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Henry Rollins speaks at Brave New Films Studio

By Robyn Chelsea-Seifert at Examiner

Grammy winning spoken word artist, musician, and activist, Henry Rollins has traveled extensively throughout the world. His most recent stops include Saudi Arabia, China, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. He is an outspoken supporter of Amnesty International and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), as well as having multiple tours under his belt with the USO for several years where he has entertained American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is known to tirelessly correspond with both active members of military and veterans and blogs about the social, political and economical status for Vanity Fair online. At the invitation of award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald (Iraq For Sale, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price), Henry will take part in an intimate discussion about the economy and surge followed by an open forum for questions at Brave New Films Studios on December 21 at 6:30PM. Admission is free.

Robert Greenwald’s most recent documentary, Rethink Afghanistan takes a closer look at the war our Nation has been fighting since 2001. The high impact documentary, released online in segments, features experts from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. discussing the United States’ flawed strategy in Afghanistan.

The 30,000 U.S. troop surge to Afghanistan will begin this week amid growing concerns of collusion between the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda with militants in Pakistan. With the almost 70,000 troops already in place, are we ignoring a valuable Russian history lesson?

“They don’t have the troop sizes nor could they ever conceivably have the troop sizes to actually control the country side,” Anand Gopal, Afghan correspondent for the Wall Street Journal admits in the film.

“It would require hundreds of thousands of troops in every village which is not a tenable situation whatsoever.”

Robert Pape, author of “Dying to Win,” concurs admitting, “You need a ratio of something like one combat soldier for every people in the country and what that equates to in Afghanistan is well over a quarter million western combat forces.”

Greenwald has created a viral campaign asking for 100,000 signatures to a petition voting no on a spending bill that would send more troops to Afghanistan. The additional troops cost taxpayers in excess of $100 billion dollars a year. The campaign has taken off with little over 80,000 signatures and caught the attention of Rep. Alan Grayson who read the petition aloud on the Congressional floor Tuesday, December 15.

Afghanistan has become a war with no clear direction and one has to wonder how long we can afford a war that continues to endanger the lives of Americans. “You cannot bring about change by force,” Faisal Alikhan, founder of FIDA (Foundation for Integrated Development Action) maintains in Rethink Afghanistan.

“For the local people they say, ‘ok on one side you are talking about peace and on the other side you are talking about bringing more troops.’ It doesn’t make any sense. So I think it doesn’t help in terms of what the perception is in the minds of the local people. If you are talking about not engaging military and looking towards development and diplomacy, then why have more of a surge of troops,” Alikhan said.

The full attention given to pursuing military action while negating the cost of human lives has been at issue from the start. The annual cost of stationing a soldier in Afghanistan has swelled to $1 million – money that could better serve the poverty stricken villages at a fraction of the cost. U.S. contractors have benefited greatly by pocketing much of the subsidized money while investing only a small percentage in local services and contractors.

Can a humanitarian approach resurrect interest from an emotionally taxed and financially burdened nation in a downed economy where people are losing their houses, their jobs, their healthcare and their patience for an endless war?

“This is not some faraway place for someone like me,” says Alikhan. “This is my home. If I am living there and a bomb was to fall and you see your daughter’s leg flying in the air or your wife is hurt, it’s very difficult to have a sympathetic view towards the greater cause even if you are not part of collateral damage.”

Henry Rollins is scheduled to speak at Brave New Films Studio on December 21 at 6:30PM. Admission is free. 2010 will take Henry on the Frequent Flyer Tour crossing the United States, Australia, South Africa and Canada. The tour makes a stop in the Bay Area in the spring.

Rethink Afghanistan: Experiences in the Afghanistan War