No government is legally bound to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but as people of conscience, we are bound by it. Here in the heart of the empire, we have to build an anti-war movement that demands respect for human rights.
US wars are an affront to human rights. These wars kill thousands and thousands of people, destroy whole cities, wipe out infrastructure needed for survival, and poison the environment for generations to come. There is no freedom under occupation, when people are ruled by regimes that serve foreign interests. Assassinations – carried out by drones, Marines and the CIA – ignore the rule of law. Military aid to brutal regimes puts the blood of countless Colombians, Palestinians and others on American hands. Human rights are not won by military intervention. Just the opposite.
Human rights are no excuse for war, and should never serve as a stick to beat other nations with. When war makers propose “humanitarian” intervention, we have to look for the real interests of imperialism in the conflict. The US is not neutral. Our rulers want to expand their economic, military and political power across the globe.
With war or sanctions, the US is not looking to liberate the peoples of Iran and Syria, any more than it was doing this in Viet Nam and Iraq. These countries are targets because they assert their independence from the will of Washington. Just as human rights are founded on respect for human dignity and equality, the anti-war movement must found itself on respecting the dignity and equality of nations, upholding the right to self-determination.
Even as the Egyptian people amassed in Tahrir Square, the US supported President Mubarak, because he helped them protect Israel. The same with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where human rights abuses are off the charts. So long as their governments follow the US wishes, there will be no talk of “humanitarian” intervention.
The ultimate example is Israel, where illegal settlements, assassinations, the apartheid wall, the siege of Gaza, the denial of the right of return, are all ignored by Washington. No Israeli crime against Palestine is challenged by the US, whose standing in the region depends on Israel. The US is not concerned about human rights. The US seeks only to maintain its own power.
The US government can never be a champion of human rights. More than half the world has abolished the death penalty, while here, the Supreme Court upholds the murder of innocent men like Troy Davis. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and most of these prisoners are Black and Latino. Some are held under torturous conditions of solitary confinement, like Bradley Manning. There is no respect for human rights in murder, racism and torture.
Political freedoms are also protected in the Universal Declaration, but not respected in the US. Even the Anti-War Committee became targets, our work criminalized, by FBI raids and a grand jury investigation.
According the UN, “human rights – the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly & association & to take part in government …have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political & social inequality.”
This statement points out an important truth: Human rights, and any real social change, can only be won by people’s movements. US intervention stands in the way of real justice in some places, while destroying it outright in others. As an anti-war movement in the US, we must build a movement that stands in solidarity with the peoples of the world, in their struggles for liberation, and against every war for empire.
Meredith Aby of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee delivered this speech at the Iran in the Crosshairs event on October 19, 2012
It is important that we are here today. As our speakers have explained the threat of war with Iran is REAL. I would argue the war has already begun with the sanctions that are already in place. But the reality is people’s lives are at stake.
Representative Ellison today articulated the atmosphere in Washington. We have a critical role to play in changing the atmosphere in Washington. Minnesotans as a population are an overwhelmingly peaceful people who are very war weary. We don’t want another war. We remember the lessons from the war on Iraq. We don’t buy into the weapons of mass destruction propaganda. Despite this the majority of the MN Congressional delegation have not been vocal in opposing the steps towards war with Iran and they won’t be unless we make this an issue they have to respond to. We need to mobilize the constituencies of WAMM, Vets for Peace, the MN Alliance of Peacemakers, the MN Peace Action Coalition, and the Anti-War Committee to pressure our representatives in Washington and demand that they advocate for peace with Iran.
When we have these conversations with members of the peace movement and with members of Congress it is important to not just speak about peace in general terms. Everyone supports peace – or claims to. Instead we need to be clear we support a policy of non-intervention. The US should not be intervening in Iran. That means not using Israel as a proxy, that means not sending in spies or supporting armed groups to kill Iranian scientists, that means not threatening the use of force against Iran, that means not supporting sanctions in lieu of or leading up to war.
