Call to Action: Afghanistan funding

               

Following up on yesterday’s post regarding WikiLeaks and Afghanistan,
this week the House will vote on an additional $33 BILLION supplemental
for the occupation of Afghanistan.

I just called my representative’s office and urged him to vote NO
(and said I would withhold my vote in November if he voted for further funding).

You can call your representative toll free at 1-888-493-5443.

Think of all the good that could come of $33 BILLION dollars.
Thank you.
                      

WikiLeaks and Afghanistan

Yesterday, Wikileaks released 90,000 pages of classified U.S. military material
documenting 2004-2009 of the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan.

Surprise, surprise,
things are not going so well over there.

The U.S. has killed lots of civilians, many more than admitted,
the Taliban is stronger than ever before,
Pakistan and Iran are involved,
and the U.S. government, the same U.S. government that last week
barely saw fit to extend unemployment benefits,
has spent over $300 billion in Afghanistan.

War crimes, waste, corruption, and insanity.

So all this obviously means the U.S. gets out ASAP, right?

(Glenn Greenwald has more information plus links to why WikiLeaks is secret government’s Enemy #1
and further analysis of the released documents).

Not a great way to start the week, I know,
but very necessary.
                            

Same as it ever was

Quick, who said this:

"So no – I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region."

You’d be excused if you thought those words came from George W. Bush.
But you’d also be wrong because
those fearmongering words came from Obama’s speech last night.

Obama ended with this Bush-esque tangle of mixed metaphor and jingoism:

"America – we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. Thank you, God Bless you, God Bless our troops, and may God Bless the United States of America."

Then Obama went back to the White House to pack his bags
for his trip to Oslo where he’ll pick up his Nobel Peace Prize.

Another Perspective on Fort Hood

    

There are many out there beating the "Muslim=haters" drum
regarding yesterday’s tragedy.
This essay provides insights not provided by the shrieking media.


Focusing on Ft. Hood Killer’s Beliefs Are an Easy Out to Avoid the Deeper Reasons for the Massacre

That alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim is not enough to explain the motive for the attacks
By
Mark Ames, AlterNet. Posted November 6, 2009.<!–

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It’s hard to pinpoint what’s the most shocking thing about Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas. I’ll start with this: there’s nothing all that ground-breaking about it. Happens all the time, it’s just that we’re a nation of amnesiacs who forget all the unpleasantries, and refuse to learn the valuable lessons.

For starters, Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas — where one of the deadliest rampage shootings in American history took place in 1991, when an unemployed ex-Navy enlistee, George Hennard Jr., crashed his pickup into a popular cafeteria, pulled out two handguns (Hasan also used two handguns), and murdered 23 people before taking his own life. The day before the massacre, Hennard was eating a hamburger in a local restaurant watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and, according to the manager, “When an interview with Anita Hill came on, he just went off. He started screaming, ‘You dumb bitch! You bastards opened the door for all the women!’”

So yesterday’s Fort Hood shooting isn’t the worst or most deranged mass-killing in Killeen’s history — not by a longshot. The mainstream media is enabling the screaming about the Muslim traitors in our midst, but Hasan killed far fewer Americans than the white, racist George Hennard. And they were bested by the federal government in nearby Waco Texas, in 1993, when federal forces slaughtered some 75 men, women and children in the Branch Davidian compound.

But in what may seem like a strange coincidence, Maj. Hasan and Killeen are connected to another American shooting rampage. Killeen held the record for America’s worst shooting massacre until 2007, when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 33 fellow students. And Malik Nadal Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997. Both Hasan and Cho were bullied and harassed — Hasan’s cousin told reporters that after 9/11, his military comrades regularly abused him, calling him “camel jockey.” But the cousin insisted that Hasan’s opposition to the war didn’t grow out of the bullying, but rather from the stories he heard while interning as a psychiatric counselor to veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Hasan even hired an attorney to try to come to a settlement with the US government and leave the service, but they wouldn’t settle for a deal and instead forced him to deploy. He apparently fought it up to the day before his deployment — and instead of going to the war, he brought the war to the US military.

As is often the case, the wrong lesson was learned, and the solution was more guns and more militarization of society: after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007: a new pro-gun student group was formed, calling for the arming of as many students as possible. The group is called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, and today it claims over 40,000 members on over 363 campuses. Likewise in 1991 after the Killeen shootings, the state of Texas responded by enacting a law freeing up gun owners to carry concealed weapons. It was President Bush who signed the law as TX governor in 1995 — and it was also Bush in 2008 who signed the first federal gun control law in 13 years after the Virginia Tech massacre.

