Other Than Mubarak and the Egyptian Military, Who Benefited from US Aid?

January 31, 2011

I’m guessing you know it’s not the Egyptian nor the American people. Israel, or at least its government? Well perhaps but let’s not go sideways here.

If you said Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, GE and the other merchants of death whose weapons Egypt buys with our aid — your tax dollars at work! — you’d be correct.

Bill Hartung, one of the best, most activist-friendly policy wonks/writers/analysts in the peace movement, has a concise article on this very subject on HuffPo today, it’s worth a read. (As is Bill’s new book, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex).

Bill also appeared on DemocracyNow! yesterday in a segment titled “MADE
IN THE USA: Tear Gas, Tanks, Helicopters, Rifles and Fighter Planes in Egypt
Funded and Built Largely by U.S. Defense Department and American
Corporations”

Watch and Listen online at
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/1/31/made_in_the_usa_tear_gas

As far as keeping up on the situation in Egypt, Al-Jazeera is a good bet.


Egyptian Protesters and How You Can Support Them

January 28, 2011

The protests in Egypt, against a dictatorship the US has supported for decades, are very inspiring. Here is an action alert from the Muslim Public Affairs Council with information on how you can be supportive.

ACTION ALERT:
Call White House, State Department & Elected Officials
to Express Concern Over Egyptian Government Crackdown
on Peaceful Protests
 
(Washington, DC – 1/28/11) — As we witness the people’s non-violent movement for democracy in the Muslim world, first initiated in Tunisia and now pivoting in Egypt, we as Muslim Americans must play an active role to help guarantee democratic reforms. 
  
We pursue these moral goals out of our religious obligation for freedom of all people here and abroad, and out of our American commitment to help freedom-loving people anywhere and everywhere. The demonstrations currently taking place in Egypt — as in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere — are a representation of people of all persuasions and not led by one ideology, nor driven by one faith.
  
As a community, we are primarily Muslim American, with roots in the Muslim world. With a unique ability to serve as a cross-cultural bridge, we can and must help guide our country, the United States, to align her foreign policy with American values, including:
  • The God-given right to oppose tyranny and oppression
  • The human need to rid all governments from corruption so that all people in a society — including the common man and woman, the family and the under-represented people — can benefit from the fruits of their country’s resources
We appreciate the admonition of President Barack Obama, who demanded that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak heed the will of his people.
 
We therefore call on our members of Congress and on our President to pursue the following:
  1. Do not consider the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people as moral equivalents.  One is an oppressor and the other is the oppressed.
  2. Demand that all internet, media, and communications in Egypt free and without obstruction. Manipulating power in certain neighborhoods of Egypt only leads to the segregation of the country into cantons.
  3. Call for an immediate end to the current regime’s violent treatment of its people, especially through arbitrary arrests and torture.
  4. Understand the people’s will and pursue it through diplomatic talks with the Egyptian government.
  5. Meet with Muslim American leaders who understand Egypt.
TAKE ACTION:
  • Visit Congress.org and enter your zip code to get all the necessary contact information for your elected representatives. In just five minutes, you can make a phone call and send an email. Tell your elected officials to support the Egyptian people and further urge U.S. government support for democratic reform in Egypt.
  • You can also contact the Capitol Hill switchboard to directly ask for your elected Representative or Senator:
    • Capitol Hill Switchboard: 202-224-3121
  • Also contact the White House and State Department switchboards and tell President Obama and Secretary Clinton to continue supporting democratic change in Egypt.
    • White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111
    • White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414
    • State Department Switchboard: 202-647-4000
  • For those who want to take action in the streets of America this weekend, be aware of saboteurs.  Do not allow your events to turn violent. 
  • Meet with your elected representatives.  For assistance in setting up these meetings, call MPAC in Los Angeles at: 213-383-3443 or in Washington, DC at 202-544-7701.
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:
  • All internet, media, and communications with Egypt must be restored and provided without obstruction. Manipulating power in certain in certain neighborhoods divides the country and makes it easier for military forces to violently crackdown on protesters.
  • The Egyptian government has used excessive force and engaged in violently oppressive tactics. President Obama, Secretary Clinton and our elected officials must call for an immediate end to Mubarak’s cruel treatment of his people, especially through arbitrary arrests and torture.
Founded in 1988, MPAC is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims.
 
