U.S. Out of Afghanistan and Libya
On June 22 President Obama addressed the country concerning the U.S. war against Afghanistan. He presented the situation as one where “war is winding down,” and “the tide of war is receding.” To back this up he announced the withdrawal of 10,000 troops this year and potentially another 23,000 next year. These troops represent the “surge” troops Obama sent into Afghanistan about 18 months ago. They are only a fraction of the U.S. troops and mercenaries in Afghanistan.
There are currently 100,000 U.S. troops, another 100,000 U.S.-paid mercenaries and 50,000 NATO troops, or about 250,000 U.S.-commanded forces in Afghanistan. Obama said that after the initial reduction of the 33,000 troops, “Our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead.” As is the case with U.S. occupied Iraq, Obama said, “Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.” What is not said is how many troops, mercenaries and U.S. occupied bases will remain to fulfill this “support” position. If Iraq is any indication it is tens of thousands, just as tens of thousands of U.S. troops occupy south Korea and Japan decades later.
The likelihood of continued occupation and U.S. aggression is also indicated by Obama’s call for a “partnership with the Afghan people that endures.” While Obama claims the U.S. “will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely,” he adds that this enduring partnership is “one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.” Thus drone attacks, Special Forces raids and assassinations and “support troops,” will all endure.
In addition, as it strives to do in Iraq and Palestine, the U.S. will dictate who can and cannot participate in elections. In this case, the U.S. will “allow” the Taliban and others wishing to participate but “They must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence and abide by the Afghan Constitution.” There is of course no requirement for the U.S. to abandon violence and interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, just as there is none for Israel to abandon violence against Palestine.
Obama does not limit himself to threatening Afghanistan. He also demands that Pakistan do more and that the U.S. will insist that Pakistan join more fully in eliminating “violent extremists,” as dictated by the U.S. He emphasized, to Pakistan and all the world that “There should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.” Elsewhere, after mentioning Pearl Harbor and 9/11, he said “We don’t forget,” and that the U.S. will hold anyone that threatens it accountable, no matter how long it takes. “We will not relent until the job is done,” he said. He emphasized that whenever the U.S. is threatened — not attacked, not even a “clear and present danger” but simply threatened — it will respond with force.
Obama also spoke to the problems the ruling circles are currently facing in terms of U.S. legitimacy and efforts to dominate the world with a military that is already over-extended and unable to defeat the peoples, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. He said, “Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.” Clearly there is concern about U.S. legitimacy while also the insistence of keeping the U.S. as superpower, the “anchor” that all must adhere to.
Obama also offers his answer to these problems, as he vies to remain champion of the U.S. ruling circles and continue as president in 2012. He said, “We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force — but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we’re doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.”
This is a statement of American exceptionalism, with the world required to accept the “singular” U.S. role as dominant world imperialist power, which today means eliminating rule of law and sovereignty and responding with force whenever “threatened.” The U.S. has the "singular" role to decide who is a "threat" and "violent extremist," who can and cannot participate in governance in other countries, who it will and will not "give" the chance to decide their destiny."
The accomplishments of the peoples' fight against fascism and its defeat, which include opposing use of force in settling conflicts among nations and upholding sovereignty and non-interference, are to be thrown in the mud. A more “centered course,” is one where there is U.S. use of force, whether through drones, bombing campaigns as is occurring with Libya, Special Forces black ops and assassinations, or war. It is the U.S. that “gives” the peoples, whether in Libya, or Afghanistan, or Puerto Rico, the “chance” to determine their own destiny. The resistance and defiance of the peoples themselves is “violent extremism.”
As well, “extremists” at home are those who would have the U.S. “retreat” in the face of “very real threats,” as well as those who would have the U.S. “overextended” by using armies when drones and “international action,” are sufficient. This content as to what is a “more centered course,” is directed not only at the anti-war movement and majority of Americans demanding an end to U.S. wars now and All U.S. Troops Home Now! It is also directed at Congress and potential presidential contenders, who will be painted as “extremists” of the “left” or “right.”
Obama directed himself to the conditions at home and the broad opposition to U.S. aggressive wars. Much as the U.S. puts requirements on various forces abroad to participate in democracy, such as elections, Obama also again here emphasizes what is — and thus what is not — American. He said, “After a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach…” After again promoting U.S. troops ready to sacrifice, he used the example of the Navy Seals responsible for assassinating Osama bin Laden as a model for what an American is. He said the Seals were a unit that “worked together as one, depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril. That’s a lesson worth remembering — that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America — for this generation, and the next.”
The emphasis given here is that the time for debate, disagreement and division is over and what is needed is a strong union where everyone adheres to the America of the war monopolies and founding fathers and follows the “more centered course” set by the president. What of those who do not? What of those who think there is a need for renewal of democracy, with a constitution that enshrines and guarantees all the rights of the people, including the right to be the decision makers themselves? What of those who think the way forward in the U.S. is that of an anti-war government, that rejects all use of force in settling conflicts and brings all U.S. troops home as the responsible action toward world peace?
