From the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, #151A, Oct. 9, 2009
ATTENTION MID-HUDSON VALLEY READERS:
The leaflet for the the Oct. 17 antiwar protest in Kingston is now available. If you support the protest, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Leaflet” in the subject field. We’ll send it to you as a word attachment which we hope you will download, print and distribute. Thanks.
1. This is a mini-newsletter, mainly about the Oct. 17 rally and Afghanistan.
2.The OCT. 17 rally in Kingston will support legislation introduced in the House of Representatives Oct. 4 by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) “prohibiting the funding of a military escalation in Afghanistan.” Among Lee’s 21 co-sponsors is regional Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd CD).
1. Full info about the Kingston rally Oct. 17, the movement and the war.
2. Two other Hudson Valley actions Oct. 17
2. Our Friends The Taliban
3. President Obama gets the Peace Prize
1. DETAILS OF THE PEACE PROTEST
IN MID-HUDSON REGION OCT. 17
The Mid-Hudson region’s active peace movement is planning to show up in Kingston Saturday, Oct. 17 for a region-wide antiwar protest at Academy Green Park Saturday, 1-3:30 p.m.
The rally — which is part of a day of peace actions in a number of U.S. cities — is being organized by the New Paltz-based Peace & Social Progress Now! (PSPN), and has been endorsed so far by 20 organizations from several counties, with more expected. (For the rally in Albany and the vigil in Nanuet, see below.)
The demonstration is primarily focused on ending the unpopular Afghanistan War, which entered its ninth year this month, and is now being expanded by the Obama Administration despite the fact that “There now are no more than 100 al-Qaeda [operatives] in Afghanistan, [U.S.] officials believe,” according to the Associated Press Oct. 9.
“This is not the ‘good war,’ as some continue to believe even after the pretext has blown up in Uncle Sam’s face,” say the rally organizers. “It is the material expression of George W. Bush’s neoconservative response to the 9/11 terrorist tragedy with aggressive wars — particularly wars mainly intended to increase U.S. hegemony in Central Asia and the Middle East. This has been a terribly costly failure. Intense international police actions and other measures would have been, and remain, far more rational and successful alternatives.”
The Kingston gathering also represents an effort by the score of groups involved to reverse the decline of the Mid-Hudson antiwar movement in an effort to increase public pressure for peace. This weakening over the last two years has been nationwide, perhaps reaching a low point earlier this year, but long time observers of the antiwar movement believe the tide is turning.
Among the speakers at Academy Green Park are Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter editor Jack A. Smith discussing the Afghan War and today’s antiwar movement; activist union delegate Donna Goodman on the labor movement and the wars; attorney Michael Sussman on the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11; author, long time Bard professor and activist Joel Kovel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Gaza war; SUNY New Paltz student Claire Papell on youth and the wars; Dutchess County legislator Joel Tyner on the tasks confronting a progressive politician; filmmaker Dee Dee Halleck on the war industry and peace economy; Dutchess activist and organizer Fred Nagel on the GI and vets’ antiwar movements; activist Phyllis Rosner on the healthcare issue; and others as they are selected.
Topical singer Bob Lusk will perform, as will peace singers Julie Parisi Kirby and T. G. Vanini.
In addition to Peace & Social Progress Now!, local groups so far endorsing the rally include Dutchess Peace Coalition, Orange County Peace and Justice, Sullivan County Peace and Justice, Coalition of Concerned Citizens of New Paltz, Veterans for Peace (Woodstock), Women in Black (New Paltz), Middle East Crisis Response, United University Professions (SUNY/NP, AFL-CIO), Arts for Peace, Caribbean and Latin America Support Project, New Paltz Democracy Matters, Dutchess Greens, WESPAC, New Paltz Feminist Collective (SUNY), Mid-Hudson ANSWER, Mid-Hudson 911 Truth Commission, Real Majority Project, Orange County Democratic Alliance, Woodstock Peace Economy, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we put out this call in August,” said Smith, who is the co-chair of PSPN. “It had been evident that a number of people and groups active against the wars during the Bush-Cheney period were now relatively inactive, especially since President Barack Obama won election. But it is clear to us that many other antiwar people and groups are anxious to get back into the struggle, particularly as they grasp the extent to which the Obama Administration is expanding the Afghan War.”
According to new public opinion polls, the majority of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan, including over 75% of Democratic voters. At the same time, the Obama Administration is reorganizing its war strategy in Afghanistan, contemplating a much deeper penetration into Pakistan, as well seeking to make a deal with the Taliban by paying them off and allowing them to “share” power (see article below).
President Obama will decide within the next two or three weeks how many more GIs he will order to join the 68,000 U.S. troops already fighting in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants between 40,000 and 60,000 — numbers that may be intentionally exaggerated in order to allow the White House to “slash” them in half, or some such. A small progressive minority in Congress opposes a troop increase but it will be swept aside.
This important decision to widen the war will be based on an agreement between the White House, the generals and selected politicians — all of whom are dedicated to expanding the conflict in defiance of public opinion and pleas for an open nationwide debate.