We need to challenge the racist and imperialist notion that the US gets to decide what will make the world safe when in fact the US is the most dangerous country in the world. We need to challenge the notion that other countries don’t need or deserve nuclear weapons (regardless of whether we even like nuclear weapons) when in reality it is the US and its ally Israel that terrorize and intimidate countries and make them want nuclear weapons so that they will be safe. The world would be safer if the US didn’t have nuclear weapons, if the US didn’t threaten other countries, if the US wasn’t an occupier.
This is not an easy task. Currently there is a growing interest in finger pointing at other countries, which is encouraged by leaders of both parties, but we in the peace movement have an important role. We need to be the voice of conscience for the US. We need to be the voice of solidarity. We need to be a part of changing the conversation from blaming Iran to holding up a mirror to the US.
We need to be a voice for peace and justice. We cannot be passive. We cannot assume that our leaders will “do the right thing”. The threat of war and the impact of sanctions already in place on Iran are very real. When we are silent we send a message that the status quo is acceptable and we know that there is a real possibility of war and we can’t be quiet about this. Please think about what you or your organization can do with this information from this panel today. We need people to show an increasing level of opposition to war with Iran. This can be expressed by coming to the bridge on Wednesday, organizing a meeting with your member of Congress, calling for a call in day to Congress, organizing a street protest, writing letters to the editor in opposition to war, going to campaign events and asking questions about what they will do to stop war threats and sanctions on Iran. We need you all to raise the demand of no war with Iran on a national and state level. Thank you for your help with this.
The people of Iran are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!
Posted on October 20, 2012 by Fight Back! News
Minneapolis, MN – More than 175 people came to the event “Iran in the Crosshairs” on Oct. 19 to hear from anti-war activists and Congressman Keith Ellison (Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota) about how to stop the U.S. march to war.
Margaret Sarfehjooy with Women Against Military Madness laid out the context of U.S. war threats and sanctions on Iran. “Our crippling sanctions on Iran have already resulted in deaths caused by lack of medicine, according to an official from the Tehran Thalassemia Association. The Iranian Hemophilia Society announced in August that ‘the lives of tens of thousands of children are being endangered by the lack of proper drugs caused by international economic sanctions.’”
Representative Keith Ellison spoke about the atmosphere of war in the U.S. Congress and about the pressure he is under to support war. He explained that anyone who proposes a sanctions bill gets a hearing and that everyone in Congress is pressured to vote for any kind of sanctions.
Ellison has voted against sanctions on Iran twice and he explained his votes. He didn’t promise to vote against sanctions on Iran in the future, but he did say, “It’s easier to vote no if you know you have the backing of your community.” He did promise, “I’m not going to vote for sanctions that will make it harder for the U.S. to talk.”
Ellison concluded that he thinks the U.S. is on a path to war with Iran and that he sees pushing sanctions as leading the U.S. to war.
Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee concluded the event with an impassioned appeal for action, “We need to be a voice for peace and justice. We cannot be passive. We cannot assume that our leaders will do the right thing. The threat of war and the impact of sanctions already in place on Iran are very real. When we are silent we send a message that the status quo is acceptable and we know that there is a real possibility of war and we can’t be quiet about this. We need to raise the demand of no war with Iran on the national and state level.”
The Minnesota Peace Project, the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Women Against Military Madness sponsored the event.
Speech by April Knutson, WAMM and Haiti Justice Committee member, on Haiti and “Humanitarian intervention” at the MN Peace Action Coalition event “Is US Military Intervention Ever Humanitarian?” on August 22, 2012
President Jean-Bertrande Aristide : “Haiti’s exceptional poverty is the result of an exceptional history—one that extracted equally exceptional wealth.”
Haitians were the first and only people in world history to emancipate themselves from slavery and win their independence from an imperial power at the same time. The slave rebellion began in 1791 with a voodoo ceremony in the fugitive slave community in the mountains above Cap Haitien, the colonial capital. Soon all the slaves were in revolt against their French plantation owners. Toussaint Louverture, a former slave, took command of the rebellion and named himself governor of the colony—recognized by the revolutionary government in Paris, which also abolished slavery in all French possessions.