Obama is insisting that the time for debate is over. At the same time, he says, “America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.” We consider this a challenge to all those who want solutions to existing problems that favor the working class and people. Obama has put forward the content of the nation building he is calling for as a champion of the rich. Let all those seeking to move the country forward join in elaborating nation building in the image of the working class, an image that begins with the anti-war pro-social agenda of the working class.
All U.S. Troops Home Now!
On June 22, the White House defied the majority of Americans who want an end to the war in Afghanistan. Instead of announcing the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops, contractors, bases, and war dollars, Obama committed to removing only one twentieth of the U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan over the next eight months. Another 23,000 will supposedly be withdrawn just in time to influence the 2012 elections. Even if the President follows thru on this plan, nearly 170,000 U.S. soldiers and Pentagon contractors will remain in Afghanistan.
In truth, the President’s plan is not a plan to end the war in Afghanistan. It is, instead, an announcement that the U.S. was changing “strategy.” As the New York Times reported, the U.S. will be replacing the “counterinsurgency strategy” adopted 18 months ago with the kind of campaign of drone attacks, assassinations, and covert actions that the U.S. has employed in Pakistan.
At a meeting of the United National Antiwar Committee’s National Coordinating Committee, held in NYC on June 18, representatives of 47 groups voted to endorse the nonviolent civil resistance activities beginning on October 6 in Washington, D.C. and to call for nationally coordinated local actions on October 15 to protest the tenth anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. UNAC urges activists in as many cities as possible to hold marches, picket lines, teach-ins, and other events to say:
• Withdraw ALL US/NATO Military Forces, Contractors, and Bases out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya NOW!
• End drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen!
• End U.S. Aid to Israel! Hands Off Iran!
• Money for Jobs and Education, Not for War and Incarceration!
Call For International Protests to Oppose U.S./NATO War Makers
An alliance of Chicago area peace and justice organizations, together with the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC), are jointly calling for a united mass mobilization to protest the NATO and G8 Summits to be held in Chicago May 15 to 22. Permit applications were submitted for:
• Tuesday, May 15 – a national assembly to put the warmakers on trial.
• Saturday, May 19 – a major international demonstration to express broad outrage at the gathering of war makers wasting trillions of dollars on war and devastation during a time of enormous economic hardship and crisis for millions.
NATO is the US-commanded and financed 28-nation military alliance. There will also be a summit of the G-8 world powers [from the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.] The meetings are expected to draw heads of state, generals, and countless others.
At a day-long meeting in New York City on Saturday, June 18, the United National Antiwar Committee’s national coordinating committee of 69 participants, representing 47 organizations, unanimously passed a resolution to call for action at the NATO meeting.
UNAC will mount a massive united outpouring in Chicago during the NATO gathering to put forth demands opposing endless wars and calling for billions spent on war and destruction be spent instead on people’s needs for jobs, health care, housing and education.
Information that the U.S. could invade Libya in October was confirmed by several calls and e-mails shared by military personnel, some of which indicate a large-scale deployment of troops in September, media outlets report.
Several sources at the U.S. Army in Fort Hood, Texas have been sending signals about a possible large-scale U.S. land attack on Libya next October. The military information refers to additional Special Forces heading for the African country in July.
The possible transfer of army units to Libya would include the 1st Cavalry Division and other forces that would be in that country in late October and early November. The initial number of troops has been calculated at 12,000 active forces supported by another 15,000, some 30,000 troops in all.
Some of the sources include an officer with the British Special Air Service, who confirmed that U.S. rangers are already in Libya. This information, which could contain contradictory details, also corroborates the idea of a war that could be unleashed next fall, while Qaddafi continues to evade U.S. attempts to get him out of power.
A person, who identified himself as “the H specialist” and who works at the mortuary under USCENTCOM, said that some U.S. casualties have occurred in Libya. He confirmed that at least two soldiers and three civilians had been killed in combat, something that has not been reported by the media.
Geopolitical expert Dr. Webster Tarpley also said in an interview with radio journalist Alex Jones that a larger war is being planned for Libya, while there are now five U.S.-led simultaneous wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. The existing potential for an expansion of this regional conflict could lead to a Third World War scenario involving other nations like Syria, Lebanon, Iran and even Saudi Arabia, according to Tarpley.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has rejected demands that he respond to Congress for the continuity of the military action in Libya beyond the 60-day limit established by the War Powers Act. Obama had first said that the war would be finished in a few days and he described the attack as a dynamic action instead of a war.
