Just learned from a Spanish crime series & confirmed that Spain deployed 29,861 troops to Afghanistan from January 2002 till October 2015. It’s hard to get a straight accounting from the US Pentagon about US troop strength (there still isn’t one from the Vietnam War), but there have been at least 88,000 US soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, not counting mercenaries, special forces, CIA operatives, private contractors. There were of course thousands of troops deployed from other countries without any honest accounting or reporting about the impact on those countries. There would be a whole other accounting for deployment to Iraq.
Consider the social & political impact on a small country like Spain of having nearly 30,000 soldiers dealing with PTSD & all the other physical & psychological traumas derived from war. What our governments have done to the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya is simply too evil to imagine. Some who harbor delusions about a US humanitarian bombing campaign in Syria accuse principled antiwar activists of having a knee-jerk, unthinking opposition to war. On the contrary, our absolute hatred for war is rooted in knowledge of those wars, experience with US government lies, & a furious commitment to treating other human beings as we would have them treat us. There are many who will go to the grave with that commitment. No human being is alien to us.
When the Oslo Accords were signed in the early 1990s, some Palestinian supporters completely lost their bearings, rejected Intifada as a political strategy, argued the accords, which codified the terms of Palestinian surrender, were the best Palestinians could hope for. It’s not clear if they ever recovered their bearings but it was part of a political shift to the right on Palestine & on other political questions. Those engaged in life & death struggles for self-determination don’t settle for the crumbs offered by the oppressors but fight for their full human & democratic rights.
There is a history to US-brokered agreements regarding Palestinians & all of them have increased the military arsenals pointed at Palestinian heads & have added to the quotient of betrayals. Most notable are the Camp David Accords brokered by then president Jimmy Carter which provided US weapons to Arab countries for use against their own citizens in return for selling out Palestinians (to whom they had previously given some lip service). The Oslo Accords legitimized occupation & expropriation but those who opposed them, including Edward Said, were ridiculed as sectarian fools. If one looks at a map of Palestine with the 1967 borders compared to a map 2019, it is clear the Oslo Accords were a set-up & a betrayal from the beginning.
The provisions of Jared Kushner/Trump’s peace proposal have not been made public yet but nothing, absolutely nothing good can come from them for Palestinians. The Bahrain conference is set up to get the major international political players revved up for a massive assault on Palestinian self-determination–more than they already are. Massive political pressure is being applied to Palestinian leaders of the Mahmoud Abbas sort to legitimize the plan. When Palestinian activists of the Intifada sort are informed of the details, they will be able to formulate a major escalation of solidarity activities among their supporters. Israel, the US, Europe, India, & other countries are not just trying to create bantustate pockets but are attempting the complete ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Those who don’t get that should just keep stepping to the right & leave political commentary to those who read beyond the headlines.
(Photo of Kushner’s smug mug by Susan Walsh/AP)
There’s a lot of hoopla over acclaimed poet & musician Joy Harjo being made the first Native American poet laureate of the US. What’s most memorable about her is that in 2012 she rejected appeals by Palestinians, Native American scholars, other performers, & a social media campaign to honor the cultural boycott & crossed the BDS picket line to perform at Tel Aviv University. An indigenous person, drawing from that experience, siding with colonialists rather than the indigenous occupied people of Palestine? She told an Israeli interviewer, “My poems are often used at births, deaths & weddings.” To which she can now add they are also used as a soundtrack to colonialism, apartheid, & genocide.
(Photo of Harjo in Tel Aviv, December 2012 by David Bachar)
This condemnation of EU refugee policies is a metaphor not only for European policies mandating the drowning of thousands of refugees from African countries, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, & many other countries, but also of the US concentration camps for refugees which every day get closer to the ethos of Auschwitz.
We cannot act like bumps on a log or allow our governments to turn us into monsters in silent collusion with these human rights crimes. Every initiative must be taken to organize rallies, speak-outs, forums, social media campaigns to actively oppose these policies.
Immigration is a human right. Asylum for refugees is international law.
