I just watched the Queen deliver a bit of a talk for Christmas. I got that warm, fuzzy, happy holidays feeling inside. Although I don’t believe in Santa anymore, I really do believe in the Queen. I want to grow up to be an old woman who dresses just like her and does that stiff wave of the hand to my adoring subjects. Of course, I won’t have any adoring subjects, but neither will the Queen if she keeps up her support of the war in Afghanistan. In her Christmas message the Queen tries to support “young people” and the issues that are important to them while simultaneously giving a pro-war bit about Afghanistan.
Who does the Queen think is being sent to fight this useless war in Afghanistan? Old gals like her? Or me? Nope, it’s young people and when the war in Afghanistan manages to collapse the American Empire, just like it did the Soviet one, I would hate to think that Great Britain would also finally collapse under the weight of its long dead Empire. After all, that would lead (if I can push the Sex Pistols reference a bit farther), to Anarchy in the UK. And then would the Queen be allowed to appear in a lovely aqua-marine frock with some costume-jewelry looking broach and address the young people of the Commonwealth? God save the Queen.
But even if the British Empire survives, it is pretty clear that the American Empire, like the Soviets before them, will collapse under the weight of the endless war in Afghanistan. A recent video from Rethink Afghanistan makes that clear.
The US is making the exact same assumptions about fighting the war in Afghanistan that the Soviets made: that more troops would lead to victory, that they could win without the support of the people (a minority of Afghans now believe the US occupation is a good thing), and that spending that much economic and political capital on foreign wars would not lead to an eventual collapse at home. It’s pretty scary when every assumption of the Soviet government mirrors the assumptions made by Dubbya and now Obama. It’s also pretty scary when the likes of Mikhael Gorbachev are trying to warn Obama of the dangers of sending more and more troops to back up an unpopular government with an even less popular war and no one in the White House seems to care.
According to Representative Eric Massa, Christmas Eve marks a sobering collection of milestones in Afghanistan.
As we begin our deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, this Christmas Eve will also mark the 3,000th day of the war in Afghanistan and the 30th anniversary of the initial Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Thus far, this war has already cost the American taxpayer a minimum of $300,000,000,000 according to the Congressional Research Service (and that’s just the funding that’s “on budget”).
That’s a lot of 3s. Now we need 3 Wise human beings to make the US understand that Afghanistan is not “winnable.” The US can’t even wage a war on drugs there successfully, let alone a war for what? Democracy? Christianity? Who can even say what the goal is. Because there is no victory in Afghanistan. Only defeat.
And as difficult as the collapse of the American Empire will be, as it sinks under the weight of costs of this war, losing the Queen will be like losing our belief in Santa. We’ll just never be able to get that warm and fuzzy feeling of seeing her wave and wish us a Merry Christmas again.
Thirty years ago today the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and sparked what was to be a 10 year-bloody occupation, claiming the lives of 10,000 Soviet soldiers, and more than a million Afghans. Often referred to as the USSR’s “Vietnam,” it served as a a sober lesson to many Russians, and, today also being the 3000th day of the US war in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation offers a warning to the this country. In fact the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Andrey Avetisyan articulated a warning in an interview to the German Press this week, saying that Afghanistan was not like World War II. Now, one of President Barack Obama’s most vocal critics on the topic of the Afghanistan War, Congressman Eric Massa is calling for an up or down vote on the escalation of the war in the House of Representatives. Congressman Massa, a Democrat from New York is a 24 year retired military officer and former special assistant to the then Supreme Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark. A month and a half ago he publicly spoke out on the floor of the House and formally called for an end to the US war in Afghanistan. PLAY TRACK.
GUEST: Congressman Eric Massa (D-NY)
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the start of the Soviet war of Afghanistan, Brave New Films has put together a video looking back at that occupation and the lessons pertaining to the United States. Watch the video here:
MASSA CUT: Rep Eric Massa in early November calling for an immediate end to the US occupation of Afghanistan on the floor of the House of Representatives.