The French colony of Haiti, known as Saint Domingue, produced more wealth than all other French overseas possessions combined, and more than all British possessions in the New World combined. Three-fourths of the world’s sugar came from Haiti plus most of the coffee, rum, cotton, and indigo.
When Napoleon came to power, he was determined to win back this lucrative land. He re-established slavery in all French colonies and sold Louisiana to the United States to finance the largest naval expedition in French history to retake Haiti. Louisiana was of course much more than Louisiana—it was the Louisiana Purchase, explored by Lewis and Clarke, that more than doubled the size of the United States.
The French naval expedition sailed to Haiti, kidnapped Toussaint Louverture, sending him to a prison in the French Alps. This kidnapping was repeated in 2004, when French, U.S. and Canadian forces joined together to kidnap democratically elected President Aristide.
But the kidnapping of Toussaint Louverture did not derail the Haitian revolution. Dessalines assumed command of the self-emancipated slaves and defeated the French forces in November of 1803. On January 1, 1804, Dessalines proclaimed Haiti an independent country, ripping the white strip out of the French tricolor flag. The name Haiti was the name for the country that the indigenous people had given to the land, before Columbus landed there in 1493. Somehow, although almost all of the indigenous people were wiped out by the Spanish, the name was passed down to the African peoples who were brought to the island as slaves.
The defeat of the French was seen by the imperial powers and by the newly formed United States, still ½ slave holding, as an inexcusable insult to the doctrine of white supremacy and the Enlightenment project. Undeveloped, uncultured peoples should welcome the civilizing mission of the West. As Edouard Glissant has said, “The West is not a place, it is a project.” No country recognized Haiti. France imposed a total embargo of the island, eagerly supported by all other European countries, and of course, the United States.
France asked Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs==compensation for the land and the slaves they had lost. In 1825, Haiti finally agreed to pay that sum in order to break the blockade. President Aristide calculated that that sum would be $21.7 Billion in 2004 currency and demanded that France pay that sum back to Haiti. That is why France, just after their fierce opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq less than a year earlier, cooperated with the U.S. and Canada in the kidnapping of Aristide on February 29, 2004.
Even though more than 70% of the Haitian population is illiterate, every Haitian knows this history. They also know that the United States Marines occupied their country from 1915 to 1934, trained an army that later defended the brutal dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier and his son Baby Doc from 1957 to 1986, with financial support from the United States. Haitians also know that all the so-called natural disasters that have devastated their country are not just natural, but social, economic, and political disasters a long time in the making.
Before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti suffered torrential floods from Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004. As many as 2000 people died in the floods and mudslides in Gonaives on the west coast of Haiti, north of Port-au-Prince. The same storm hit Cuba and no one died. Let me quote from the Los Angeles Times: “The torrents of water that raged down onto Gonaives are testimony to an ecological disaster—and very much a man-made one. French colonizers destroyed tens of thousands of acres of virgin forest in the 1600s to plant the cane that made Haiti the world’s largest sugar producer. More wood was cut to fuel the sugar mills. Entire forests were shipped to Europe to make furniture. Deforestation continued during the centuries as, increasingly pressed for income, farmers chopped trees to make and sell charcoal.”
The earthquake of January 12, 2010, that destroyed Haiti’s capital and several towns near Port-au-Prince, was of a magnitude of 7. 0. Just six weeks later, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit the west coast of Chile. 521 people died in Chile; 316,000 people died in Haiti. The horrendous death toll in Haiti was the result of political, economic, and social policies that produced shoddy construction, crowding of thousands of people in make-shift housing in some of the largest slums in the world, ineffective emergency services, understaffed and ill-equipped hospitals.