(Artwork by Vasco Gargalo)
The carnage in Syria is a victory of propaganda over political reality, a triumph of corruption over principles, a triumph for fascism but only a temporary setback in the international struggle for democracy.
(Artwork by Chappatte)
This little boy named Khaled Al-Dani was killed on Saturday in Syrian & Russian bombing of Saraqib, Idlib where his family lived. Four other members of his family were also killed.
It must be so heartening for his remaining family to know that while they grieve the unbearable loss, the shabby remnants of the antiwar movement are maligning their little boy as a terrorist who had to die to protect the Assad dictatorship’s right of self-determination.
The corrupted antiwar movement will limp through a few more years of pointless work like occupying that abandoned embassy & sending ‘peace delegations’ to dictators. “The dogs go on with their doggy lives.” But those who supported Assad & Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians will never be able to salvage the destruction they have wrought or the mockery they have made of antiwar principles. A principled antiwar movement must be rebuilt as the preeminent political responsibility of our generation.
May this little boy & his family members Rest In Peace.
(Photo of Khaled Al-Dani from Lina Shamy on Twitter)
Borrowing a malignant strategy from the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the Burmese government has snapped the internet in Arakan/Rakhine & Chin states. The sole purpose is to prevent citizen journalists from reporting the truth about what is going on.
Under Chinese law, all forms of prostitution are illegal though only the prostitutes suffer any legal consequences. The johns, pimps, traffickers face no consequences at all for exploiting & commodifying women & children. The problem has significantly worsened since China transitioned from a planned to a market, sweatshop-based economy. Some kind of socialism that is!
China has almost 1.4 billion & India just over 1.3 billion people. India is hardly a bastion of female equality, but the prostitution revenues in China are estimated at $73 billion compared to $8.4 billion in India. That is not a measure of how much more the Chinese like sex nor is it a form of rebellion against the Maoist era crackdown on prostitution. It is a major symptom of social, economic, & political crisis in Chinese society. In so many ways, prostitution has jack-squat to do with sex & much more in common with rape, because trafficked children & teens are always at the center of it. China is a source, destination, & transit country for trafficked women & children. Until the issue of trafficking is adequately addressed, prosecuted, & punished, complete decriminalization of prostitution is an open invitation to victimizing millions of children.
Photo (from 2008) is a woman waiting for customers in the doorway of a barber shop in Beijing. Prostitutes work from bars, ply massage parlors, karaoke joints, & barber shops.
(Photo from AFP)
Because the number of Sudanese women participating in & leading democracy protests is so massive (by some estimates, they account for 70% of protesters), the military sent down the order “Break the girls because if you break the girls you break the men.” According to eyewitness reports, women activists are being assaulted & beaten to a pulp by ‘security forces’, their hair is being shorn off (that’s happening to male activists too), they are being taken to secret detention sites, strip searched, photographed naked, blackmailed with the photos, threatened with sexual violence, & threatened with or actually raped, including mass raped.
During the Egyptian Arab Spring protests, the assault & rape of women activists in Tahir Square was a daily problem. Media tried to portray it in a racist way as savage Arabs but Egyptian feminist groups & male activists showed the sexual violence was coming from the same source as all the other violence against protesters–the military–& they organized defense squads to protect women. The intent of the military was of course to deter women from participating in the Arab Spring.
As in Egypt, it is reported that despite the dangers, women are in the streets, throwing tear gas canisters back at the military, speaking to crowds of protesters to urge them on, & staffing protest activities just as they did before the military crackdown on the uprising.
Sudanese democracy protesters openly express their respect for the Arab Spring uprisings. They strategize their movement based on lessons they learned from those uprisings against dictatorship, in particular the Syrian & Egyptian Arab Springs. But so also did the Sudanese generals learn from those uprisings.
This is a report on the Sudanese military targeting doctors & medical facilities, just exactly as Syrian, Russian, & US-coalition bombers do in Syria, as Israel does in Gaza, as US-NATO forces do in Afghanistan, Iraq, & elsewhere.