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Creating more insurgents than we kill

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NORTH WAZIRISTAN, PAKISTAN - FEBRUARY 17:  A P...
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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

McCain/Palin campaign rebuked: “incendiary mendacity”

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Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin

Ninety-one college and university professors of communications—the people who write the textbooks that teach our kids how to tell truth from propaganda—have called out the McCain/Palin campaign for deceptive and inflammatory statements.

Yesterday, they wrote:

… the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Surely it is not wise to elect people who claim to be “country first” yet, for their own benefit, inflame the sad fears and racial divisions that still lie among us.  We need presidents who lead the way against those things.

Statement Concerning Recent Discourse of the McCain/Palin Campaign

October 23, 2008

This statement is signed by research faculty of communication programs from across the nation. We speak as concerned educators and scholars of communication but do not claim to speak for our home institutions.

We wish to express our great concern over unethical communication behavior that threatens to dominate the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Both major campaigns have been criticized by fact-checking organizations for prevarications. We call on both campaigns to halt blatant misrepresentations of their opponent’s positions.  [Bravo! – Monte]

It would be misleading, however, to imply that since “both sides do it” there is no qualitative difference worth noting. In recent weeks, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.

Making decisions in a democracy requires an informed electorate. The health of our democracy and our ability to make a good decision about who should lead our nation require the very best in communication practices, not the worst.

Media investigations have debunked the notion that Senator Obama “worked closely” or “palled around” with “terrorist” Bill Ayers. Governor Palin cited a New York Times article that actually contradicts her claim by noting “the two men do not appear to have been close.” Nonetheless, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to repeat the canard, most recently with so-called “robocalls” in battleground states.[i]

The McCain/Palin ticket now describes the Obama/Biden tax plan with such terms as “socialist” and “welfare.” Such descriptions are false. Even if they were not, they would apply equally to the McCain/Palin tax proposals.[ii]

The repeated use of “Joe the Plumber” as a symbol by the McCain/Palin ticket is more deceptive than truthful. Despite the fact that media reports have revealed that the person is not a licensed plumber, owes back taxes, and his current personal income tax would decrease under the Obama tax plan, the McCain/Palin ticket continues to take Obama’s words to Joe out of context to repeat the false claim that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class and thus hurt the American Dream.[iii]

Such discourse is inflammatory as well as deceptive. Behind in the polls, the McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates now appear intent on marking Obama as “other” to elicit racist fears. Senator McCain’s odd question “Who is Barack Obama?” is answered by Governor Palin’s assertion that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do,” along with her comment “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic. . . pro-America areas of this great nation.”

We see an effort to color code the election as between an urban, African-American Obama falsely linked to terms like “terrorist,” “unpatriotic,” and “welfare” versus small town, white, “patriotic” Americans like the mythical Joe the Plumber. “Intended” or not, the message is getting through, as reports have emerged of ugly scenes at some Republican rallies and racists hanging Obama in effigy in Oregon and Ohio. In an echo of McCarthyism, Representative Michelle Bachmann has called for investigations into un-American members of Congress, pointing to Senator Obama as the prime suspect. Speaking to warm up the crowd before a McCain rally, Representative Robin Hayes continued the theme: “Folks, there’s a real America, and liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” The official website of the Sacramento County Republican Party compared Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and urged people to “Waterboard Barack Obama.” The October newsletter of the Chaffey Community Republican Women in California depicts Obama on a food stamp surrounded by a watermelon, ribs, and a bucket of fried chicken. The McCain/Palin campaign has not repudiated such actions taken on its behalf, nor has it done enough to respond to reprehensible behavior at rallies.[iv]

The McCain/Palin campaign and its surrogates, of course, will deny explicit racism. But their purposeful repetition of inflammatory false statements is unethical and stokes the fires of racism.

The code of ethical conduct for the National Communication Association reads in part We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason as essential to the integrity of communication.”[v] We believe the integrity of political communication in our nation is being seriously threatened and we call on the McCain/Palin campaign to put a stop to such efforts immediately.

To see the endnotes and a list of the signers, click here.


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Written by Monte

October 23, 2008 at 11:32 pm

Listen to Jeremiah Wright for yourself

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This is daring, but excellent preaching, and way different from what I’d been led to expect. Way different. I so hope you’ll watch it. Here are some things that surprised me:

  • I heard he quoted Malcolm X; not so. He quotes retired U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, a veteran diplomat, who said in a TV interview that what Malcolm X had said (“the chickens are coming home to roost”) was true of what was happening to the U.S.A.
  • I heard that he singled out the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; not so. The references to those cities were part of a long list of incidents he mentions to demonstrate a point.
  • I heard that he was anti-American, that he preached hate, that he was anti-white; not so. He’s preaching here as an American (he’s an ex-Marine, by the way). He is preaching in opposition to hatred and revenge! He calls America to carefully consider its path. I found it a tender-hearted, thought-provoking message, well worth hearing.

This is a preacher challenging the morality of a nation of violence, and he’s got a point. If all the criticisms against him are as far from his meaning as the reports on this sermon have been, he’s been sorely slandered, and we’ve been badly misled.


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Written by Monte

March 27, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Iraqis providing an exit strategy?

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Could this be the way out?

Iraqi Lawmakers Back Draft Bill for Withdrawal Timetable
A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have approved a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a freeze on current troop levels. The measure would require Iraqi leaders to seek parliamentary approval for any extension of foreign troops when the UN mandate expires this year. At least one-hundred thirty eight of Iraq’s two-hundred-seventy-five member parliament have signed on. [from DemocracyNow!]

“I read just this week that a significant number of the Iraqi parliament want to vote to ask us to leave. I want to assure you, Wolf, if they vote to ask us to leave, we’ll be glad to comply with their request.” – Republican Senator (and Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell on CNN yesterday.

Many could see themselves as winners here: President Bush could say he never bowed to Congress, and leaving “before the job is done” wasn’t his fault. The Republicans in Congress could say they never abandoned the President. Troops are coming home before the next election, rendering many Democrats’ arguments moot. But Democrats could say they were the first to seek what eventually happened. And Iraqi lawmakers could get points with voters for looking anti-American. Everybody ends up with a story to tell.

And I don’t think wars end until the heavies get their stories.


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Written by Monte

May 14, 2007 at 10:34 am

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism

Ahmadinejad on the way out?

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We in the west often see Iran as monolithically conservative, and Ahmadinejad as the Iranian’s champion. Truth is, he represents Iran accurately even less than Mr. Bush’s views are typical of every American. Iran is a big, diverse country with the ultra-right currently, but likely not permanently, in power.And if the USA remains belligerent toward Iran, which faction of Iranian society will gain strength? Probably the ones most anti-American. That’s a large part of how we got to where we are today. Let’s hope for a bigger vision this time around.

Thanks to Munaeem for this link.

clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
A grand coalition of anti-government forces is planning a second Iranian revolution via the ballot box to deny President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office and break the grip of what they call the “militia state” on public life and personal freedom….
…opposition spokesmen say their broader objective is to bring down the fundamentalist regime by democratic means, transform Iran into a “normal country”, and obviate the need for any military or other US and western intervention….
The movement amounts to the clearest sign yet within Iran that the country is by no means unified behind a president who has led it into confrontation with the west over the nuclear issue, while presiding over economic decline at home.

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Written by Monte

April 30, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Iran, Politics, Religion