Posted on December 13, 2012 by OpEdNews
By David Swanson (about the author)
Veterans For Peace urgently calls on the United States and NATO to cease all military activity in Syria, halt all U.S. and NATO shipments of weapons, and abandon all threats to further escalate the violence under which the people of Syriaare suffering.
NATO troops and missiles should be withdrawn from Turkey and other surrounding nations. U.S. ships should exit the Mediterranean.
Veterans For Peace is an organization of veterans who draw upon their military experiences in working for the abolition of war. We have not entered into this work without consideration of many situations similar to the current one in Syria.
Peace negotiations, while very difficult, will be easier now, and will do more good now, than after greater violence. Those negotiations must come, and delaying them will cost many men, women, and children their lives.
No good can come from U.S. military intervention in Syria. The people of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and dozens of other nations in Latin America and around the world have not been made better off by U.S. military intervention.
While experts have great doubt that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons, while accounts of past use are dishonest, and while claims that such use is imminent are unsubstantiated and highly suspicious, the most likely way to provoke such use is the threat of an escalated foreign intervention. Required now by practicality, morality, and the law is de-escalation.
The possession or use of one kind of weapon cannot justify the use of another. Were the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians, the United States would not be justified in using other kinds of weapons against Syrians. The United States possesses chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons, and possesses and uses cluster bombs, white phosphorus, depleted uranium weapons, mines, and weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles — none of which justifies military attacks on the U.S. government.
The United States’ own military actions kill far more civilians than combatants. The United Statesfacilitates and tolerates governments’ abuses of their own people in nations around the world and around Western Asia, notably in Bahrain – not to mention in Syria, to which the United States has in recent years sent victims to have them tortured. The world does not believe U.S. motivations for intervention in Syria are humanitarian. The motivation has been too openly advertised as the overthrow of a government too friendly with the government of Iran and insufficiently subservient to NATO. Syria has been on a Pentagon list for regime change since at least 2001.
The threat of war, like the use of war, is a violation of the U.N. Charter, to which both the United Statesand Syria are parties. War without Congressional declaration is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Another U.S. war will not only breed hostility. It will directly arm and supply those already hostile to the U.S. government.
How many times must we watch the same mistakes repeated?
The options are not limited to doing nothing or escalating warfare. Nonviolent resistance to tyranny has proven far more likely to succeed, and the successes far longer lasting. Nations and individuals outside of Syria should do what they can to facilitate the nonviolent pursuit of justice.
But Syria’s struggles should be controlled by the Syrian people without military intervention. The first step is a cease-fire and de-escalation. The U.S. military and NATO can assist only by departing.
Posted on December 8, 2012 by FightBack! News
Jess Sundin at Human Rights Day rally (FightBack! News)
Minneapolis, MN – About 75 people rallied here Dec. 8, the weekend before International Human Rights Day, to say no to the U.S. using human rights to justify wars and sanctions.
Jess Sundin, of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee told the crowd, “With war or sanctions, the U.S. 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.”
Sundin emphasized, “The U.S. government can never be a champion of human rights.”
Sarah Martin, of the Women Against Military Madness Middle East Committee stated, “The objective of the U.S.-NATO alliance is to ultimately replace the independent secular Syrian state with a complaint regime. Syria has fiercely supported self-determination for Palestine. It is a strong ally of Hezbollah and Iran. It does not do the bidding of Israel or the U.S. Thrusting Syria into helpless chaos is part of the preparation of an eventual war against Iran.”
Sundin and Martin are among the Twin Cities anti-war activists who were raided by the FBI and called before a Chicago grand jury investigating “material support of terrorism.” Mick Kelly, who was also raided by the FBI, denounced the federal investigation into anti-war and international solitary activities as violation of human rights and an attempt to criminalize solidarity.
Misty Rowan, of Anti-War Committee speaking at Human Rights Day protest (FightBack! News)
The event, which included a ten-block march thought the surrounding neighborhood, was organized by the Anti-War Committee. Endorsers included the Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Communities United Against Police Brutality, the Joe Callahan Support Committee, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, National Lawyers Guild (MN Chapter), U of MN Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 and Women Against Military Madness.
For Immediate Release: 3/14/2012
For Information: Andy Thayer, 773.209.1187, CCAWR@aol.com, Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8)
Joe Iosbaker (773.301.0109, email@example.com, Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8)
Activists to Announce
Change of Plans
For Protest v. G8-NATO
CHICAGO — New plans for the only currently permitted march to go to the doorstep of this city’s NATO summit May 20-21 will be announced 10 AM Thursday at a press conference to be held on the southwest corner of Daley Plaza (Washington Blvd. & Clark Street), site of opening rally for the May protest.