And yet there were U.N. Occupation Forces on the island who had been there since the kidnapping of Aristide in 2004. What were they doing there? What did they do after the earthquake? As Amy Wilentz wrote in 2011, “The U.N.’s mandate is only to stabilize, not improve, so it’s just a repressive force. With their millions of dollars, the troops have built nothing for the people under their control—only U.N. bases, U.N. commissaries, U.N restaurants, U.N landing pads.”
And what did the U.S. troops do, who took over the international airport in Port-au-Prince hours after the earthquake and refused for days to allow planes from around the world carrying relief and emergency workers to land. As Ezili Danto wrote in The Progressive in March of 2010, “As much as the U.S. media and the Pentagon wanted footage of U.S. soldiers rescuing Haitians, the people that could get saved got saved mostly by Haitians frantically using their bare hands to dig through the rubble and lift pulverized concrete in the immediate 48 hours after the earthquake.”
The situation has not changed. In 2011 Haitian President René Préval addressed the U.N. General Assembly. “We need bulldozers, not tanks. Tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers should have given way to bulldozers, engineers.” He went on to say, “Instability in Haiti is basically due to underdevelopment—in other words, unsatisfied elementary socioeconomic rights.”
Haiti’s underdevelopment has been a long-term, conscious policy of the imperial powers which would not let Haiti succeed, who would not let Haitians control their own destiny. The U.S. government allocated $379 million to so-called disaster relief in the weeks immediately following the earthquake. Each American dollar breaks down like this, according to the Associated Press: 42cents for disaster assistance, 32 cents for U.S. military aid, 9 cents for food, 9 cents to transport the food, 5 cents for paying Haitian survivors for recovery efforts, and just less than one cent to the Haitian government. That biggest chunk, 42%, did not go to Haitian agencies or organizations, but to USAID and U.S.- friendly NGOs.
The United States did not even formally recognize Haiti as an independent country until 1862. Since then the U.S. has occupied Haiti and supported brutal regimes which have made Haiti safe and stable for U.S. corporate investment and estranged from her communist neighbor, Cuba. The United States has overthrown democratic governments and decimated popular movements which were trying to improve the lives of the Haitian people.
On February 13, 2010, just a month after the earthquake, more than 50 organizations representing grassroots sectors met in Port-au-Prince to develop their political, economic, and social priorities and to make their voices heard. The declaration from this meeting read in part: “ We have decided to launch a national and international campaign to bring forth another vision of how to redevelop this country, a vision based on people-to-people solidarity to develop the opportunity now facing this country to raise up another Haiti. We want to build a social force which can establish a reconstruction plan where the fundamental problems of the people take first priority. These include housing, environment, food, education, literacy, work, and health for all; a plan to wipe out exploitation, poverty, and social and economic inequality and a plan to construct a society which is based on social justice.” (As reported by Beverly Bell)
Speech by Linda Hoover at the MN Peace Action Coalition event “Is US Military Intervention Ever Humanitarian?” on August 22, 2012
Greetings and, once again, welcome to this event. I’ve taken my invitation to speak on Syria & Libya as an invite to propose a geo-political analysis.
In the early 1990’s Bush senior announce that the U.S. planned for a new world order. For Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa this has been a U.S. lead destabilization campaign meant to disrupt the energy routes to Europe, India, Japan and South Korea. In the late 1990’s Clinton led the balkanization of Yugoslavia.
Resource wars could leave the U.S. watching from the western hemisphere before stepping in to claim the economic benefits of devastating wars.
The U.S. sponsored seize of Syria is part of its attempt to divide Eurasia and to maintain its statusas the sole superpower. The working class in Turkey and Saudi Arabia are and will be used as cannon fodder, as they were in Libya. They are either in Syria or amassed along the border. The U.S. strategy is to turn the area from North Africa and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asian, and India into a black hole of fighting. They want to balkanize Eurasia. Some say this balkanization, or the breaking up of nation states, is moving large sections of the world toward barbarism.
