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Creating more insurgents than we kill

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Quick: explain the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan.

“Well, um … to get Osama—9/11, you know.”

But Osama’s not there.

“Yes, well … there’s the Taliban—flogging women.”

But Taliban forces melt away into Pakistan during a US offensive, then return when our forces leave.

“But we send those missiles into Pakistan to get them.”

Exactly.

Those missiles do exactly what Al Qaeda needs done: they arouse anti-American hatred. They create a sense of helplessness. They make terrorism seem rational—even necessary—to a people whose families suffer sudden devastation from an untouchable, invisible foe.

Here’s how Chris Hedges writes it, in a post called War Without Purpose:

clipped from www.truthdig.com
Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference
We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan
clipped from www.truthdig.com
The offensive by NATO forces in Helmand province will follow the usual scenario […]
The Taliban will withdraw … And [then] the Taliban will creep back […]
The only way to defeat terrorist groups is to isolate them within their own societies. This requires wooing the population away from radicals. It is a political, economic and cultural war. The terrible algebra of military occupation and violence is always counterproductive to this kind of battle
It always creates more insurgents than it kills
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None of us can identify a winning strategy currently at work in Afghanistan. Killing doesn’t win hearts. Once again, we trust force to accomplish something force has never done.  How long, this time?

Let’s stop it. And start over. With a strategy designed first to ruin Al Qaeda’s pitch, rather than provide its background music.

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Written by Monte

July 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Gunmen prove Homeland Security right

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The Department of Homeland Security is formed ...

On April 7, the Dept of Homeland Security issued a report warning of the dangers of domestic terrorism from right-wing extremists.

Outraged, some leading conservatives demanded apologies and terminations.

A month later, the assassinations began.

Follow the story:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
April 7, 2009: The Department of Homeland Security releases a nine-page assessment document entitled “Rightwing Extremism […] [It] warned of “a heightened level of extremist paranoia” and “lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
April 14, 2009: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich:

The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired […]

April 14, 2009: Conservative commentator Sean Hannity intentionally misrepresents the focus of the assessment as targetting “people who have pro-life bumper stickers.”
April 14, 2009: Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin:

The “report” … was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real. …By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.

April 15, 2009: House Republican leader John Boehner demands an apology from the Department of Homeland Security for the report.

May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller [killed in Wichita church] … suspect apprehended is a right-wing extremist […]

June 10, 2009: [Lone gunman opens fire at] U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum … suspected shooter is a right-wing extremist […]

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Far-right speakers have continually pooh-poohed the idea that their over-blown exaggerations could stimulate some to actual violence.
The evidence is on the table.

Enough. Time to stop crying “socialism” (Sarah Palin) andif somebody doesn’t stop him, America will cease to exist… and Obama is “the focus of evil” (Alan Keyes) and “… the tree of liberty will be fed with the blood of tyrants and patriots. You are the patriots.” (Rep. Michael McCaul). Time for Republicans to utterly reject demagogues and their hyperbole – for what right-winger would believe a Democrat’s plea?

Just as the world waited to hear from reasonable Muslims after 9/11, our nation should hear now from reasonable conservatives, who should be vigorous in their denunciations of the irresponsible, emotional, and self-serving claims of Limbaugh, Hannity, Gingrich, Palin, Malkin, Boehner and the lot.

Stop it. Tragedy has begun.

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Torture: brought to you by white evangelicals

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White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

—a Pew Forum study reported by CNN.com

Egad.

Aren’t the torturers the bad guys in the stories of Jesus?  And weren’t there religious patriots cheering them on, calling out, “We have no god but Caesar?”

Why have evangelicals traded the imitation of Christ for the ruthlessness of Rome?

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Indonesia: Radical Muslims’ parties lose support

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Bravo, Indonesia!

The world’s largest Muslim nation rejects radicals at the polls:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Indonesia’s Voters Retreat From Radical Islam

Session of the Indonesian People's Representat...
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[H]ere in the world’s most populous Muslim nation […] Islamic parties [are] suffering a steep drop in popular support. […]

In parliamentary elections this month, voters punished Islamic parties that focused narrowly on religious issues, and even the parties’ best efforts to appeal to the country’s mainstream failed to sway the public.[…]

The party had projected that it would double its share of seats in Parliament even as it stuck to its founding goal of bringing Shariah, or Islamic law, to Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, with 240 million people. […]

Altogether, the major Islamic parties suffered a drop in support from 38 percent in 2004 to less than 26 percent this year […]

[F]undamentalist measures seem to have alienated moderate Indonesians […]

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Wising-up about pirates: Why force will fail

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The world cheered last week when US Navy sharpshooters felled three Somalian pirates in an instant, liberating the captain of the Maersk Alabama.  Millions celebrated Capt. Phillips’ freedom.