The only significant opposition to a bigger war in Afghanistan/Pakistan will come from that sector of the peace movement willing to confront the Obama Administration. “Now is the time for peace-minded Hudson Valley residents to make their voices heard,” says a new leaflet for the Oct. 17 rally being circulated in the region. “Our rally will demand: ‘No more soldiers and marines to Afghanistan! End this unwinnable war and bring the troops home now.’ We oppose a major U.S. military thrust into Pakistan, as well as the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq, and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territories. We say, Money for jobs, healthcare and education, not war, invasion and occupation.”
For further information and directions, contact email@example.com and (845) 255-5779.
2. TWO OTHER ACTIONS IN THE VALLEY OCT. 17
ALBANY: The Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition is sponsoring a 12 noon to 3 p.m. rally at Capitol West Park at Washington Ave. and Swan St. This will be followed by a march up to Lark St. and back down to the park. The group demands "Bring all the Troops Home Now from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan." Information, (518) 439-1968, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NANUET: The Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice will set up a special 1-3 p.m. peace vigil here as part of the national day of protest. It will be at the NW and SW corners of Rt. 59 and Middletown Rd. The demand: End to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
3. OUR FUTURE FRIENDS, THE TALIBAN
One of the perennial arguments for not withdrawing from Afghanistan is that “the Taliban will return” if that happened, but this argument evidently is no longer valid in Washington.
The extreme Islamic fundamentalist Taliban took power in the mid-1990s as an unintended consequence of earlier U.S. intervention in the Afghan civil war to crush the progressive government in Kabul starting in 1978.
The Bush Administration invasion in October 2001 pushed the Taliban out of Kabul, the capital — but the plight of the Afghan people, particularly that of women, has not been alleviated except for a very small sector of the country.
In an article that could have been titled “Now They Tell Us,” the Associated Press reported Oct. 9 that “President Obama is prepared to accept some Taliban involvement in Afghanistan's political future.” This includes Washington’s acceptance of “some Taliban role in parts of Afghanistan, the [U.S.] official said. That could mean paving the way for Taliban members willing to renounce violence to participate in a central government.... While still dangerous, the Taliban is seen as an indigenous movement with almost entirely local and territorial aims and far less of a threat to the United States.”
In all probability the Obama Administration wants to duplicate former President Bush’s “successful surge” in Iraq. That is, Washington will make an expensive deal to pay off tens of thousands of Taliban supporters so they won’t shoot at American troops or plant roadside bombs.
Our guess is that the White House will agree to send more troops to join not only the 68,000 American soldiers already there but NATO’s 70,000 plus scores of thousands of “contractors” who perform behind-the-lines military tasks that soldiers used to do.
Some of these troops will remain indefinitely to “secure” Afghanistan while fighting members of the many different groups continuing to resist the occupation — lumped together under the name “Taliban” for convenience — while others will take the war to Pakistan in hopes of breaking the back of al-Qaeda fighters who fled across the border. This could keep the U.S. preoccupied with Afghanistan indefinitely, which is probably why the Obama Administration refuses to discuss an “exit strategy.”
President G. W. Bush bragged in 2002 that Afghan women — who lost virtually all their legal rights when the progressive government was destroyed in the early 1990s — were winning equality as a result of his invasion, but that was nonsense.
On Oct. 7, Zoya (her only name), a representative of the country’s foremost organization in support of women’s rights, the underground RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), was interviewed on Democracy Now. She said RAWA is in favor of withdrawal of NATO-U.S. troops. “Unfortunately,” she said, “in the past eight years, with thousands of troops, with billions of dollars poured in the country, and with the tens of countries present in Afghanistan... there [has been] no positive change.”
So is this what it’s all about? Deciding that the Taliban isn’t so bad after all, buying them off, tightening the occupation and fighting in Pakistan?
4. OBAMA’S NOBEL PRIZE
We were hoping that Pete Seeger got the Nobel Peace Prize, or several other very worthy individuals around the world who have long labored in the vineyards of peace and justice, and who have serious accomplishments to their credit.
We suspect President Barack Obama was as surprised as everyone else when he was awakened with the news Friday morning that he was the winner of the prestigious award. And perhaps he was a little embarrassed, too. As someone said on the radio that day, “it was like a talented rookie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
The main reason he was selected by the Swedish Nobel Committee — which certainly deserves its own booby prize for either sublime gullibility or awe-inspiring naiveté — was that he was not G.W. Bush, perhaps the worst president in American history.
The award was given for a perceived effort, not for actual achievement. The man has been on the job for only nine months and he’s still working on bagging a couple of lasting accomplishments. It was a kind of “Yes We Can” prize for the expression of good intentions.
Aside from this, there’s a little matter that the “Peace” Prize was awarded to President Obama while he is in the midst of presiding over two wars of aggression — one of which he is in the process of widening dangerously.
The Nobel Committee probably thought Orwell got it right: “War is peace.”