Samir Amin, Egyptian born scholar and activist, says that the main struggle in the world today is between countries that need their resources to modernize and the imperialist countries that need control of the resources to maintain their economic supremacy .
A country that chooses to use its natural resources to build its own economy, even its a capitalist economy, will end up in a conflict with the U.S.—examples are Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Libya was balkanized not only because it has water. More importantly, according to Amin…the U. S. needs to occupy a place in Africa as a military command. Today the command has to be based in Stuttgart!). The African Union refused to accept it, and until now no African country had dared to do so. A U.S. lackey in Libya would surely comply with all the demands of Washington and its NATO lieutenants. Upon occupation of Libya, the U.S. sent in the military, the IMF and the World Bank. It forced a so-called free market and is imposing a western style dictatorship it calls democracy.
The goal of toppling the government in Syria is to balkanize the country by partitioning it into four regions and to get closer to toppling the government in Iran.
Iran is the stronger regional power opposing U.S. domination. Launching an outright war using nuclear weapons against Iran has been on the drawing board since at least 2005. Recall that Iran has the world’s third largest know reserve of oil—behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
This scenario, could be demoralizing. Yet, it doesn’t have to be.
Amin argues that the nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (who make up 80% of the human race) are in the second wave of anti-imperialist struggles. That once the U.S. working class is deprived of the advantages of the money collected by the imperialists that we will be more capable of forming ourselves into a block actively opposing imperialism.
A great portion of the U.S. budget, as well as the great amounts of wealth stolen from other places around the world, goes to fund the military so that it can stop other countries from becoming economic competitors. Large sections of the world’s working class , including in the U.S., are experiencing extreme poverty and dislocation. Whole countries are being returned to pre-industrialized conditions, with no regular running water, sewer systems, electricity, hospitals, or functioning schools. These people are considered part of the reserve labor force. Sections of the U.S. such as Detroit, East St. Louis, Watts, and the reservations have decades of experience knowing what it means to be part of the labor force that is not needed. It is estimated that 1 of every 7 people in the world suffers from hunger.
We in the most advanced imperialist country need to take our place (as Amin says) in the great movement of liberation and carry out the ideological battles necessary to win U.S. workers and others to anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggles around the world. We must identify and speak directly to possible allies. We must expose the crimes of U.S. imperialists and their military forces as a violation of the interests of the broad masses in this country who oppose these wars. We must carry out our own propaganda and educational campaign to show the falsification of information used to trick Americans into supporting the take over of other people and their resources. We must support the fundamental democratic principle of the right of the nations to self-determination.
We can follow in the tradition of anti-imperialist, anti-war Russian activist of the early 1900s They said:
Amin argues that the so-called “international community” does not exist. It amounts to the U.S. embassy, followed automatically by those of Europe.”
So, we must continually expose how the lies about supporting human rights and rebel forces are a violation of the interests of the working class. The sham elections hosted by the major parties in the U.S .ignore the anti-war sentiments of the majority of us who opposed the wars against Iraq, Libya and Syria and we oppose a war against Iran. In addition, the massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the capitalist class is a violation of our interests and our very survival.
Regardless of what the government spokespeople and the bourgeois media say, the majority of Americans already stand in solidarity with the victims of U.S. aggression.
We must demand that our basic democratic right to stand in solidarity with the victims be recognized with the total and immediate with-drawl of all occupying forces. Anything less is tramping on OUR fundamental right of self-determination. We must help all Americans understand this contradiction.
I believe, along with Amin, that this trampling of fundamental rights is leading the world toward barbarism, and that the only solution is socialism. You do not need to agree with me to participate in MPAC.
The Minnesota Peace Action Coalition is just that—a coalition. People participate in the coalition as members of an organization or as individuals. Some folks are pacifists, some believe that armed struggle may be a necessary reaction to violence initiated by the system. People work in the political arena, in their professional/religious/labor/civic organizations, and in organizing street demonstrations and forums. The thing that binds us is that we oppose the U.S. interference in the affairs of other nations and we support the fundamental democratic principle of the right of nations to self-determination. That includes the democratic right of the majority of Americans to have our anti-war sentiments recognized with the total and immediate with-drawl of all U.S. occupying forces.
