A CONCRETE PROPOSAL
Costly Freedom in Afghanistan
Opposition to Charter Schools
Fight for Water
Ronald j. Morgan
Health Care Crisis Will Continue
Occupying a House Auction
Race, Gender, & Occupy
Occupied Higher Ed
Unpredicatable Life of the Occupy Movement
Zuccotti Park Press
STATE OF THE U.S.
Investing in Obama
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Costly Freedom in Afghanistan: On Morbid Wars and Logic
The Afghans are a proud people with a long and formidable history of resistance to foreign occupation. The fact that they have always prevailed, however, should not distract from the horror they routinely experience. The latest atrocious episode against Afghans took place on March 11 in the village of Balandi when accused U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales killed 17 innocent people while they were sleeping peacefully.
Balandi is located in the Panjwai District of Kandahar Province, which has seen some of the toughest resistance to the U.S.-NATO occupation in the country. Kandaharis have received a reputation for spoiling the war devised by the U.S., NATO, and their corrupt local allies. In a way, Balandi is a microcosm of Afghanistan.
When the U.S.-led bombing campaign of Afghanistan commenced in October 2001, many commentators cheered. In a strikingly unequal war—with the world’s most advanced nations attacking the world’s poorest—the U.S. wanted to teach al-Qaeda terrorists a lesson. The latter quickly disbanded and poured through neighboring borders across the region (the violent network is now being sighted in several Arab countries). Meanwhile, the Afghani people shouldered the brunt of the war. Tens of thousands have since perished in a vengeful war they had no part in creating.
Many commentators have supported the war, rationalized it, or simply pretended it was not happening. The Afghans seem to be dispensable on account of their being less “civilized” somehow. The war was presented as a “good war,” with a rationale that swayed the likes of Christopher Hitchens, who stated: “‘Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age’ was quite a favorite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant’s thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed OUT of the Stone Age” (Daily Mirror, November 2001).
Even those who were actually committed to human rights and international law found some sort of logic in the war in Afghanistan. “To my lasting regret I supported the war initially as an instance of self-defense validated by the credible fear of future attacks emanating from Afghanistan,” wrote Richard Falk, a renowned human rights scholar and UN envoy. However, he came to realize that “senseless and morbid wars produce senseless and morbid behavior” (Foreign Policy Journal, March 15).
The words “senseless” and “morbid” don’t begin to describe the dirty war in Afghanistan. A recent indication of callousness was on display in Washington, as President Barack Obama welcomed British Prime Minister David Cameron to the White House. Our alliance is “rock-solid,” Obama said. “Our world has been transformed over and over and it will be again. Yet, through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock-solid alliance between the U.S. and the UK.” The intended reference was mostly about Afghanistan, as the latest massacre of Afghan civilians prompted a call by the country’s president, Hamid Karazi, to ask the U.S. to redeploy its troops out of villages throughout the country.
“Rock-solid” means the U.S. and its allies will stick to their plan of not ending their combat operations until 2014 and after that, through a U.S.-Afghan memorandum, maintaining a permanent military presence. Considering the alarming killing rates of Afghans, the term “rock-solid” could also indicate numerous more deaths of innocent people simply because Obama doesn’t want to be seen as “soft” and inconsistent during an election year.
The original orchestrators of the Afghanistan war are waking up to the new reality. The Afghans will accept no less than a full U.S.-NATO withdrawal from their country, no matter the cost of that freedom. Empowered by an inflated sense of military superiority, the Bush and Obama administrations failed to grasp what has become a historical imperative: Afghanistan belongs to its people, who will fight to reinstate that fact over and over again.
Freedom is an absolute value. Its meaning is not diminished by war or military occupation. The moral clarity of the Afghan struggle for freedom in 2012 remains as strong as it was in 2001. What may prove ominous in future months is the fact that even the feeble excuse for war—that it was actually a “war on terror”—is hardly as ubiquitous as it once was. The war now merely exists to save face, to assert a degree of American dominance, and to arrange for some beneficial future that allows the U.S. to reap unclear gains. This lack of moral and strategic centrality is turning the war into something sadistic, strange, racist, and inhumane.
The U.S. is turning its citizens into “pathological killers” wrote Falk. “American soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters, Koran burning, and countryside patrols whose members were convicted by an American military tribunal of killing Afghan civilians for sport…. (Whatever U.S. officials say to explain all of this) has become essentially irrelevant.”
In a meeting with Karazi, an elder from Balandi asked the president: “They killed so many of our loved ones and do you have an answer why?” No one is likely to offer an answer, for pathology cannot always be explained by carefully worded diplomatic language. What is clear, however, is that the recent spree of violence and humiliation will further fuel the determination of Afghans to end yet another bloody episode of their history on their own terms. “I don’t want any compensation. I don’t want money, I don’t want a trip to Hajj (pilgrimage), I don’t want a house. I want nothing but the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand, and my demand,” said another elder (Al Jazeera, March 17).
Speaking of demands, what are the U.S. demands and objectives? Do American soldiers even know what they are fighting for or whom they are fighting against? (Bales’s victims were mostly women and children.) Former U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said in March 2003: “Freedom’s untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”
Richard Falk is right; senseless and morbid wars do produce senseless and morbid behavior. They produce bizarre logic as well.
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.