[CONTACT: Marium Mohiuddin, 213-383-3443, marium@mpac.org]

Talk with the Obama administration TODAY

January 27, 2011

Today there are a number of opportunities to directly engage with the Obama administration on a range of issues. It is an opportunity to raise  our concerns:

1) Making real cuts in military spending to fund human needs and create jobs. Point to the proposals from Sustainable Defense Task Force recommendations for $960 Billion of cuts made through cutting monies for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex, reducing the stockpiles of nuclear weapons and closing bases around the world. See Summary of the $960 billion cuts that could be made on the June 11 Peace Blog http://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/

2) Support for the July date for the beginning of withdrawal of troops AND the need for initiating negotiations. Below is the text of the petition which for the drive which we will launch in February. It can help formulate how and why the administration needs to step up it’s efforts to deescalate the war now, before the 2012 elections.

Full schedule & info on how to ask questions are at  WhiteHouse.gov/live

Today, President Obama and senior officials from the Administration will be answering your questions about the State of the Union Address. You can watch all the live question and answer sessions today on WhiteHouse.gov/live

  • 11:30 a.m. EST: Economy Roundtable with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • 1:00 p.m. EST: Foreign Policy Roundtable with Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor
  • 2:30 p.m. EST: Live YouTube interview with President Barack Obama
  • 3:15 p.m. EST: Education Roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • 4:30 p.m. EST: Health Care Roundtable with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

 
************

Petition Obama Supporters for Peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan

 

Dear President Obama:

 

I supported you in 2008, and would like to do so again in 2012, but I’m deeply troubled by the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan (which has spread to Pakistan), and your escalation of it. In Bob Woodward’s recent book you were quoted as saying you didn’t want to lose your base over the war in Afghanistan. Yet that is exactly what is happening.

Without a shift in your policy, it is hard to imagine the same kind of movement will develop to support your re-election campaign. And personally it is hard to see myself participating, at least not at the same level and with the same enthusiasm in 2012.

 

Like most Americans, and an overwhelming number of your supporters, I urge you to:

 

–Initiate negotiations, which must include Afghan women, to end the US military presence in Afghanistan;

 

–Immediately end your escalation of the war, including drone strikes;

 

–Start drawing down U.S. troops and commit to a timetable after which there will be no U.S. or NATO troops, contractors or military bases in Afghanistan.

 

–Support Afghan-led humanitarian and economic development efforts to help rebuild that war-ravaged country.

 

Mr. President, listen to the majority of the American people, and your supporters, who want to end this pointless war with its exorbitant human and financial costs, so we can reinvest in domestic priorities here at home. The $1 million annual cost for each soldier in Afghanistan is a striking example of our misguided priorities. Just as the Iraq war became a dividing line between you and your opponents, so will Afghanistan.


Military Spending Views – Peace Action, Washington Post, CATO

January 26, 2011

Last week, the Washington Post published an editorial on possible “defense” cuts that was about what one would expect. I noticed, however, the editorial made almost no mention of what the mission of the US military is that would justify continuing to spend as much on the military as the rest of the world  combined. So I sent this letter to the editor (didn’t get published, not a big surprise but I’ll try again soon I’m sure!):

January 21, 2011

To the Editor,

Your editorial (“The Pentagon Cuts,” January 20) began with commentary on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ various proposals to trim military spending over the last few years and into the future, and then proceeded to weigh the merits of potential cuts in various weapons systems, technologies and capabilities.

Missing was important context your readers might want to know, such as the fact that our current military budget is the largest since World War II, or that we spend about as much on the military as the rest of the world’s countries combined, or that the current annual military budget of over $500 billion does not include the cost of our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and increasingly, Pakistan), or that the military budget consumes more than half the annual federal discretionary budget.

I also was curious to see how you would characterize the mission of the U.S. military, and saw nothing until these few words in the last paragraph, “…ability to project power.” This is of course was sets us apart from nearly every other country on Earth, our ability to project military might all over the globe, with aircraft carriers, long-range nuclear-armed missiles, bombers, nuclear submarines, over 800 foreign military bases and extended military occupations of two countries at once, to name but a few manifestations of our power projection.

