tagged w/ end the war
The president began his day by hosting a breakfast at the White House for Gold Star Families - those who have lost loved ones in war.
As is traditional each year on Memorial Day, when the nation honors its war dead, the president and his wife then traveled the short distance from the White House across the Potomac River to Arlington National Cemetery.
There Obama took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a Memorial Day service in a large amphitheater at the cemetery.
Saying his heart goes out to those mourning the loss of a loved one, Obama said the sacrifices of those who have been killed defending the United States must always be remembered.
"On this day we remember that it is on our behalf that they gave their lives," said President Obama. "We remember that it is their courage, their unselfishness, their devotion to duty that has sustained this country through all its trials and will sustain us through all the trials to come. We remember that the blessings we enjoy as Americans came at a dear cost; that our very presence here today, as free people in a free society, bears testimony to their enduring legacy."
Introducing the president at the Arlington memorial service was Robert Gates, the outgoing defense secretary who served not only Mr. Obama but his predecessor in the White House, former President George W. Bush.
"As I come to the end of my time in this post, I know this will be my final opportunity to stand and to speak in this hallowed place and pay tribute to the fallen," said Gates. "It is up to us to be worthy of their sacrifice in the decisions we make, the priorities we set, the support we provide to troops, veterans and their families."
Before President Obama left Arlington cemetery, he and his wife stopped at Section 60, an area containing the graves of men and women who lost their lives in wars since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to Defense Department figures, nearly 6,000 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more 43,000 wounded.
President Obama also used Memorial Day to announce new leadership changes for the military.
Earlier, in a Rose Garden ceremony, he confirmed his choice of U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
With extensive experience in the Iraq war, General Dempsey, after U.S. Senate confirmation, would replace U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush and was kept by President Obama.
Obama praised Mullen, citing his involvement in everything from military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to revitalizing U.S. relations with NATO and resetting relations with Russia.
The president called General Dempsey one of the nation's most respected and combat-tested generals.
"In Iraq, he led our soldiers against a brutal insurgency," he said. "Having trained Iraqi forces he knows that nations must ultimately take responsibility for their own security. Having served as acting commander of Central Command he understands that in Iraq and Afghanistan security gains and political progress must go hand in hand."
Another Iraq war veteran, U.S. Army General Ray Odierno, moves from his current position as head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, to become Army chief.
Obama said Odierno helped bring down once rampant violence in Iraq and oversaw the transfer of security responsibility to Iraqi forces, paving the way for the formal end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq.
The president also announced that Admiral James Winnefeld, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, will become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
In announcing his choices Monday, President Obama said they mark the first time that the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will have the experience of having led combat operations in the years since the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States.
Source: Voice of America http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Obama-Honors-US-War-Dead-on-Memorial-Day--122821759.htmlThe president began his day by hosting a breakfast at the White House for Gold Star... more
Are we at war -- or not?
The reason I ask this is this:
If we are at war, then there must be a pretty good fucking reason that we’re at war. We must be facing an existential threat so large, so well-organized, and so powerful, that it could wipe our entire nation off the map in an instant. If that is the case, then surely, we must be at war. War is something reserved only for the most extreme situations. War is our Tool of last resort. Because we’re America, and we’re a peace-loving nation.
And so, if this threat we’re facing is so massive, and so threatening, then we better get all hands on deck. We need to institute a draft and be at war for real. We need to tax all income at 90% and fund this thing and get it over with. We need every man, woman, and child to be part of the war effort. We need to institute rationing: No more coffee, no more sugar, donate your steel appliances to the war effort, grow a victory garden. Let’s be all in! Let’s win this thing!
But wait-- we’re not facing down any threat like that. There’s no invading army perched on our border. We’re facing down kids throwing rocks, and disgruntled teenagers with no economic future building bombs in their own backyards, who are a far greater threat to our soldiers stationed there, than to our national security.
Less than 1% of Americans serve in the military, and it’s not fair that we should be asking them alone to shoulder the burden of fighting our wars of convenience. Wars that are the pet projects of pencil pushers in DC, with abstract foreign policy agendas.
Some people complain about the constitutionality of these wars-- and they aren’t wars. But I actually don’t really care about the constitutionality of it. That to me, seems like an academic exercise in the face of the fact that people are dying for no goddamned reason.
Yes, while people bicker about the legality (which is important), back in the real world there are people dying for no goddamned reason (which is more important).
I work with so many women whose husbands are serving right now, who are on their umpteenth deployment, who haven’t been around to see their kids grow up. We, the 99% who do not serve, are far too willing to throw other people’s families through meat grinders. We are too willing to let 1% of the population bear all the burdens-- the heartache, the worry, the lost time with their family that they will never get back, the lost limbs, the vivid nightmares that never go away-- while we talk in the abstract about "Supporting the Troops." It's not fucking fair.