If you are interested in more information, May Day has books for sale and you might check out the website globalresearch.ca
This speech was given by Jess Sundin at the Forum on “Humanitarian Intervention” at Mayday Bookstore on August 22, 2012
On October 9, 2001, when the US launched the invasion of Afghanistan, it was widely understood as revenge, a kind of pay back, for the attacks of September 11. The Bush Administration’s policy was to treat the nation and government of Afghanistan as equivalent to Al Qaeda, who they held responsible for the attacks.The US claimed its goal was to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking al-Qaeda members to be put on trial, to destroy the organization of al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
According to Washington Post-AP 8/21: “The war drags on even though al-Qaida has been largely driven out of Afghanistan and its charismatic leader Osama bin Laden is dead — slain in a U.S. raid on his Pakistani hideout last year….Unlike Iraq, victory in Afghanistan seemed to come quickly. Kabul fell within weeks of the U.S. invasion in October 2001. The hardline Taliban regime was toppled with few U.S. casualties.”
If measured against the stated aims, the war in Afghanistan should have been one of the shortest in US history. Not the longest. Of course, the real measure is not in the stated aims of the initial invasion, but in the real US interests in Afghanistan: Economics and geo-political power.
In the realm of economics, we find that Afghanistan is yet another war for oil. This is documented in the transcript from a February 12, 1998, hearing before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, of the Committee on International Relations. According to Robert Gee, then Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Energy:
“The U.S. Government’s position is that we support multiple pipelines… The Unocal pipeline is among those pipelines that would receive our support under that policy. I would caution that while we do support the project, the U.S. Government has not at this point recognized any governing regime of the transit country, one of the transit countries, Afghanistan, through which that pipeline would be routed. But we do support the project.”
The occupation government of Hamid Karzai approved the pipeline project in May 2002.
Of course, it is not simply a question of oil today, but also a question of regional power tomorrow. We cannot underestimate the importance of having political allies and US military bases inserted between Iran, the former Soviet republics, Pakistan and India, and nearby China. This is absolutely essential for US power plays not only in the region but on a global level. The Taliban was hostile to US interests, and did not welcome foreign military bases on their land. Today, there are five US military bases in Afghanistan.
This was highlighted today in a PressTV interview with Pakistani strategic affairs analyst Syed Tariq Pirzadah: “These are the goals but at the same time it seems to be that now that the United States has the clear goal of maintaining its military bases with 20 to 30 thousand troops now staying about as long as [until] 2024 that is 12 years from now. So the goal seems very much expanded, the goal seems to encompass a US interest that would like to see US influence stay in Afghanistan, an influence that can control Pakistan and of course the other areas in the region.”
Considering all of this, it is not surprising that the US conflict with the Afghanistan began long before September 11, 2001. In August 1998, up to 80 cruise missiles were fired by the U.S. at Afghanistan and Sudan. In January 1999, the UN withdrew its international staff from Afghanistan, after one of their staff was killed in the aftermath of a US strike on bin Laden-run camps inside Afghanistan. For years, the US had been fueling Afghanistan’s civil conflicts, attempting to destabilize and defeat the Taliban. The events of September 11 served as a convenient cover for the US to wage all-out war and reshape Afghanistan in their image.
This is how Afghanistan has become the longest war in US history. When the initial shock of 9/11 faded, and the stated goals for the initial invasion were largely accomplished, something more was needed to rally public support for (or numb public opposition to) the war effort.
Last year, Madeleine Bunting wrote in the UK Guardian:
…over the course of a few weeks in 2001, a war of revenge was reframed as a war for human rights in Afghanistan, and in particular the rights of women. It was a narrative to justify war that proved remarkably powerful.