So Hasan, whose parents came to the US from Palestine, had plenty of personal connections to “Made in the USA” violence and massacres; and yet there’s a frantic attempt to make him out to be a crazy Muslim monster hell-bent on killing Americans. Why would he need to take inspiration just from them, when Americans already provided so many excellent examples of how to mass-murder fellow Americans?

Fort Hood, the largest military base in America, has seen its share of violence as well. For one thing, it holds the record for most soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — 685 so far — and though we don’t know the figures, it’s reasonable to assume that Fort Hood is responsible for a sizable percentage of the tens or hundreds of thousands killed in those countries since America invaded them. Over the same period, 75 soldiers have committed suicide at Fort Hood, ten in 2009 alone — the highest of any base. In just one weekend in 2005, two soldiers who’d returned from Iraq killed themselves in separate incidents. Last year, in something right out of Full Metal Jacket, Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan, 21, of the 1st Cavalry Division, shot and killed his lieutenant, then killed himself when police arrived. And life in Killeen isn’t much nicer: it has one of the nation’s lowest median incomes and highest crime rates. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier was killed by a Killeen cop who claimed he killed the soldier after being dragged underneath his SUV; the dead soldier’s mother filed a lawsuit claiming that the cop was notoriously out-of-control and violent, and that he shot her son while the car was pulled over.

All of this violence and despair led Fort Hood’s commander, Lt. General Rick Lynch, to build a post-traumatic stress disorder complex called the Resiliency Campus, featuring a Spiritual Fitness Center for soldiers to meditate, and a Cognitive Enhancement Assistance Center. As though a spiritual fitness workout routine could resolve the underlying cause of why a Resiliency Campus was built in the first place.

if the government really were concerned about all the suicides and PTSD cases, they could have prevented Mj. Hasan’s murder-suicide mission before it happened. It would have been easy: Hasan had pleaded with his superiors not to be sent to Iraq, where he was scheduled to be deployed, but his requests were denied. RIght-wing bloggers like Michelle Malkin and some mainstream outlets have seized on reports emerging that Hasan supposedly voiced opinions sympathetic to suicide bombers. But if he was an Al Qaeda sleeper-cell suicide bomber himself, it makes no sense why he’d a) argue with fellow soldiers that the wars are wrong and we should withdraw; and b) that he tried to get out of being deployed to Iraq. The 9/11 terrorists did their best to “blend in” and pretend like they were as American as apple pie, because the point is not to draw any attention to yourself if you’re a terrorist planning to suicide bomb a military base. Moreover, the timing of his shooting, the day before he was to be sent off, shows that his desperation had reached the limit. What this suggests is that the massacre could have been avoided if Maj. Hasan’s objections were taken into account.

Maj. Hasan’s opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars puts him where the majority of Americans are today. And he’s not the first soldier at Fort Hood to protest the war. Desertion rates have soared since the Iraq invasion, and Fort Hood has had some high-profile objectors making the news this year, such as Spc. Victor Agosto, who was court-martialed in August after he refused to go to Afghanistan, and Sgt. Travis Bishop, who filed for conscientious objector status after serving in Iraq for 14 months.

Going back to Vietnam War, Fort Hood was famous as the site of one of the first anti-war protests in 1965, when the so-called “Fort Hood 3” refused to be shipped off on the grounds that the war was wrong and illegal. Three years later, the movement expanded: hundreds of African-American GIs protested plans to deploy them to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and 43 were court-martialed. It was a heroic act: US troops and cops staged one of the bloodiest police-on-citizen episodes in modern history. In 1971, the Fort Hood United Front, made up of soldiers from the base, marched into Killeen, even though the city refused to grant them a permit; hundreds were arrested. 

Today, if you read through some of the forums out of Fort Hood, the antiwar mood is clearly strong and clearly a problem for the authorities. So they’ll do their best to paint Maj. Hasan as a Muslim loon. The rightwing has been trying for years now to equate opposition to the wars with pro-terrorist, anti-American sentiment, and by the poll numbers today, that would make most Americans anti-American terrorists. 

You can already see the dark, rank heart of the American Soul in anonymous messages posted on underground right-wing sites like Free Republic, a few of which are posted below:
 
Why is anyone surprised?

We already have a DIRTY MOSLEM TRAITOR in the Oval Office.

What’s one more moslem piece of garbage?

