September 11 Anniversary
On this eighth anniversary of September 11, the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization extends its condolences to the families of those killed that day, to all the firefighters, other first responders, medical personal and workers who suffer still from the trauma and medical problems stemming from that day, and to all the peoples worldwide, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, all who have been killed, maimed and subjected to the U.S. war of terrorism. As Americans reflect on this day and the results of the past eight years of the “war on terror,” what comes to the fore for many is the reality that this U.S. war has increased problems and insecurity here and worldwide.
U.S. aggression in the name of the “war on terror” has brought on the deaths of more than a million people and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, like schools, hospitals, and power stations. It has brought the unjust and inhuman occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, fueled the siege of Gaza, aggression against Pakistan and threats against Iran, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. It has unleashed broader government impunity to torture, kidnap, and indefinitely detain people guilty of no crime. Racial profiling, collective punishment, raids on whole communities, family detention camps with more being built, all are said to be necessary for the “security” of the country. And while President Barack Obama has plans to close Guantánamo, there are no plans to close the prison at Bagram in Afghanistan, another torture camp larger than Guantánamo. There are plans to open a super-jail in the U.S. Thus the impunity of the Office of the President to indefinitely detain people without charges or trial is to continue in the name of the “war on terror.”
The September 11 anniversary does not take place in a vacuum. This year it is taking place at a time of unemployment levels at almost 10 percent and for youth nearly 25 percent. When those no longer looking for work are counted along with those forced to work part time, the levels are far higher. The rising unemployment also brings record levels of home foreclosures and increased poverty and homelessness. These are all major sources for insecurity that the “war on terror” does nothing to solve. The war economy is robbing the economy of needed resources and undermining living conditions for all.
The current economic crisis also intensifies the broad anti-social offensive of the ruling class. Governments at all levels are attacking the right to healthcare, education, and all social services humans need while literally trillions of dollars are paid to the rich financiers. Federal funds are used for war funding and paying the rich, such as debt servicing and the numerous stimulus and other funding given to the Wall Street sharks. The drive of the rich to secure the entire public treasury is such that even large states, like California and New York are threatened with bankruptcy — threatening the livelihoods of millions of Americans and creating an atmosphere of great anxiety and insecurity. What is needed is for the government to Stop Paying the Rich and Increase Funding for Social Programs. This is a pro-social stand that favors the people and their security. It is not the direction the government is taking as it strives instead to pursue the “war on terror,” and world empire.
In his remarks on September 11, President Barack Obama said, “Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still. In defense of our nation we will never waver; in pursuit of al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter.
“Let us renew our commitment to all those who serve in our defense — our courageous men and women in uniform and their families and all those who protect us here at home. Mindful that the work of protecting America is never finished, we will do everything in our power to keep America safe. […]
“Most of all, on a day when others sought to sap our confidence, let us renew our common purpose. Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love.”
One can certainly appreciate the invoking of a spirit of unity on September 11. But reality and the experience of the last eight years also brings forward the necessity to consider unity for what purpose? Can there be a “common purpose” with a government and economic system responsible for aggression, occupation, torture, massive unemployment, poverty and insecurity? A “common purpose” with the U.S. war of terrorism at home and abroad? Such a “common purpose” provides no solutions.
The common purpose the American people do share is that of building a nation and government that represents the working class and people and their common demands — for an end to U.S. wars and aggression and to bring all U.S. troops home now as the best means to secure their safety and that of the country. It is a common fight for international relations of mutual respect and benefit, unity with the world’s peoples in defending the rights of all and contributing to the well-being of all abroad and at home. The humiliation of the crimes of aggression and torture carried out in the name of Americans can be dealt with by uniting to defend rights.
This anniversary again calls on all to step up the struggle for the rights of all at home and abroad and advance the struggle for political empowerment. We need an anti-war, pro-social government with worker politicians representing us in Congress. Let us together work toward that aim in the 2010 and 2012 elections. We need our own fighting collectives strengthening the fight for rights and rejecting the call of the government to join its war of terrorism.