While activists see the moving of the G8 summit to the mountains of western Maryland as an attempt to blunt the protests to be held here, most reports indicate that activists are instead taking confidence from what they see as a victory over an institution that’s so unpopular that it once again shuns holding its meetings in major urban areas.
“The removal of the G8 from Chicago shows the value of protests,” said Pat Hunt, a spokesperson for the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (www.CANG8.org). “If protest can score such a victory, then people draw the logical conclusion that even more protest can score additional victories.”
“With the Sunday murder of 16 Afghan civilians by one or more U.S. service members and the unprovoked Israeli air strikes on Gaza which have killed 21 over the past few days, the occupation policies promoted by NATO and its allies are showing why May’s protests in Chicago are going to the focus of the progressive movement this spring,” said Joe Iosbaker, also of CANG8.
Other representatives at the press conference will include:
** Mark Banks representing Occupy Chicago
** Mary Dean, who recently visited Afghanistan as part of a Voices For Creative Non-Violence delegation
** Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines and Vice Chair, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
** The Right Reverend Felixberto Calang, IRI, Supreme Council of Bishops of the Philippine Independent Church and Convener, Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao
** Ms. Angelina Bisuna-Ipong, former political prisoner in The Philippines and author, Garden Behind Bars
** Jan Rodolfo, RN, who is the Midwest Director of the National Nurses Union, which is hosting another anti-G8/NATO march on Friday, May 18
** Darrius Lightfoot, Fearless Leading by the Youth and Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP)
** Nick Egnatz of Northwest Indiana Veterans for Peace
** Joe Iosbaker and Andy Thayer representing the Logistics Committee of CANG8.
# # #
Please sign an online petition sponsored by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda. Join us in demanding:
- The city of Chicago grant permits for protests during the May NATO/G8 summit.
- An end to threats of mass arrests of protesters by Chicago Police Superintendent McCarthy
David Sole of Detroit (top) helps pass out literature at the event with anti war and peace groups meeting to discuss their strategy for protesting the G8 meeting in Chicago next May. The group met at Kent College of Law , on Sunday, August 28, 2011. Sole is with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune / August 28, 2011)
Published on August 28, 2011 by the Chicago Tribune
By Andy Grimm, Tribune reporter
Activists are planning massive demonstrations to coincide with the G8 and NATO summits in Chicago scheduled for spring 2012, with crowds of protesters likely to reach “tens of thousands,” organizers said.
More than 160 members representing about 50 groups from across the U.S. and Canada gathered Sunday at the Chicago-Kent College of Law to discuss strategy and start planning two large-scale protests and a march that during the week-long joint summit, which is set for mid-May.
The G8 and similar economic forums have for more than a decade drawn thousands of demonstrators. With the world economy in turmoil and NATO leaders set to discuss Afghanistan war policy, the joint summit should draw protesters on behalf of a wide array of causes, activists said.
Chicago could see crowds of protesters similar to the 35,000 or so activists who descended on St. Paul, Minn., during the 2008 Republican National Convention, said Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator for the New York-based United National Anti-War Committee.
“With the war (and) the global economy as they are, and the (U.S. presidential) election in full swing next spring, I think it will have the potential to be bigger than the protests in Minnesota,” said Lombardo, a retired New York state government worker who has participated in demonstrations since the 1960s. “Those issues are not going to go away (by May) and Chicago is a larger city than some of the other places they’ve had these summits recently.”
Chicago activist Joe Iosbaker, who helped organize the RNC protests in 2008 and whose home was raided by FBI agents last October, said he applied for permits to hold demonstrations in Daley Plaza and Federal Plaza downtown the day the White Houseannounced the city would host the summits.
So far, he has not heard anything about the status of the permits from the county about using Daley Plaza or the agency that controls Federal Plaza. City officials also have said organizers will not be able to apply for a permit for a planned march through the city until the first of the year, Iosbaker said.
“They told me they would get back to me in two weeks to let me know at least that we were in the process of getting the permit,” Iosbaker said. “That was nine weeks ago.”
Local activist Andy Thayer said demonstrations will be peaceful, despite a recent statement by police Superintendent Garry McCarthy that the department is preparing for “mass arrests” of protestors during the summit.
The remarks were especially galling given Chicago’s mixed history of dealing with large demonstrations, Thayer said. Police in 2003 arrested about 900 people who marched to protest the start of the Iraq war, with some protesters held for up to 36 hours. The arrests prompted a class-action lawsuit, Thayer said.