Wonderful as it is that Phillips is free, the overall situation has been made worse.  At the price of millions of American dollars, three young Somalians are dead and one American captain free.  Other Somalians have vowed revenge, promising that future hijackings (which had been mostly bloodless) will quickly become more violent.

TV plots preach that the right folks with the right firepower actually do solve problems.  It almost never happens in real life.  Violence douses a momentary flare-up and pours gasoline on the conflict that caused it.  Off the coast of Somalia?  One captain rescued; ten thousand potential pirates enraged.

The answer surely lies in asking the right question:  Why are those young men pirates? Indeed, why are bands of young men sources of violence all around the world?  Patt Cottingham writes a thought-provoking summary:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

2009-04-20-YoungMales.jpg
For any one with eyes wide open there is a root pattern going on here globally. Young males who have been brought up in an atmosphere of failed states, violence, a feeling of powerlessness, no hope for the future, and who have no anticipation about living very long, become fearless […]

Look around and you see them off the coast of Somalia, in Hamas, in Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, in Palestine, Afghanistan, Africa, Pakistan, India, in Mexican drug cartels, in gangs on the streets of LA, and in jails across the United States. […]
[Y]ou will hear phrases like just blow them up, obliterate them, wipe them out, kill them all, and other declarations of force and bravado. This knee jerk reaction is a global failure that leaves the question still unanswered as to what can be done to change this […]
Isn’t it far wiser to begin to set a course to address the root causes of this? […]
Goodbye to military force as the answer to snuff out young male insurgents.
Hello to the will to get to the root causes of young male insurgents.
Goodbye to the thinking that rogue terror gangs don’t affect us […]
Goodbye to seeing young men with guns and no value for life as worthless.
Hello to seeing young men with guns and no value for life worth our redemption […]

2009-04-20-flag.jpg
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Not much glam, not many thrills, not many political points scored by addressing the real stuff. But if we spent a tenth as much time and effort on avoiding problems as we do shooting our way out of them, we’d get a lot more bang for the buck.

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UN Rapporteur: Not prosecuting torturers is illegal

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From an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard:

clipped from thinkprogress.org

UN Rapporteur On Torture: Obama’s Pledge Not To Pursue Torture Prosecutions Of CIA Agents Is Not Legal

un_nowak.jpg[T]he UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, explained that Obama’s grant of immunity is likely a violation of international law.

As a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is obligated to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens that are believed to have engaged in torture:

STANDARD: CIA torturers are according to U.S. President Obama not to be prosecuted. Is that decision supportable?

NOWAK: Absolutely not. The United States has, like all other Contracting Parties to the UN Convention Against Torture, committed itself to investigate instances of torture and to prosecute all cases in which credible evidence of torture is found.[…]

[T]he convention states that an “order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”[…] it provides unequivocally that states … are to prosecute any incidents [of torture] […]

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If we hope to bring the USA into a relationship with other nations based on mutual respect of international law, how can we flaunt it ourselves?  If we hope to see a world without torture, how can we sweep our own sins under the rug?

Time to face the music, Mr. President.  Pursuing good vibrations internally does not justify the excusing of criminal acts or further flaunting of international and American law.

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Clinton speaks out as Israel hardens

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Good news and bad news from the Middle East.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized Israel for planning to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem, saying,

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and S...
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“Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the ‘road-map’… It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem.”

What a relief it is to hear an American diplomat admit, for once, that Israel is out of line.  Perhaps this is a signal of some movement toward fair play in U.S. foreign policy.  That could help the region a great deal.

Prof. Juan Cole points out that she’ll be besieged by Zionist critics in the USA for daring to say it, and urges “Please consider sending her a supportive message for daring [to] speak out on the issue. In fact, urge her to use a stronger word than “unhelpful” the next time.”

Now the bad news:  Israel’s new hard-line government will probably press ahead on a plan to build 73,000 new settler homes in the Occupied West Bank, doubling the number of Zionists living on Palestinian land to 600,000.  One can only imagine the despair and outrage this theft of the homes of Palestinians will cause throughout the region.

If they do so, Cole believes the two-state solution will be utterly dead: Read the rest of this entry »