On this anniversary we salute the fighting peoples everywhere, advancing resistance to U.S. imperialism. We stand together with all in advancing our common struggles here at home under the banner, Our Security Lies in Our Fight for Rights!
U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now!
The Barack Obama administration is now planning to present Congress with “metrics” for “success” in Afghanistan. Military and government officials all estimate the U.S. will occupy Afghanistan for at least 5-12 more years and a British General predicted 30-40 more years. An indication of the difficulties the government has in saying what constitutes “success” was seen in recent comments by special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke. When asked to define “success” he said, “We’ll know it when we see it.”
According to Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, the Obama administration is producing a document called a Strategic Implementation Plan, which, “will include separate ‘indicators’ of progress under nine broad ‘objectives’ to be measured quarterly... Some of the about 50 indicators will apply to U.S. performance, but most will measure Afghan and Pakistani efforts.” In this manner, the U.S. is attempting to say how far it goes in forcing the people of Afghanistan to submit and become “partners” with the U.S. and its drive for empire will be the “success” they want to see. As resistance increases and the demand for the U.S. to get out broadens, both in Afghanistan and the U.S., the difficulty in justifying occupation is also rising. Indeed, reality daily reveals that more troops and war funding will solve no problem.
Experience also brings out the false nature of these claims to “measure success.” During the Vietnam War, the government attempted to hide its failures by repeatedly inventing new ways of “measuring success.” There were, for instance, the eighteen indices of the Hamlet Evaluation System, each meant to calibrate the “progress” of “pacification” in south Vietnam’s 2,300 villages and almost 13,000 hamlets, focusing largely on “rural security” and “development.” Then there were the many indices of the Measurement of Progress system, its monthly reports, produced in slide form, including “strength trends of the opposing forces, efforts of friendly forces in sorties... enemy base areas neutralized,” and so on. Commanders in the field were called on to develop “kill ratios,” to show the U.S. was “winning.” It is well known that body counts of Vietnamese killed were greatly exaggerated while those of Americans killed were lowered to meet these quotas and indicate “success.” All of the efforts at “measuring” the war served to hide the reality that the U.S. was carrying out an aggressive war and attempting to occupy the country and the Vietnamese were fighting to liberate their country. Their just cause and unrelenting resistance defeated the U.S. occupation and achieved victory.
The broad and growing demand of Americans is to End the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Now! All Troops Home Now! According to the latest CNN poll, 57 percent of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan, an 11 percent rise since April. Only 25 percent are said to favor increasing the number of troops, down 14 percent since April.
Success in foreign policy can be measured in how far the U.S. goes in ending aggression and use of force and in contributing to meeting the rights of the peoples abroad and at home.
Stop Funding War, Increase Funding for Social Programs Abroad & at Home!
Below are some of the latest facts concerning the massive war spending taking place in the occupation of Afghanistan:
Number of Afghan civilian deaths recorded by the U.N. for just January-July 2009: 1,013, a rise of 24 percent from the same period in 2008. The actual numbers are estimated to be far higher and over the course of the now eight year war tens of thousands of people.
Annual funding for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2002: $20.8 billion.
Annual funding for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2009: $60.2 billion.
Total funds for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2002-2009: $228.2 billion.
War-fighting funds requested by the Obama administration for 2010: $68 billion (a figure which will, for the first time since 2003, exceed funds requested for Iraq).
U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, 2002: 5,200.
Expected U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, December 2009: 68,000.
Funds recently requested by U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry for non-military spending in Afghanistan, 2010: $2.5 billion.
Funds spent since 2001 on Afghan “reconstruction”: $38 billion (“more than half of it on training and equipping Afghan security forces”).
Percentage of U.S. funding in -Afghanistan that has gone for military purposes: Nearly 90 percent.
Cost of the latest upgrade of Bagram Air Base (an old Soviet base that has become the largest American base in Afghanistan): $220 million.