“Statements like that from McCarthy have a chilling effect,” he said. “The city has a history of attacks on civil rights.”
Iosbaker noted that events like the G8 and World Trade Organization summits have seen some violence in their host cities. Iosbaker attributed the clashes to aggressive police, and said his group is planning to do nothing to disrupt the city or the conferences.
“What we want is a safe, permitted, legal protest,” Iosbaker said. “Something that parents feel safe bringing their babies in strollers to, and we want our voice to be heard.”
© 2011 The Chicago Tribune
Published on August 26, 2011 by the Associated Press
By TAMMY WEBBER
When the White House announced next spring’s G8 and NATO summits would be held in Chicago, city officials weren’t the only ones who got busy: Activists opposed to everything from war to globalization began planning protests during the gathering of some of the world’s most powerful leaders.
With nine months to go, dozens of groups will gather Sunday to organize what could be the largest demonstrations in Chicago in years. They say tens of thousands of people may converge for the May meetings between members of NATO and the Group of Eight — France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia and the United Kingdom and the U.S. The meetings will include discussions about the future of coalition operations in Afghanistan.
The summit will put Chicago in the international spotlight and, some say, test new Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his police force.
While some world summit protests have turned unruly and violent, the organizers of Sunday’s event — retirees, gay rights activists, even the recycling manager at a local university — say they expect peaceful demonstrations and any trouble would come from provocateurs or police themselves.
“Our goal is a legal, permitted, family friendly march where people can come and have their voices heard in a safe environment,” said Pat Hunt, of Chicago Area Code Pink and Chicago Area Peace Action.
John Russick, a curator at the Chicago Historical Society, said demonstrations have always been a part of Chicago history. Some weren’t so peaceful, like the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, when police violently clashed with an estimated 10,000 protesters, and others were relatively problem-free, including those involving equal housing, gay rights and even the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
“One of the most interesting aspects of Chicago history is the dynamic of city politics and demonstrations; it’s part of our culture and has been for long time,” Russick said. “Chicago has strong commitment to civil liberties but also has a history of wanting to keep the peace. It will be interesting how these two things balance out when the G8 is here.”
City officials said it’s too early to talk about specifics, but they’re committed to keeping the city safe while assuring protesters have a voice.
Emanuel told The Associated Press in a written statement that the summits are “a tremendous opportunity for Chicago to showcase itself to the world … (and) a major responsibility that we take very seriously.”
He said part of the city’s planning effort includes ensuring First Amendment rights.
But Hunt said Chicago police in the recent past have tried to confine protests to free-speech “zones” and arrested peaceful demonstrators.
“We’re pretty clear what the challenges are. We’ve been there, (though) certainly not on this scale,” Hunt said. “So we’ll get more bodies and ramp it up.”
The planning starts Sunday, when representatives of more than 50 groups are scheduled to meet at the Chicago-Kent College of Law to vote on an organizational structure for a coalition, set goals and establish work groups with the goal of bringing in as many people as possible to protest policies they say promote war and poverty.
“We thought we needed to bring all the forces together nationally and internationally in Chicago to protest … the twin heads of a lot of the problems in our society,” said Ashley Smith, of the New York-based United National Antiwar Committee.
It’s not unusual for activists to begin planning months ahead of big demonstrations, said UNAC co-coordinator Joe Lombardo, a retired state worker from New York who protested the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. But in Chicago “it’s clear we’re going to have a civil liberties fight” for permits and other issues, making it imperative to begin now, he said.
Part of their concern, organizers say, stems from the arrest of more than 900 demonstrators during a 2003 march to protest the war in Afghanistan. A federal judge ruled earlier this year that police acted “without justification,” sending the case back to a lower court for trial. The city said marchers didn’t have a permit and ignored orders to disperse, but the judge said the city had allowed he march to proceed without a permit.
What’s more, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was quoted in published reports last month saying he was scouting staging areas for protesters during the summits, and the department was training its 13,000 officers to make mass arrests.
Those planning the world summit protests said they sent Emanuel a letter demanding the city grant them permits to rally and march, guarantee their civil liberties will be protected and promise law enforcement won’t spy on or infiltrate their groups. Emanuel spokeswoman Jennifer Martinez said she didn’t know if Emanuel received the letter or would respond, but she said it was too early to grant permits.
Activists said if there is any civil disobedience in Chicago, it will be peaceful.
