Mobilize to end the occupation October 27th!

Find more info at the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, or United for Peace and Justice


October 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Dave Cline

This weekend Dave Cline, an early and very vocal member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, former president of Veterans for Peace and a key supporter and inspiration for the formation of Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2004. Dave was a great man, encouraging many to stand up and take action against militarism and war through sharing their firsthand stories and experience. Without him the Veterans’ movements would not be as strong as they are today, putting all his energy and hope into supporting others’ voices and creating space for healing and change for both individuals and our society.

He will be missed and we carry on with those same dreams and energy.

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September 19, 2007 at 5:57 pm Leave a comment

People need to be supported, not saved, for peace in Darfur and Congo

I read What is the What? last week, a fictionalized version of Valentino Achak Deng‘s experience as a Lost Boy growing up and fleeing Sudan. I now have a better understanding of the recent history and conflict of the country, even though we only hear about Darfur in the news.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently went to a refugee camp in Darfur, and as anyone confronted with the faces of war would, committed himself to ending the conflict. For years now a small African Union Peacekeeping force has been doing what it can, but efforts to reinforce the AU troops with UN Peacekeepers has been blocked by the government in Khartoum, who are exactly the ones who armed the militias that have made so many refugees in the first place. Hopefully the promised 26,000 Peacekeepers, the largest UN Peacekeeping force ever, arrives soon and can avoid further displacement and death.

While there are only so many troops available for ‘peacekeeping’ the 17,000 size force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, has done little to bring stability or peace for the Congolese. While Africa’s World War theoretically ended in 2003 with a peace agreement and a national democratic election was held earlier this year, there is still widespread violence and displacement throughout the country with over 4 million civilians dead since 1998. Fighting in the North and South Kivu Provinces alone has displaced over 200,000 people so far this year and threatens to escalate to full-fledged war (though I’m sure it feels like full war to people in the region already), again. No one here talks about this country, or this endless conflict, for a variety of reasons that include our overthrowing the first democratically elected Prime Minister on the continent, Patrice Lumumba, and installing the heinous dictator Mobutu as well as the intense pillaging of the Congo’s rich resources (Diamonds, Gold, Coltan, Uranium, Copper, Tin, Silver, Cobalt, Niobium, Timber, Hydro Power, Manganese, Petroleum) on the cheap because of the dictatorship and later the ongoing conflict.

Talk about it. Check out the Friends of the Congo site. Take action. War anywhere is wrong, don’t ignore it’s existence because people will keep dying and suffering.

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September 6, 2007 at 5:03 am Leave a comment

Stop children, what’s that sound?

“Withdrawing US forces from Iraq would leave the Middle East to the ‘forces of radicalism’ and jeopardise US security, according to George Bush, the US president.”

Apparently George has missed those National Intelligence Estimate conclusions that “The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world.” Further proof of the devastating destruction that the occupation has caused the social, political and economic fabric of the country, there’s been a drastic increase of child fighters being detained in Iraq. These child fighters have been coerced or paid to place roadside bombs and even kidnap or kill. U.S. forces can detain them for up to one year before releasing them to the Iraqi judicial system, and in some places have implemented education centers to counteract the lack of options or beliefs that drove them to commit or attempt the crimes – despite the fact that the U.S. government uses similar coercion in the form of a poverty draft for it’s ‘all-volunteer army.’ It doesn’t seem to be as widespread as the use of child soldiers in other parts of the world in recent years, it is yet another aspect of the occupation that has lasting consequences for the country and the next generation that will only worsen as time goes on.

So the U.S. government continues it’s verbal assault on Iran and arrests more of it’s government employees while blaming the Iraqi government for not doing what we told them to quickly enough, without remembering that all of our involvement in the Middle East has brought more suffering, which creates space for fundamentalist and violent radicalism to grow.

At least Great Britain is now saying that the U.S. can’t dictate how long they’ll keep troops in Iraq, hopefully they’ll withdraw all or most of their remaining 5,500 troops by the end of the year; France’s Sarkozy also joined in with a call for full withdrawal of foreign troops by the end of the year, stating that only then could France play a role in supporting a political solution to the conflict.

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August 29, 2007 at 4:23 am Leave a comment

Doublespeak: Democracy

Apparently the part of democracy that the Iraqis aren’t getting is the part where they do only what the U.S. government wants.

Bush is so desperate to justify the continued occupation of Iraq that he actually compared it to Vietnam. Really? You’re going to go there? Open up the debate on another war we had no reason to start, that cost the lives of over 3 million people – 58,000 U.S. troops included, and hard to say how much residual damage and death caused by the chemicals and landmines left behind – to claim our withdraw from Vietnam was the cause of so much death rather than the unjust war/occupation itself? Maybe he wasn’t so disillusioned by Vietnam since he was so distracted trying to avoid going there at all, but what kind of desperate fool says such things, in mockery of all the destruction and death caused by both this war and that?

Oh, but he still likes that Al-Maliki fellow, even while he doesn’t fully understand that the Iraqi government’s responsibility is not to him or the U.S. government but to the people of Iraq. Carl Levin missed that memo too, that democracy doesn’t require you to do the every bidding of your occupiers.

Democracy demands that you meet the needs of your country and people; in Iraq this means creating some form of stable infrastructure, security and trust in the Iraqi government that can only come from their having the power to end the occupation of the country by foreign forces. Only then can the spiral of violence end, as can be seen from looking at any area that has been brutally occupied, the longer the occupation and the more brutal and exploitative it is the longer it takes for the violence to end when foreign troops withdraw and any subsequent governments to be viewed as legitimate or powerful.

Our continued presence in Iraq hurts the Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops living in constant terror, so what are we fighting for?

P.S. If we really cared about Iraqi civilians, or U.S. troops…well, the sheer inadequacies on both of those fronts to even create a veneer of concern would take days, or months, to even to begin to outline.

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August 23, 2007 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

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