Number of U.S. regional command centers in Afghanistan: 4 (at Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Bagram).
Number of U.S. prisons and holding centers: approximately 36 “overcrowded and often violent sites” with 15,000 detainees.
Number of U.S. bases: at least 74 in northern Afghanistan alone, with more being built. (The total number of U.S. bases in Afghanistan seems not to be available.)
Percentage of American spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles now devoted to Afghanistan: 66 percent (33 percent are in Iraq).
Cost of a single recent Pentagon contract to DynCorp International Inc. and Fluor Corporation “to build and support U.S. military bases throughout Afghanistan”: up to $15 billion.
Estimated cost per troop of maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan when compared to Iraq: 30 percent higher.
Number of gallons of fuel per day used by the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan: 800,000.
Cost of a single gallon of gas delivered to the Afghan war zone on long, cumbersome, and dangerously embattled supply lines: Up to $100.
Number of gallons of fuel used to keep Marine tents cool in the Afghan summer and warm in winter: 448,000 gallons.
Number of military contractors hired by the Pentagon in Afghanistan by the end of June 2009: Almost 74,000, nearly two-thirds of them local hires, a 9 percent rise over the previous three months.
Percentage of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan made up of contractors in March 2009: 57 percent. This is the highest percentage of paid mercenaries for any war in U.S. history.
Cost of new “crash” program to expand the U.S. “diplomatic presence” in Afghanistan and Pakistan: $1 billion. ($736 million of which is slated for the construction of a massive new embassy/regional headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan.)
Number of additional U.S. government personnel reportedly slated to be sent to Pakistan to augment the 750 civilians already there: almost 1,000. Estimated total number of civilians to be assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as part of a proposed ongoing “civilian surge” by 2011: 1,350 (800 to be posted in Kabul, 550 outside the capital).
Cost of the State Department’s five-year contract with Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan: $210 million.
Cost of the State Department’s contract with ArmorGroup North America, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Wackenhutt Services Inc., to guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: $189 million.
Percentage rise in attacks on coalition forces by Afghan resistance using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 114 percent.
Rise in Coalition deaths from IED attacks in July 2009 (compared to July 2008): six-fold.
Percentage increase in overall attacks on occupation forces in the first five months of 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 59 percent.
A panel of experts on the Afghan War, including Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran and adviser to four presidents, who chaired President Obama’s Afghan task force, two members of the task force of U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan Stanley A. McChrystal, and the Brooking Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon estimated that: (1) A significant escalation of the war will be necessary to avoid utter defeat. (2) Even if tens of thousands of troops are added to the U.S. occupation, it will not be possible to determine if the U.S./NATO effort is succeeding until eighteen months later. (3) No significant drawdown of U.S. forces will take place until five years have passed. Riedel commented, “Anyone who thinks that in 12 to 18 months we are going to be anywhere close to victory is living in a fantasy.”
New chief of staff of the British Army, General Sir David Richards: “The Army’s role will evolve, but the whole process might take as long as 30 to 40 years.” New NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: NATO’s mission in Afghanistan will last “as long as it takes” to ensure that the country is secure.
(Facts reprinted from tomdispatch.com)
As the Obama administration and Congress begin a heated debate about how many more American troops to send to Afghanistan, military observers, soldiers on the ground there and some top Pentagon officials are warning that dispatching even tens of thousands more soldiers and Marines might not ensure success.
Some even fear that deploying more U.S. troops, especially in the wake of a U.S. airstrike last week that killed and wounded scores of Afghan civilians, would convince more Afghans that the Americans are occupiers. The heart of the problem, soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and some officials in Washington told McClatchy, is that neither Barack Obama’s White House nor the Pentagon has clearly defined America’s mission in Afghanistan. As a result, some soldiers in the field said, they are not sure what their objectives are.