“We will not be the ones to initiate or perpetrate any violence,” said Smith, from the anti-war committee. “We will back off from any violence.”
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
As the US/NATO-led rebel forces assault the Libyan capital of Tripoli, it is important for antiwar and progressive forces to recognize a few key points. The development of events since the popular North African revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt led to some divisions among progressive forces as the imperialist countries maneuvered to take control of the situation and develop contradictions in North Africa in their favor. In Libya the U.S., France, the U.K., and Italy joined together to take advantage of the discontent among certain sections of the Libyan people, and thereby develop an armed rebel movement to topple the Gaddafi government. This criminal action taken by US and NATO forces should be condemned by all people of conscience. The success of the NATO-led rebels would certainly mean an end to an independent Libya.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization pointed out some of the contradictions at work in a statement on March 17, the day of the UN Security Council vote to intervene in Libya: “Since day one of the crisis in Libya, the corporate media has been in motion, preparing public opinion for war with Libya. Likewise, since the beginning of the crisis, the western, imperialist powers have been maneuvering militarily to take advantage of the situation. Meanwhile, it is clear that the rebels in Libya are not of one mind. Some of their leaders are tied to the old CIA-funded National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which would like to see Libya’s oil industry completely privatized, meaning an end to the current free health care and free education programs enjoyed by the Libyan people. Some are monarchists and others who wish to turn back the clock on Libyan social progress. Undoubtedly, war with Libya will mean the most reactionary forces among the rebels coming to power if Gaddafi’s government is defeated by the guns and bombs of the west.” We are now seeing this nightmare approaching reality.
The reasons behind this war are both economic and geostrategic. On the one hand, the Western powers wish to divide among themselves Libya’s vast oil wealth, the greatest in Africa. “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters. The National Transitional Council led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil has likewise been clear that it wants very much to align itself with the U.S. and the other Western powers. On the other hand, the Western powers want to strengthen their dominance in the region, which is threatened by the political unrest that has swept North Africa and the Middle East since the beginning of the “Arab Spring”. If US/NATO forces are successful in Libya, they will be in a much better position step up their attempts to topple the government of Syria.
To give cover to this war of aggression and domination, they are cynically manipulating the political discontent of a section of the Libyan people, and utilizing bought and paid for puppets. And yet despite the intense attacks, including thousands of bombing raids, drone attacks, commando operations, and global economic sanctions, the patriotic people alongside Gaddafi’s government have resisted heroically and will certainly continue to do so. That they have held on for as long as they have is a tribute to the Libyans’ will to fight, their tenacity in the face of adversity, and the real commitment to maintaining national independence.
This conflict has now sharpened to the utmost degree, and at this point it must be clear that there are but two sides. On one side stand the forces of colonial domination, represented by all the might of the great powers–the U.S., the U.K, France and Italy. On the other side stands all who steadfastly oppose the forces of Empire. Despite whatever strengths of weaknesses the patriotic forces in Libya may have, progressive people everywhere should stand on the side of an independent Libya, for self-determination and against national oppression and domination.
Published on July 15, 2011 by the Chicago Sun Times
By Frank Main
Battle lines between protesters and the police are already being drawn for the NATO and G-8 summits that Chicago will host next spring.
On Thursday, an anti-war organizer said he was scouting potential staging areas for crowds of protesters expected outside the summits in May.
Meanwhile, police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he’s been planning for three weeks. And he put a deputy superintendent, Debra Kirby, in charge of preparing the Chicago Police Department’s response.
“We have to train for mass arrests,” McCarthy said. “We have to train 13,000 police officers in arrest procedures and containment procedures. At the same time, we will not stop patrolling the city.”
McCarthy said he will send representatives to Pittsburgh and Seattle to learn how those cities dealt with massive protests. In Seattle, about 35,000 people protested a World Trade Organization meeting in 1999 and caused more than $2 million in damage to businesses. There were violent clashes between protesters and police in Pittsburgh during a G-20 summit in 2009.
McCarthy said he is working with the U.S. Secret Service, State Department and other federal agencies to plan for the protection of the foreign dignitaries who will attend the summits here.
On June 22, President Barack Obama announced the high-level meetings were coming to Chicago — after Obama was lobbied by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff.
McCarthy said he met with his staff that day to start planning for the summits.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the professionalism of this agency,” McCarthy said. “The entire department has to be prepared to respond to this event.”
The summits will be held from May 15-22. Chicago is the first U.S. city other than Washington to host a NATO meeting. The Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet here at the same time.
