Monday, May 4, 2009

Afghan-Pak War: 'To Do' Lists for Stopping It

Photo: Islamist Party in Pakistan Opposing Use of 'Drones'

Ten More Things You Can Do
to Oppose War in Afghanistan

Editor's Note: Peace activist Tom Hayden adds his ideas to Z.P. Heller's April 8 piece, and Walter Mosley's 'Ten Things You Can Do to Oppose the War in Afghanistan,' which is included here after Tom's piece.

By Tom Hayden
The Nation

April 30, 2009 -This early period of Obama's presidency is an opportunity to rebuild Afghanistan. It is a chance to become clearer than "out now," while still using the same force in opposing the war. In addition to education on the specifics of the administration's plan and the after-effects in Afghanistan, take these concrete steps to build infrastructure from the bottom up.

1. The immediate demands should be opposition to more troops, predator attacks, human rights abuses and escalating budget costs.

2. Support a regional diplomatic solution (exit strategy), including withdrawal of US/NATO troops and bases. Read Tariq Ali's book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

3. Demand of Congress and President the same accountability that was demanded of Bush and never won: verifiable casualty figures, transparent budgeting, oversight of contractors, compliance with human rights standards, including women's rights--clear metrics to measure progress towards a defined exit strategy.

4.With these focuses in mind and using United for Peace and Justice as an organizational base:
• assist in doubling their membership
• build a local e-mail list of at least 300 names
• build a coalition (at least a letterhead or leadership alliance) of clergy, academic, human rights, environmentalists, African-Americans and Latinos, labor and other progressive organizations.

5. Criticize Obama's war from within the Obama structure and (Since neither of these structures have a focus on the war, contact them or start on a discussion on Afghanistan under another heading).

6. Start or join a group against military recruiters.

7. Build a visible network in your Congressional district. Buy and wear antiwar buttons, T-shirts and banners.

8. Build a local media list and meet with the editorial board.

9. Start Friday night streetcorner pickets. These are the hundreds of groups in every region that hold up placards on Friday nights. This is the heart of the antiwar movement.

10. Support other organizations, such as American Friends Service Committee, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink etc.

[Tom Hayden is a founder of 'Progressives for Obama' and the author of The Other Side (1966, with Staughton Lynd), The Love of Possession Is a Disease With Them (1972), Ending the War in Iraq (2007) and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader (2008).]

Ten Things You Can Do to
Oppose the War in Afghanistan

By Walter Mosley
The Nation

The war in Afghanistan is a quagmire bordering on a catastrophe. With a current price tag of $2 billion a month, this drawn-out conflict took the lives of 155 American soldiers and 2,118 Afghan civilians last year--the bloodiest year of the war to date. Western airstrikes alone killed 522 civilians, fueling hostility toward the United States and causing more Afghans to join and support the Taliban insurgency that has spread into Pakistan.

President Obama has escalated our military presence by committing an additional 17,000 US troops and 4,000 trainers to work with Afghan security forces.

Where is the public outcry? The Nation and Z.P. Heller, editorial director of Brave New Films, have put together a list of things you can do to oppose the war.

1 Watch parts one and two of Brave New Films' documentary Rethink Afghanistan, which explores many fundamental questions.

2 Read up on the war. Anand Gopal's coverage for the Christian Science Monitor has been insightful; see also Ann Jones's Kabul in Winter and articles like Gilles Dorronsoro's "Focus and Exit: An Alternative Strategy for the Afghan War". The Nation's own Robert Dreyfuss has more "For Your Reading Pleasure."

3 Check out the coalition of bloggers and activists seeking nonmilitary alternatives to escalation at Get Afghanistan Right.

4 Demand Congressional oversight hearings. It is Congress's duty to challenge policy-makers and inform the public about everything from the overall mission to the efficiency of military agencies. Sign a petition calling on Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman to hold hearings immediately.

5 What question would you ask at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan? Take a video of yourself or a friend asking your question and e-mail it to Brave New Foundation via YouTube. For help on recording and uploading your video to YouTube, watch the tutorial video and follow the Quick Capture instructions and then go to Rethink Afghanistan to submit the video.

6 Contact your senators and representative directly to demand Congressional oversight hearings. If you can't visit their offices, a phone call or e-mail to voice your opinion can be just as effective.

7 Write to your local paper's editorial board and your favorite political blogs to raise concerns about the war. Don't let the mainstream media remain silent as they did before the Iraq War!

8 Support anti-escalation Afghan groups working for women's rights and social justice. You can aid organizations like the Afghan Women's Mission, MADRE and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) by buying them equipment from their Amazon "wish list" that helps them document and spread the news about their efforts. Stay updated with the Afghan Women's Mission newswire.

9 Join the Campus Antiwar Network and hold teach-ins, debates, talks, demonstrations and walkouts on college campuses across the country.

10 Get involved in the peace movement with groups like Win Without War and Peace Action West, which are devoted to finding nonviolent alternatives to military escalation in Afghanistan. Follow Peace Action West on Twitter.

with research by Rae Gomes

[ZP Heller is the Editorial Director for Brave New Films. He has written for The Huffington Post, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.]

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