“General McChrystal’s latest assessment reportedly indicates that the situation in Afghanistan is ‘serious,’ “ said former deputy secretary of state and Pentagon official Richard Armitage, referring to General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan. “President Obama needs to define, more clearly than he has so far, what our country’s objectives in Afghanistan are and his strategy for achieving them. Without that, it is impossible to assess whether the mission requires additional troops.” The administration’s stated goals in Afghanistan have ranged from eliminating the threat posed by al Qaida – which is based in neighboring Pakistan, not in Afghanistan – and building a stable democratic state, depending on what administration official is speaking and when.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates attempted to define the administration’s strategy. He said that before the September. 11, 2001, attacks, the Taliban not only provided al Qaida refuge, but also “cooperated and collaborated” with them. Because of that, he said, the U.S. must ensure that a stable government exists in Afghanistan so the Taliban – and ultimately al Qaida – cannot return.
The situation in Afghanistan, including last month’s still-inconclusive election and McChrystal’s review, have made it hard for the president to speak out more definitively, said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the center-left Brookings Institution who was in Afghanistan for the August election. Obama must do so soon, however, O’Hanlon said: “He can’t expect the country to continue to tolerate a mission that he himself has not explained.”
Obama may explain it soon, although the timing and format have not been decided, administration officials said. His choices are problematic. A withdrawal from Afghanistan would bring disastrous foreign policy consequences, but adding troops is no guarantee of success. Although recent polls have found public support for the war in Afghanistan ebbing, aides said the president is committed to the effort but aware of the need to avoid wading into a quagmire.
“Momentum is a terrible way to make decisions,” said a senior White House official who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Obama will avoid decisions that “will bind the country forever,” he said.
Obama, of course, inherited a war without a strategy. George H.W. Bush turned his back on Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew; Bill Clinton never confronted the growing al Qaida threat there despite a series of terrorist attacks; and George W. Bush chose to invade Iraq rather than concentrate on the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan.
The White House is due to send a series of benchmarks for measuring progress in Afghanistan to Congress by September 24, where support for the effort is eroding among liberal Democrats and even some conservatives. Officials, however, concede that no amount of additional American force can by itself ensure success.
Even the limited goal of eradicating al Qaida requires substantially more cooperation from Pakistan than the country has provided so far – or than U.S. military and intelligence officials and diplomats privately say they expect amid mounting anti-Americanism there.
While analogies between Vietnam and Afghanistan are overdrawn, the Brookings Institute’s O’Hanlon said, there is one similarity: the need for a strong local partner, which the United States did not have in South Vietnam. “We’re in a heap of trouble if we don’t have a good local partner,” he said.
To complicate matters, several senior officials said, curbing drug trafficking, rooting out official corruption, improving women’s rights and creating a central government that’s widely accepted as legitimate are all political, not military, objectives.
Despite the Obama administration’s decision to send 17,500 more troops and 4,000 trainers in this year, violence is at its highest level of the eight-year war. Attacks against coalition forces are at their highest, too, with at least 308 troops killed in 2009, which last month became the deadliest year of the war. Military leaders and some in the administration and Congress concede that the situation is deteriorating and that the options are not appealing.
“I tend to believe in the strategy [of sending more troops],” O’Hanlon said. “But I think it’s important to acknowledge that . . . even if we do everything right, we could still fail.” In an interview with Washington Post U.S. Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus said: “I don’t think anyone can guarantee that it will work out even if we apply a lot more resources. But it won’t work out if we don’t.”
Officials who have read General McChrystal’s assessment say it does not ask for more troops directly, which is expected in a separate document later this month. However, they said, the U.S. commander spells out a dire scenario that all but says he needs more troops. The Afghan forces need more training, the assessment says, without saying how many; the mission needs more civilians; and the coalition needs to move its forces out of remote outposts and toward population centers. The request could be for as many as 45,000 troops; a compromise would send about 21,000 more. There are now 62,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The addition of more troops, some U.S. experts and officers said, will mean more targets for the Taliban to attack. That in turn will likely produce more civilian casualties, which would fuel greater disdain for the U.S.-led military presence and the Kabul government, creating more recruits for the insurgents.