Laura Bush, the then first lady, took over the president’s weekly White House radio talk the week before Thanksgiving in 2001, and banged the drums for war. She conflated the battle for women’s rights and the war on terror: “the brutal oppression of women is the central goal of the terrorists”, she claimed. She said that “civilised people” had an “obligation to speak out” across the world against what was happening to Afghan women and the “world that the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us”. She concluded with “the fight against terrorism is about the fight for the rights and dignity of women”.
The reality is that the new government in Afghanistan has failed to extend democratic rights to women. Quite the opposite. In April in this year, the new Karzai government approved new legislation that limited guardianship of children to fathers and paternal grandfathers, that a wife could not leave her house without the permission of her husband, that women could only inherit moveable property, and that the wife is “bound to preen for her husband, as and when he desires.” A wife is allowed to work outside the house “unless her work affects the interest of the family in a negative way.”
The fact is, war cannot liberate women. In reality, that was never a real goal of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
By the same token, democracy cannot be delivered at gunpoint. This is highlighted by the corruption and scandal that have plagued the Karzai government from day one. This was highlighted in the 2009 presidential election, with fraud on a scale that makes George W’s election in 2000 look squeaky-clean. Karzai himself said:
“There were irregularities. There must’ve also been fraud committed, no doubt. But the election was good and fair and worthy of praise, not of scorn, which the election received from the international media. That makes me very unhappy. That rather makes me angry…”
No matter how unhappy he claimed to be during that interview on Good Morning America, his regime continues to receive criticism for ongoing corruption. None of this brings our own elected officials to question the so-called democracy manufactured by the Pentagon for the people of Afghanistan. No invading foreign army can deliver a government that will be truly embraced by an occupied people. And this is why the war continues, with an American soldier being killed every day in Afghanistan.
To answer the central question for this forum: Can military intervention ever be humanitarian? No.
I want to conclude my remarks by addressing our tasks, what we in the anti-war movement need to be doing.
First, the war in Afghanistan is far from over, and we must continue building a movement to oppose it. Afghanistan has been in the news this week, and we should seize this as an opportunity to educate people about what’s really going on. Actions like the one planned for October 7, to mark the anniversary of the war, are very important.
Second, we must oppose every proposed intervention, and doubt any claim of humanitarian intentions. That goes not only in Afghanistan, but also Iran, Syria or anywhere.
Finally, the anti-war movement has to hold onto the lessons we learned in Iraq. We learned that intervention is a slippery slope – the first invasion, was followed by more than a decade of deadly sanctions. We learned that sanctions are inhumane – more than a million and a half Iraqis, mostly children, died due to sanctions. And Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State at the time, said that price was worth it. There is nothing humanitarian in that. And we learned that the occupation has failed to provide for even the most basic human needs of Iraqi people. We need to pass on the lesson that every intervention will fail in the same way.
We broadcast from Chicago, site of the largest NATO summit in the organization’s six-decade history. On Sunday, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as members of Afghans for Peace, led a peace march of thousands of people. Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. We hear the soldiers’ voices as they return their medals one by one from the stage. “I’m here to return my Global War on Terror Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan,” said Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. “I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe.” [includes rush transcript]
Speech by Meredith Aby, Anti-War Committee member, at the NATO protest of over 15,000 people on May 20, 2012 in Chicago.
As the token Minnesotan speaking from the stage today I’d like to give a shout out to all the Minnesotans at the rally and all the out of staters!
The FBI came after many of us in the Minneapolis anti-war movement because we were the main organizers of the last big anti-war protest in this country – the RNC 2008. They raided my home and have tried to criminalize solidarity to Palestine and Colombia.
Well, they haven’t silenced us, or Carlos Montes, or any of you. Instead, they’ve made it all too clear how important our work is. And here we all are. We remain committed to opposing the wars of the US and NATO, and to supporting the struggles of oppressed people around the world.
We must be here so we can march to the NATO Summit. The people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, and Iran should not be in the crosshairs of NATO. NATO should not get to decide whether the people of the world die or suffer under occupation.