So-- are we at war or not? If we are-- let’s institute a draft and be at war for real. If we’re not at war then BRING THEM HOME.Are we at war -- or not?
The reason I ask this is this:
If we are at war, then... more
2 years ago
http://goo.gl/5Hl46 Tell us why YOU think it's time to end the Afghanistan War and your comments could appear in an upcoming Rethink Afghanistan video! With violence in Afghanistan still worsening a year after the military push into Marjah--the start of what some call "Obama's War"--it's clear military solutions won't work. It's time to end the war.http://goo.gl/5Hl46 Tell us why YOU think it's time to end the Afghanistan War... more
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David Schlesinger, the editor in chief of Reuters, declined to run a story by one of his own reporters containing claims that the 2007 killings of two Reuters staffers in Baghdad by U.S. troops may have been war crimes.
Reuters staffers Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed by U.S. helicopter gunships in Baghdad in 2007. Video of the attack, which shows the journalists standing next to unidentified armed men on a Baghdad street and records the destruction of a van attempting to retrieve a wounded Chmagh, was published this week by Wikileaks.
The video has launched a debate about the legality of the attack, which also wounded two children (you can read our take here). Yesterday, Reuters' deputy Brussels bureau chief Luke Baker filed a muscular story repeating allegations from several human rights and international law experts that the killings may have constituted war crimes. But Reuters chief David Schlesinger, a tipster says, spiked the story because "it needed more comment from the Pentagon and U.S. lawyers." It never ran, but you can read it in full below.
Reuters' response to the disclosure of the video has been relatively muted. Schlesinger issued a statement on Tuesday calling the video "disturbing" but declining to assign blame or accuse the U.S. military of improper behavior:
In this particular case, [I] want to meet with the Pentagon to press the need to learn lessons from this tragedy.
These stories are not easy for us to report or to be involved in. They test our commitment to viewing events and actions objectively.
What matters in the end is not how we as colleagues and friends feel; what matters is the wider public debate that our stories and this video provoke.
Baker's story went much farther, quoting three human rights experts describing the killings as war crimes. While portions of those quotes ended up running in a different Reuters story on the video that appeared yesterday and which Baker is credited as having contributed to, some of the more direct accusations did not. For instance, Baker quoted Clive Stafford-Smith, a human rights lawyer, saying, "I don't think there's any question that this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions." Stafford-Smith didn't appear in any of Reuters' coverage of the incident. Baker's story also paraphrased Reuters lawyer Thomas Kim saying that "further investigation may be required" into the incident—a sentiment that Schlesinger did not express in his initial statement. Kim's remark does not appear in any of Reuters' coverage of the killings. The U.S. Central Command has said it has no plans to reopen an investigation.
Our tipster is baffled by Schlesinger's apparent hesitance to take on the Pentagon over the killings: "Nothing about wanting to seek justice for the deaths of the Reuters' employees or about seeking the truth. Just a bland statement about wanting to work with the Pentagon. Whose side is this guy on? Does he have any spine?"
A Reuters spokesperson denied in absolute terms the accusation that Baker's story was spiked. "It's 100% not true that the story was spiked," she said. "Schlesinger sent it back for more reporting. But it was overtaken by events, and parts of it eventually ran in an updated story." In a later statement, the spokeswoman added that the story was held up in "an effort to incorporate a wider range of experts."
UPDATE: Reuters' spokeswoman has asked us to publish the statement that she provided to us after our phone conversation in its entirety:
It is absolutely untrue that this story was spiked. It was sent back for more reporting in an effort to incorporate a wider range of experts. The story was then overtaken by a more updated one out of Washington that incorporated reporting from the original piece.
This isn't the first time Schlesinger has been accused of killing Reuters stories for fishy reasons. In December, Talking Biz News reported that Schlesinger spiked a damaging story about hedge fund manager Steve Cohen after Cohen called to complain. He later admitted that it wasn't "a bad story" and that it "could have run."
Chris Cobb-Smith, a former British army officer who has conducted investigations in war zones, said knowing exactly what rules of engagement the pilots were operating under was critical to understanding whether they had acted appropriately.
But even then, he said, the decision to fire on the van as unarmed men came to help one of the wounded appeared to be a clear breach of the laws governing military conduct in war.
"Engaging the people picking up the wounded is outrageous,"he said. "That is the element that is blatant. That is against all humanitarian law and the rules of conflict — most definitely and without a doubt," he told Reuters.
David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor-in-chief, said the video showed the "extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones"and said he would seek to meet with officials at the Pentagon to"press the need to learn lessons from this tragedy".
