Today is March 19, the day that marks the beginning of the invasion of Iraq by the United States and Britain in 2003. This isn't exactly an anniversary to celebrate; it IS, however, one to contemplate, and consider just how things really are six years later. Thousands of U.S. troops dead, tens of thousands wounded (both physically and mentally), and God knows how many Iraqis dead, wounded and displaced. Iraq still has inadequate water, sanitation and electricity; it's infrastructure is a mess.
The Bush administration has gone and left the new administration to clean up the mess. Most of the profiteers have finished their work (much of which was never done in the first place) and left with their bags of money, leaving projects that no building inspector in the U.S. would ever have passed (unless seriously on the take). There are alleged plans for withdrawal from Iraq, while the emphasis shifts to Afghanistan. And finally, the American Empire teeters on the verge of collapse due to shear weight of economic gravity.
What is not seen, what is not generally spoken, is that beyond the greed on (and beyond) Wall Street that has taken down huge institutions in a virtual financial bloodletting, there is another behemoth that is taking down the country slowly, but surely. That behemoth is the Military Industrial Complex. The American Empire (as with every empire throughout history) is essentially a military empire that has its tentacles extended around the world, with roughly 1000 overseas military bases scattered all over, protecting U.S. interests (among them, oil and other strategic resources).
But empires come, and empires go. The question is whether this empire will go gently, or will it crash and burn. The previous president fiddled while the empire burned, or perhaps I should say that he built up the fires and kept stoking them for eight years. The new president has his hands full putting out all the fires and trying to prevent the hot spots from flaring up. The fate of the American Empire will quite likely hinge (in large part) on the way President Obama handles the exit from Iraq, and whether he chooses a military surge in Afghanistan or uses the military selectively to protect the assets important to the Afghan people while "surging" assistance with agriculture, education, health care, and other good will measures to really help the Afghan people build their nation.
Here, from Voters for Peace along with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, are their Top Ten Reasons to End the Occupation of Afghanistan along with their Recommendations for a Changed US Policy. You can read the full report covering all of these issues by clicking here.
Ten Reasons to End the Occupation of Afghanistan
1. US and NATO occupation creates civilian casualties, angering Afghans.
2. Military occupation has hampered humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.
3. Afghan women continue to face violence and oppression under the occupation.
4. US policy has empowered warlords, drug lords and the Taliban.
5. The occupation contributes to violence and destabilization for ordinary Afghans, including refugees.
6. NATO allies and military leaders are questioning the occupation.
7. US troop casualties in Afghanistan are on the rise.
8. Afghans are calling for a negotiated end to the war.
9. Military escalation will only increase the violence, and potentially lead to a wider war involving nuclear-armed Pakistan.
10. Military occupation of Afghanistan does not curb terrorism.
Recommendations for a Changed US Policy
1. Set a swift timetable for the withdrawal of US and NATO military forces, to be substituted by UN forces for short-term security.
2. Immediately cease air strikes on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
3. Support negotiations between all parties involved in the conflict, including Afghan women leaders.
4. Reform humanitarian aid and reconstruction funding efforts to prioritize Afghan organizations over foreign contractors. Ensure that funded projects address the needs and requests of Afghans and are not simply pet projects of foreign donors.
5. Invest in long-term aid that increases self-reliance such as sustainable agriculture efforts.
6. Immediately discontinue the use of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are costly, inefficient, and have militarized the aid process.
7. Standardize, increase, and publicly document compensation to Afghan families and communities affected by US military actions.
8. Sign the treaty to ban cluster bombs, pay for cluster bomb and landmine clean up in Afghanistan, and pledge never to use these weapons again.
If you agree that the U.S. needs to change its policy in Afghanistan, click here to send President Obama your message; let him know what you think. Help him make the best choice!
Wars never bring peace, just suffering and more war. It is time to end the occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and really help both countries rebuild and heal. If we can do that, then perhaps one day we WILL have something to celebrate.
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