Joe Iosbaker, spokesman for the United National Antiwar Committee, said Thursday that he was scouting marching routes to McCormick Place, where he said the city might host the summits.
Iosbaker said he already sought permits for protesters to gather downtown at Daley Plaza and the federal plaza. He said he also may seek a permit for a staging area in a lakefront park.
“People are saying this will be larger than our RNC protest, which drew 30,000 people,” Iosbaker said, referring to the 2008 Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, Minn.
His group is planning for protests on May 15 and May 19, but he said he expects other coalitions will stage separate actions, too.
“I think there will be some synergy as the movement against corporate globalization comes together with the anti-war movement,” Iosbaker said. “Our slogan is ‘jobs, healthcare, education, housing — not war.’ ”
Iosbaker said he is hoping for a peaceful demonstration that will result in no arrests.
“We want our marches and rallies to be things that people can bring their children to,” he said. “We want everybody who wants to say something to these heads of state to be heard.”
About 50 groups have pledged their support for the demonstrations against NATO and will hold a planning meeting in Chicago on Aug. 28, Iosbaker said.
“We intend on having our rights respected — our rights to assemble, to speak and to march,” he said.
Last year, Iosbaker’s Logan Square home was searched by FBI agents in an “investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism.” No charges were filed against Iosbaker, who said the raid was an effort to stifle his war opposition.
Published on July 14, 2011 by Al Jazeera English
World body says plan to hand over security to local forces in Afghanistan has helped fuel sharp rise in casualties.
The first half of 2011 has been the deadliest six months for civilians in Afghanistan since the decade-old war began, according to the United Nations mission in the country.
The number of civilians killed from January to June 2011 rose 15 per cent compared to the same period last year, said a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Thursday.
“The rising tide of violence and bloodshed in the first half of 2011 brought injury and death to Afghan civilians at levels without recorded precedent in the current armed conflict,” the report said.
It added that plans to hand over security in parts of the country helped fuel the rise in casualties.
“Violence rose as (anti-government fighters) sought to demonstrate that Afghan security forces could not manage security on their own,” the report said.
The mission said 1,462 civilians had been killed in conflict-related incidents.
It attributed the rise to a wide range of increased violence, including a greater use of improvised bombs, suicide attacks and targeted killings, as well as more ground fighting and a rise in casualties from NATO air strikes.
The annual mid-year report said anti-government fighters accounted for 80 per cent of all deaths.
Pro-government forces - including the Afghan police and army and NATO-led troops – were responsible for 14 per cent of civilian deaths, a drop of nine per cent. But air strikes, one of the most controversial tactics in the war, killed more people.
Air strikes carried out by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were the leading cause of civilian deaths by pro-government forces, so far killing 79 civilians in 2011, the report found.
This comes despite NATO reducing the number of deaths it was responsible for by nine percent.
Apache attack helicopters played a much more prominent role in civilian deaths, with 56 per cent of air strike deaths being attributed to those aircraft in the first half of 2011.
While the number of suicide attacks was largely unchanged, the number of civilians they killed increased 52
per cent, the largest rise in deaths from any tactic.
Anti-government fighters who have been squeezed in some of their traditional heartlands have tried urban attacks to underline their reach as NATO troops race to prepare Afghan forces for a security handover which begins this year.
“Suicide attacks in 2011 have become more complex, often using multiple bombers in spectacular attacks that kill many Afghan civilians,” found the report.
Appeal for reduced violence
The UN representative in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, said it had been in touch with the Taliban over its role in killing civilians.
“What we need from them is a factual change, or, in other words, a reduction of indiscriminate civilian casualties,” he said at a press conference.
“They (Taliban) will not like this report, they will complain about it,” he said, as he appealed for reduced violence during the holy fasting month of Ramadan due to begin across the Islamic world in two weeks’ time.
The group last month condemned as “propaganda” UN data that blamed them for the deaths of more than 300 people in May, the deadliest month for civilians since it began tracking casualties in 2007.
The UN said civilian deaths from improvised explosives devices (IEDs) increased 17 per cent from the same period in 2010, making IEDs the single largest killer of non-combatants in the first half of 2011.
It also said the number of targeted killings of Afghan security and government personnel across the country rose to 190 from 181 in the same period in 2010.
Controversial night raids by US-led forces targeting suspected Taliban military leaders, accounted for two percent of civilian deaths, a slight decrease on the first half of 2010.
“However, resentment regarding these raids grew among the Afghan population,” the report said. “Violent demonstrations sometimes followed night raids and led to deaths and injuries of civilians.”
© 2011 Al Jazeera English