfitrión del programa de Telemundo “El Contexto” Ruben Luengas habló sinceramente con Robert Greenwald, productor de Brave New Foundation, en los asuntos mayores frente a la guerra en Afganistán. Mientras la mayoría de norteamericanos forma sus opiniones en Afganistán leyendo las noticias, nadie sabe la realidad que se encuntra en el país. Sin embargo, cinematográfico documental Robert Greenwald ha estado manteniendo un ojo cercano en Afganistán habiendo visitado recientemente Kabul y trabajando actualmente en su último proyecto Repensar Afganistán.
En su reportaje, “Infierno en Afganistán,” Ruben Luengas afirma que cuando utilizamos el poder militar para resolver lo que es en esencia un problema político y económico, el resultado es la muerte y accidentes civiles en gran parte debido a política exterior de EEUU. Por ejemplo, en el documental se destaca una anciana con cinco nietos que han perdido a sus padres debido a la guerra. Ella, un anciano con una pierna amputada, se confronta con la responsabilidad de cuidar por sus nietos sin poder trabajar. En el documental ella prefiere morirse antes que vivir la manera en que ella y sus nietos viven actualmente. Otro ejemplo destaca a un padre que pone a su joven hija arriba en venta para ganar dinero para alimentar a otros miembros de la familia.