The additional U.S. and allied casualties also would produce political consequences in Washington and other NATO capitals, which are already confronting rising popular opposition to the war. Those tensions in turn could further strain the already troubled trans-Atlantic alliance.
Dozens of organizations are joining to organize a national day of local and regional anti-war actions on October 17 to End the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Now. October 2009 marks the eighth year of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and 7 years since Congress passed the resolution authorizing war against Iraq. It also commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the Vietnam Moratorium that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest the war. Actions are also being organized Wednesday October 7, the anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion. Below are a few examples of events planned across the country. All actions are Saturday October 17 unless indicated otherwise. For a more complete listing see natassembly.org.
U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now! October 7 begins the ninth year of U.S. -sponsored war and ruin for the Afghan people. The Obama/NATO escalation has only escalated this great crime, while generals and government officials talk of sending still more troops, and of being in Afghanistan for many years, if not decades. We say no! With tens of thousands of innocent Afghans already dead, no more! With nearly 1300 U.S.-NATO soldiers already dead, no more! Step up work to build the anti-war movement!
Saturday October 17:
U.S. Troops Out Now! Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! Money for Jobs, Pensions, Healthcare & Education Not Wars & Corporate Bailouts! End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine!
Assemble 11 am at UN Plaza, (Market between 7th and 8th Streets)
Public forum opposing the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan Sponsored by: Kansas City Labor Against the War
Peace Vigil to End the Wars
Marking the national day of anti-war actions. The vigil has been ongoing for eight years and will continue every Saturday.
Noon – 1:00 PM
Sponsor: Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice
Human Needs, Not War! Cut the $13 trillion pipeline to the Pentagon!
March & Rally, 12 Noon
Foreclose the War, Not People’s Homes! Out of Iraq & Afghanistan, Troops Home Now, Funds for Human Needs, Not War & Occupation
March & Rally, 1:00pm
Demonstration, time and place to be announced (TBA)
Peace Vigil to End the Wars
11:00 am – Noon
For more information: www.qcprogressiveaction.org
U.S. Troops Out Now – Rally and march followed by peace kite flying.
• Immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, military personnel, bases, contractors and mercenaries from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
• End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. End the Siege of Gaza.
• U.S. hands off Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea
• Self-determination for all oppressed nations and people
• End and prosecute war crimes, including torture
• Money for human needs, not for war
Sponsor: Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition (NOAC). Endorsers: Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (GCISN), Interreligious Task Force on Central America, Women Speak Out, Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor, Dave Macko, 14th District Representative, Libertarian Party of Ohio.
Contact: Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition • 216-736-4716 • www.noacinfo.org
New England Regional March & Rally – Eight Years of War – How Many More? Troops Home Now from Afghanistan & Iraq! 1:00 PM
Copley Square, Boston. March to follow opening rally.
Sponsor: A coalition of Boston & New England regional organizations has come together to organize for this regional protest. For complete list see website. For more information: http://oct17boston.org or info@Oct17Boston.org
U.S. Out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan Now! Bring the Troops Home Now!
12 Noon Rally then March
Initiated by: Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition, www.nepajac.org, 518-439-1968, email: BethlehemNeighborsForPeace@yahoo.com
Endorsed by: Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Guilderland Neighbors for Peace, Muslim Solidarity Committee, Saratoga Peace Alliance, The Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, Tom Paine Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Troy Neighbors for Peace, Upper Hudson Peace Action, Women Against War
New Paltz / Kingston
An event is being organized to mark October 17 as a national day of local and regional anti-war protests.
Sponsor: Action Center for Justice • firstname.lastname@example.org, 704.759.6529
Planning is underway to for an event in unity with the national day of local anti-war protests. Participating groups include South Carolina Progressive Network. Contact: www.scpronet.com