CUT FROM BRAVE NEW FILMS: THE SOVIET LESSON NOT LEARNED first hear the voice of a Russian man who was a journalist during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. We also hear the voice of Matthew Hoh, the highest ranking state department official who publicly resigned over the Afghanistan war. We also hear Mikhail Gorbachev and others.
Progressive journalist Robert Greenwald has produced strong documentaries about everything from big box stores (“Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”) to the excesses of Fox News (“Outfoxed”).
Through his Brave New Productions company, Greenwald has created a new template for up-to-the-minute, ever-evolving non-fiction filmmaking that combines traditional edited material on DVD with links to brand new interviews on his website and Facebook.
Greenwald’s latest project, “Rethink Afghanistan,” is a sobering and timely look at the chaos in that country just as President Obama has committed tens of thousands of troops for what he says will be a strictly limited military action.
The documentary deals both with the continuing breakdown of order in Afghanistan and the fact that Obama may be setting the stage for his own political demise in a quagmire strikingly similar to the one in Vietnam that ended Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.
The U.S. populace is so caught up in its own economic chaos that it is has given Obama a pass on Afghanistan for the time being, the film asserts. When the huge financial and physical cost of the war begins to be felt, the public could turn on the president as quickly as it did on Johnson.
Progressives are so thrilled by Obama’s sophistication and intelligence that they seem to be looking the other way when it comes to Afghanistan. There is pretty strong evidence that things have gotten worse in the country with American involvement — suicide bombings were unknown before we arrived and they are now escalating.
Greenwald shows how U.S. policy in Afghanistan may be as misguided as our terrible venture in Iraq. Support for Muslim extremism is increasing around the world as a result of our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the latter country we seem to be lumping the Taliban (above) and al Qaeda together (even though they have little use for each other).
Apparently, our Iraq fatigue and euphoria over the end of the Bush II era have set the stage for another military/political disaster.
In “Rethink Afghanistan” Greenwald (below right with journalist Anand Gopal) has assembled an impressive array of intelligence experts, journalists and people in Afghanistan who point out that U.S. military occupation is destined to make things worse in an intensely nationalistic culture (one politician asks what we would do if a foreign army was stationed in the U.S. to “restore order”).
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has pulled together a group of five Republicans and eight Democrats who plan to introduce a special resolution on the House floor compelling the president to comply with the War Powers Act as he wages war in Afghanistan.
Congress has largely ceded its constitutional duty to declare war and has instead been relegated to approving or disapproving war funds — it hasn’t cut off money for a war since Vietnam.
While Kucinich was on the House floor Tuesday debating the war, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) gathered reporters in the Rayburn House Office Building to decry Obama’s proposed troop escalation, which Grayson said will only waste lives and money in pursuit of an impossible goal. Grayson had just come from the floor, where he inserted 100,000 names petitioning for an end to the war into the congressional record.
If a war is being waged without a declaration, the War Powers Act allows any representative to introduce a joint resolution forcing the House Committee on Foreign Relations to vote on that resolution within 15 days; Kucinich is hoping to force such a vote. The resolution would then be sent back to the House floor.
“Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States makes it Congress’ responsibility to determine whether or not we go to war or stay at war. Consistent with Article 1, Section 8, the privileged resolutions will invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973. I ask for your support of these resolutions, which will be introduced in the House in January,” Kucinich wrote to his colleagues last week.
Grayson and six other Democrats have signed on to his resolution, including Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Eric Massa (D-N.Y.).
The five Republicans include Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ed Whitefield (R-Ky.) and Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.).
“There is no nation of Afghanistan. There’s not likely to be one in the future,” Grayson said at the briefing. “We are not able to bring about security or stability in an area like that. We are fighting against the reality of the situation.”