We must be here. This is an undemocratic and secretive meeting and the only way we get a voice is in the streets. We have raise our voices at McCormick Place so they will hear our opposition to war and greed!
We must be here to stand with our sisters and brothers from across the US and the world to say we oppose NATO’s wars for the 1%.
From Afghanistan to the Middle East, we demand justice, we demand peace!
A speech given by Thistle Parker-Hartog representing the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression at the Immigrant Rights rally on May 1, 2012 at Powderhorn Park. Thistle, who is also a member of the Anti-War Committee, drew attention to the connections between the government attacks on activists like herself and the everyday repression of immigrant communities in the U.S. Her speech is below in English first and then in Spanish.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression stands in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers. One of our number, Carlos Montes, has been a leader in the Chicano movement for decades. And in retribution for his dedication to fighting for immigrant rights, he was raided and arrested on false charges at his home in L.A. one year ago. His trial starts May 15, and it is urgent that each one of us contact the prosecutor to demand he drop the charges against Carlos. You should also know about Joe Callahan, who for years has done solidarity work around Central America and Cuba. In a ludicrous turn of events he was arrested in Canada for trafficking immigrants. He also needs your support before his next court date in Canada. Fliers are being distributed about both Joe and Carlos’ case, along with the phone number for the prosecutor.
Those of us who have been subpoenaed and intimidated by the U.S. government were singled out because of our work in solidarity with people our government has oppressed in other countries and here in the United States. We understand how U.S. policies of war and free trade abroad create the need for immigrants to come here seeking a better life. And we understand the hypocrisy of the United States then criminalizing and rejecting those very people fleeing the devastation created by the US in their home countries. Those of us under investigation are receiving a small taste of the apprehension and foreboding immigrants live with every day, that the next knock on the door might be the police coming to take us away, that at any point a court order might descend to tear our families apart. But we will not lay down the struggle to defend our right to dissent. And we will continue to stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers in support of the struggle for immigrant justice.
La Comité para Parar la Represión del FBI está en solidaridad con nuestras hermanas y nuestros hermanos inmigrantes. Uno de nosotros, Carlos Montes, ha sido un líder en el movimiento Chicano por décadas. Como castigo por su dedicación a luchar por los derechos de inmigrantes y otros, hace un año se hizo una redada de su hogar en Los Ángeles y se le arrestó a Carlos, poniéndole cargos falsos. Su juicio empieza el 15 de mayo, y es urgente que cada uno comuniquemos con el fiscal para exigirle retirar los cargos. También deben saber de Joe Callahan, quien ha trabajado en solidaridad con los centroamericanos y cubanos por años. Por ridículo, se le arrestó a él en Canadá por traficar a inmigrantes. Él también necesita su apoyo antes de su próxima corte en Canadá. Se distribuyen hojas informativas sobre los casos de Joe y de Carlos, junto con el número telefónico del fiscal.
Los que hemos sido citados e intimidados por el gobierno de los Estados,– estamos señalados por el trabajo que hemos hecho en solidaridad con los pueblos oprimidos por nuestro gobierno en otros países, y aquí en los Estados. Entendemos como las políticas norteamericanas de guerra y de comercio libre crean la necesidad para que inmigrantes vengan a buscar una vida mejor. Y entendemos la hipocresía de los Estados en criminalizar y rechazar a las meras personas huyéndose del lio hecho por los Estados en sus países. Y los que estamos bajo investigación ahora vivimos una pequeña parte de la aprehensión y miedo con los cuales viven inmigrantes cada día, que la próxima persona que toque la puerta será la policía aquí para llevarnos, que en cualquier momento una orden judicial pueda aparecerse para destruir a nuestras familias. Pero no renunciamos a la lucha para defender a nuestros derechos a disensión. Y seguimos al lado de nuestras hermanas y nuestros hermanos inmigrantes en la lucha para la justica. La lucha sigue!