The not-so-nice term for this is Empire. Most Americans see our country as a Republic, not an Empire, want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and favor cuts in military spending rather than Medicare or Social Security. With serious economic and budgetary challenges, the military’s days on the gravy train driven by our tax dollars are numbered, as they must be if we are to re-make ourselves as a peaceful society invested more in the well-being of our people than in our “ability to project power.”

Sincerely,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

*****

On Monday, Benjamin Friedman of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute had a good op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled New Republicans, Same Old Militarism casting doubt on hopes that new Tea Party Republicans will form a new bloc in Congress advocating an end to the US wars of occupation and significant cuts in military spending. It’s a good read, and I heard him give a talk along similar lines recently. While this new anti-war Tea Party congressional bloc may not be very big, so far, it may well grow, especially if we are able to succeed in making alliances with “unusual bedfellows” at the grassroots level.


Even More SOTU – home stretch now!

January 25, 2011

Obama referenced “new threats and challenges” to our national security? What are they? Do they justify spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined?

Iraq – yes 100,000 troops have left the country, but about 50,000 remain, they must all leave by the end of the year, along with the mercenaries, and we must leave no bases behind! And we must repay the huge debt we owe the Iraqi people for the role we have played in devastating their country.

Al Qaeda – US intelligence says there are fewer than 100 of them in Afghanistan. Is the Pakistani military really helping go after them?

How many troops will begin to depart Afghanistan in July? Prez didn’t say, we will need to press on this issue.

Obama mentioned the New START agreement being ratified, but offered no plans for further reductions in nuclear weapons.

Frankly, there’s not a lot in the speech about national security/military policy/war and peace issues, really nothing new at all. (No mention of the peace process between Israel and Palestine I don’t believe.) Budgetary pressures will be the ally of the peace movement, as we cannot afford to continue our Empire any longer, if we want to remain a Republic.

Where’s Eisenhower when we need him with his “beware the military-industrial complex” speech?

It’s up to us to make peace possible (but we knew that already!). And the good news is, the organizing climate, especially for cutting Pentagon spending in order to re-invest in human and environmental needs, is the best we’ve seen since the end of the Cold War.


More SOTU

January 25, 2011

Couldn’t agree more with the Prez about the importance of teachers, but class sizes are rising and teachers being let go all over the country. The federal budget spends just 3% of discretionary funding on education (of course most education funding comes from local property taxes, not federal taxes) while over 50% of the discretionary budget goes to the military. Wrong priorities.

*****

Agree with Prez we need to invest more in the country’s infrastructure, which would also put folks back to work. Let’s cut military spending (all told it’s nearly a trillion dollars per year, $120 billion annually just in Afghanistan) and put the savings to work re-building the country, and also paying our debt to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan by funding reconstruction led by the people in those countries.

*****

Tax reform – sorely needed. Will he fight for it? Not likely, as he just signed off on continuing the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

*****

Olive branch to GOPpers on health care – good luck with that, Mr. President. Again, we could cover everyone in  the country who lacks health insurance for the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

*****

Five year freeze in domestic discretionary spending in a recession, while people are hurting so badly? Bad idea, probably will not fly in Congress, but we’ll see, some in the GOP want to cut more. Reduce Medicare and Medicaid? Very, very dangerous.

“Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.” Agreed, now make it happen, Mr. President (he just caved to the R’s on this issue last month).

 


State of the Union – We Watch, We Tweet, We Blog!

January 25, 2011

My fellow Americans, our addiction to war and militarism is killing our country and threatening the planet.

(No, Obama’s not going to say that).  His actual text is here, courtesy of National Journal.

Paul and Judith will be tweeting, see our Twitter page if you do that sorta thing.

*****

Prez mentioned “a little girl in Tucson,” but evidently will not mention gun control in the speech.

*****

Veep Biden has a new hairdo, yes?

*****

Clean coal? No such thing. Nuclear power? Obama’s biggest contributor was Exelon, the Chicago-based nuke energy company. There is still no solution to the radioactive waste problem from nuke plants. Renewable energy sources now produce more power than nuke plants.

*****

 


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