*         *         *

[Quoting a previous posting] **If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military. Period.**
 
I’m getting closer to:
 
If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military live in this country.
 
Period.

*         *         *

I’m getting closer to:

If you are Islamic, you may not live.

*         *         *

The story is still fresh and there’s a lot we don’t know, and there are still a lot of conflicting reports and confusion. Since Hasan will be tried in a military court, the American public will only learn whatever the military wants us to learn. And to a nation slipping deeper into its own amnesiac fog, the last thing we want to learn are the painful, threatening truths.

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See more stories tagged with: afghanistan, walter reed, rage murder, ft. hood, nidal malik hasan

Read more of Mark Ames at eXiledonline.com. He is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.
           

Bring Back the Draft?

         

Obama is reportedly ready to send more troops into Afghanistan.
People who quibble over the costs of health care reform have no qualms
about the billions spent each and every month to send our soldiers
over to occupy other countries and kill their citizens.
October was the deadliest month ever in Afghanistan for U.S. troops.

When and how will this madness end?  Bill Moyers has a suggestion.

Bill Moyers Essay: Restoring Accountability for Washington’s Wars
(transcript follows but I recommend watching this video to see the animated graphics
mainstream media use to depict war)

BILL MOYERS: Watching the CBS Evening News on Afghanistan this week I thought for a moment that I might be watching my grandson playing one of those video war games that are so popular these days.

REPORTER: An American military convoy traveling northwest–

BILL MOYERS: Reporting on the attacks that killed eight Americans, CBS turned to animation to depict what no journalists were around to witness. This is about as close to real war as most of us ever get, safely removed from the blood, the mangled bodies, the screams and shouts.

October, as you know, was the bloodiest month for our troops in all eight years of the war. And beyond the human loss, the United States has spent more than 223 billion dollars there. In 2010 we will be spending roughly 65 billion dollars every year. 65 billion dollars a year.

The President is just about ready to send more troops. Maybe 44 thousand, that’s the number General McChrystal wants, bringing the total to over 100 thousand. When I read speculation last weekend that the actual number needed might be 600 thousand, I winced.

I can still see President Lyndon Johnson’s face when he asked his generals how many years and how many troops it would take to win in Vietnam. One of them answered, "Ten years and one million." He was right on the time and wrong on the number– two and a half million American soldiers would serve in Vietnam, and we still lost.

Whatever the total for Afghanistan, every additional thousand troops will cost us about a billion dollars a year. At a time when foreclosures are rising, benefits for the unemployed are running out, cities are firing teachers, closing libraries and cutting essential maintenance and services. That sound you hear is the ripping of our social fabric.

Which makes even more perplexing an editorial in THE WASHINGTON POST last week. You’ll remember the "Post" was a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq, often sounding like a megaphone for the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine. Now it’s calling for escalating the war in Afghanistan. In a time of historic budget deficits, the paper said, Afghanistan has to take priority over universal health care for Americans. Fixing Afghanistan, it seems, is "a ‘necessity’"; fixing America’s social contract is not.

But listen to what an Afghan villager recently told a correspondent for the "Economist:" "We need security. But the Americans are just making trouble for us. They cannot bring peace, not if they stay for 50 years."

Listen, too, to Andrew Bacevich, the long-time professional soldier, graduate of West Point, veteran of Vietnam, and now a respected scholar of military and foreign affairs, who was on this program a year ago. He recently told "The Christian Science Monitor," "The notion that fixing Afghanistan will somehow drive a stake through the heart of jihadism is wrong. …If we give General McChrystal everything he wants, the jihadist threat will still exist."

This from a warrior who lost his own soldier son in Iraq, and who doesn’t need animated graphics to know what the rest of us never see.

So here’s a suggestion. In a week or so, when the president announces he is escalating the war, let’s not hide the reality behind eloquence or animation. No more soaring rhetoric, please. No more video games. If our governing class wants more war, let’s not allow them to fight it with young men and women who sign up because they don’t have jobs here at home, or can’t afford college or health care for their families.

Let’s share the sacrifice. Spread the suffering. Let’s bring back the draft.

Yes, bring back the draft — for as long as it takes our politicians and pundits to "fix" Afghanistan to their satisfaction.

Bring back the draft, and then watch them dive for cover on Capitol Hill, in the watering holes and think tanks of the Beltway, and in the quiet little offices where editorial writers spin clever phrases justifying other people’s sacrifice. Let’s insist our governing class show the courage to make this long and dirty war our war, or the guts to end it.