Members of the U.S. Congress received a classified briefing on Wednesday on the war in Afghanistan from two Obama administration officials – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At the same time on Capitol Hill, a Democratic lawmaker and anti-war activists spoke out against President Barack Obama’s U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan.
Secretaries Gates and Clinton briefed lawmakers behind closed doors in the House of Representatives on President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy and the expected costs of adding 30,000 U.S. troops to the international force already there.
As the troop surge picks up momentum, members of Congress are concerned about how expensive the buildup will be between now and July 2011 – the date the president set to begin a drawdown of U.S. forces, the speed of which will depend on conditions in Afghanistan.
Gates and Clinton were to have briefed a joint hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations, but that event was postponed.
In brief remarks to reporters, Secretary Clinton said President Obama is committed to ensuring that additional funds for the troop buildup – which the Pentagon estimates will cost between $30 and $35 billion – will be reflected in the 2011 fiscal year budget, which is request expected on Capitol Hill in February.
At the same time, one Democrat who has emerged in recent months as one of the most outspoken war critics in Congress used a news conference to argue that the troop buildup is a costly mistake.
VOA Photo – D. Robinson
Calling the president’s Afghanistan effort “an 18th century strategy being employed against a 14th century enemy,” Florida Representative Alan Grayson said the ability of the United States to bring peace to Afghanistan is limited.
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.
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.
When the Obama administration last week rolled out its new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, it competed for media coverage with White House gate crashers and Tiger Wood’s indiscretions, along with the Senate debate on health care reform, its more worthy and relevant adversary for our attention.
The usual suspects weighed in from the right: former Vice President Dick Cheney warned anew of the wages of weakness, and Rush Limbaugh could discern only marginal relief from the long weeks of “dithering”.
But where was the left? Conspicuous in its absence has been protest over the surge from much of the antiwar movement. Whether from reluctance to challenge the president they supported, or perhaps wanting to trust in his judgment, and possibly short on resources to devote to world affairs in the current economic climate, there was not much push back from that quarter.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking and talking about it. A dozen or so members and guests of the local group “Essex County For Change” gathered to do just that on Sunday, in the South Orange living room of a couple whose children were out for the afternoon.
Jake Diliberto, who served with the Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and then in Iraq, doesn’t like talking about his own battlefield experiences in either theater of the War on Terror. Perhaps that explains why the 27-year-old Diliberto is today leading a charge among veterans of the ongoing conflicts to stop the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, which President Barack Obama called for last week.
“I’m concerned about our men and women in uniform who are being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in sight,” said Diliberto, who joined the Marines right after his high school graduation in 2000. After leaving the service, he returned to college at Illinois State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science. Now he is studying for a master’s degree in theology and ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, working on a thesis titled “Just War Doctrine in a Time of Global Jihad Insurgency.”
Handsome and charming, but informed and down-to-earth, Diliberto founded Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan (VRTA), a group of activists and veterans pushing to reduce troop counts in Afghanistan and lobby for the use of alternative peacemaking strategies.
“I’m doing this effort so that I can urge our lawmakers to bring the open-ended War on Terror to an end and that they make the right efforts to keep America safe from violent Islamic radicalism — and you don’t have to do that by occupying and invading countries,” says Diliberto, who appeared with retired Gens. Wesley Clark and Barry McCaffrey, along with Pete Hegseth of Veterans for Peace, on CNN’s “Larry King Live” last week — the night after Obama announced plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.
“Violent Islamic militarism cannot be defeated by [the] military. It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to kill Christianity.’ It’s not possible,” he states passionately. “It’s bigger than what a government or state can do. The war today is not a war of state-on-state actors, but a war of cultural misunderstanding, religious fanaticism and a giant divide between the rich and the poor.”
Diliberto has a long family history of military service — his grandfathers served in World Wars I and II, one of them winning a Bronze Star, and his uncles served in Vietnam and the Gulf War. However, his father did not serve and his parents were extremely nervous about him joining. Even so, he enlisted in the Marines upon graduation.