Obama has also justified his responsibility for the U.S. armed forces under a UN mandate [...]. With some kind of significant secret in the reports, we could confirm the apparent decision by Obama to support a larger war and a long-term U.S. presence in Libya.
The NATO Ministers of Defense held a meeting on June 8 at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Among other things, they endorsed the May 30 unanimous decision to extend the bombing campaign against Libya for another 90 days as of June 27, and reiterated their aim of regime change.
Furthermore, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that “NATO stands ready to play a role, if requested and if necessary, in support of post-conflict efforts that should be initiated by the United Nations and the Contact Group on Libya.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates used the meeting to demand that NATO partners provide more funds and forces. According to news reports, Gates said Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands should increase their limited participation in noncombat operations by joining in strike missions against ground targets. Gates also pressed Germany and Poland, the two countries not participating at all militarily, to do so. News agencies report that U.S. efforts to embroil more countries in its bombing campaign in Libya won no immediate new public commitments from its allies. Currently, nine of the 28 NATO countries are involved in the bombings against Libya.
Contrary to NATO’s claims that it is protecting civilians, the Libyan Ministry of Health has reported that from the start of the U.S.-led NATO aggression on March 19 until May 26, at least 718 civilians have been killed by NATO’s attacks, including women and children, and at least 4067 have been wounded. On June 7 alone, at least 30 people were killed in Tripoli after a series of 60 missile strikes by NATO, it was reported. On June 20, 15 more civilians were killed. Thousands attended their funerals June 22 and denounced the attacks. U.S. drones play a main role in these civilian deaths.
Efforts to Find a Political Solution
Despite the disinformation by the U.S. and NATO that military intervention is the only viable solution to the crisis, a political settlement has always been possible. It is the U.S., Britain and other powers who are not interested in a political settlement because it does not serve their of aim regime change to install a government fully compliant to foreign interests, especially those of the U.S. All attempts for a ceasefire have so far been undermined by the so-called rebels acting as an instrument of these foreign powers.
Attempts to find a diplomatic solution by the African Union, China and Russia continue.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on June 8 called for a prompt ceasefire in Libya and political means to solve the crisis, Xinhua reports.
“It is a top priority for related parties to reach a ceasefire to avoid greater humanitarian disasters and solve the Libya crisis through political means including dialogue and negotiation,” Yang said while meeting with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi.
China supports the African Union’s (AU) proposal and diplomatic mediation to solve the Libya crisis. China is willing to communicate with interested parties and work with the international community to solve the crisis through political means, he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on June 9 that, “The Chinese side wants the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya to be maintained and supports the Libyan people’s right to make their own decisions regarding the future of their country.”
Chinese authorities also announced they may invite representatives of the so-called rebels, the National Transitional Council, to Beijing for further talks. Chinese authorities have already met with them twice, in Qatar and Egypt, agencies report.
For its part, Russia sent peace mediator Mikhail Margelov to Libya to meet with the leaders of the so-called rebels in Benghazi. He then met with a representative of what Russia Today referred to as Libya’s political elite, Ahmed Qaddaf Eddam, in Cairo.
After the meetings, Margelov said “both sides are well aware that the current political situation in Libya cannot be resolved by military means and the country’s revival is now on the agenda.” He also announced that the so-called rebels are ready for a possible dialogue.
Margelov did not visit Tripoli on this trip, but said he is ready to meet Qaddafi if the Colonel is ready to see him. A source in Margelov’s delegation said the Russian envoy may visit Qaddafi in late June, presenting the Libyan leader with the demands of the so-called rebels.
Regarding the role of the African Union (AU), on May 30, President of South Africa visited Tripoli to deliver the AU’s plan to not only end the war but pave the way for negotiations for a democratic constitution and elections. The plan also calls for monitoring of the situation by the international community, including the United Nations. The Libyan government accepted the proposal, as it had an earlier proposal by the AU.
A May 14 report from Afrique en ligne notes, “The AU is the only party that has worked out the road map for such a negotiated political solution. A key ingredient of the road map, necessary for the maintenance of peace and stability in the continent, is the promotion of a political dialogue between the Libyan parties in conflict.
“The road map, drawn up by the AU ad hoc high-level panel on Libya, emphasizes the need for an immediate cessation of all hostilities, dialogue between Libyan parties, an inclusive management of transitional period for the adoption and implementation of reform policies, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, political reform, justice, peace and security as well as socio-economic development. [...]
“The AU has also intensified its diplomatic push for the cessation of persistent bombing of Libya by NATO planes [...].
“While the AU road-map has been accepted by the Libyan authorities, it was rejected by the National Transitional Council in Benghazi, which has not, along with other actors in the crisis, formulated any acceptable political proposal to put a an end to the conflict.”
The AU on June 15 called on the UN Security Council to end the attacks in Libya, condemning them as war crimes, and again urged a political settlement.