Asked whether the company had any intention of pursuing legal action over the deaths of Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh, Thomson Reuters' deputy legal counsel, Thomas Kim, said:"Our priority is to engage in dialogue at a senior level with the Pentagon." He added, however, that the footage, which Thomson Reuters had repeatedly sought to have the U.S. military release, indicated further investigation may be required.
Bibi van Ginkel, an international lawyer and senior fellow at the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, said the video was only a fragment of evidence and more investigation was needed. But still she added:
"My first guess would be that a war crime was committed. Very simply speaking, if people are helping the wounded, they are non-combatants. If force is used against them, then that is a war crime. But will it be investigated."
While the video footage, with its gung-ho audio track —including the words "look at all those dead bastards" — is shocking, some military experts said there may be nothing wrong with the acts carried out given the combat environment.
In a military courtroom, a jury would have to decide if the gunner "honestly and reasonably" believed he was shooting the enemy, Gary Solis, a military law expert at Georgetown University, told online magazine Salon. "That will always be a defence," he said.But whether there are grounds for legal action or not,experts said their bigger concern was about the desensitisation of war, with soldiers appearing to dehumanise the enemy and seeming not to care about killing from afar.
"It's the attitude and mindset of the computer, war-gaming generation," said Cobb-Smith. "The detachment that a serviceman can now feel when he's operating a weapons system at such a distance via a video screen. That's unnerving and worrying."
FOR THE FULL STORY ~Including "Luke Baker's spiked story" : ========
(Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem)
Send an email to the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU-ik
David Schlesinger, the editor in chief... more
Soldiers killed themselves at the rate of one per day in June making it the worst month on record for Army suicides, the service said Thursday.
There were 32 confirmed or suspected suicides among soldiers in June, including 21 among active-duty troops and 11 among National Guard or Reserve forces, according to Army statistics.
Seven soldiers killed themselves while in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan in June, according to the statistics. Of the total suicides, 22 soldiers had been in combat, including 10 who had deployed two to four times.
"The hypothesis is the same that many have heard me say before: continued stress on the force, said Army Col. Christopher Philbrick, director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. He pointed out that the Army has been fighting for nine years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last year was the Army's worst for suicides with 244 confirmed or suspected cases.
The increase was a setback for the service, which has been pushing troops to seek counseling. Through May of this year, the Army had seen a decline in suicides among active-duty soldiers this year compared with the same period in 2009.
Philbrick expressed frustration over the June deaths. "Because we believe that the programs, policies, procedures ... are having a positive impact across the entire force. The help is there."
A leading military suicide researcher says changing a culture that views psychological illness as a weakness takes time.
"I would expect it to be years," said David Rudd, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The mounting stress on an Army facing renewed deployments and combat in Afghanistan is also a factor, Rudd said. "That's not a challenge they (Army leaders) control. It's a challenge that the president and Congress controls," he said.
cont.Soldiers killed themselves at the rate of one per day in June making it the worst... more
Thousands of protesters — many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama — marched through the nation's capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
"Arrest that war criminal!" Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.
At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether "the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House" — an apparent reference to Obama — prompting moderate applause.
The protesters defied orders to clear the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and park police say they face charges of failure to obey a lawful order.
Activist Ralph Nader told thousands who gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House that Obama has essentially continued the policies of the Bush administration, and it was foolish to have thought otherwise.
"He's kept Guantanamo open, he's continued to use indefinite detention," Nader said. The only real difference, he said is that "Obama's speeches are better."
Others were more conciliatory toward Obama. Shirley Allan of Silver Spring, Md., carried a sign that read, "President Obama We love you but we need to tell you! Your hands are getting bloody!! Stop it now."
Allan thought it was going too far to call Obama a war criminal but said she is deeply disappointed that the conflicts are continuing.
"He has to know it's unacceptable," Allan said. "I am absolutely disappointed."
The protest drew a smaller crowd than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. Protests in cities around the country also had far fewer participants than in the past.
San Francisco's rally brought out Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War and is the subject of the recent documentary film, "The Most Dangerous Man in America." He likened the protest and others like it around the country Saturday to a day of demonstrations organized against the conflict in Vietnam in 1969.
"They thought it had no effect," he told the crowd in San Francisco, referring to the 1969 protesters. "They were wrong."
Ellsberg said President Richard Nixon was planning to escalate the war around that time, but held off.
Protesters in Washington stopped at the offices of military contractor Halliburton — where they tore apart an effigy of former Vice President and Halliburton Chief Executive Dick Cheney — the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.
Anna Berlinrut, of South Orange, N.J., was one of a number of protesters who have children who have served in Iraq, and said her son supports her protests.
"If there were a draft, we'd have a million people out here," Berlinrut said when asked about the turnout. The exact number of protesters was unclear, as D.C. authorities do not give out crowd estimates. Organizers estimated the march, which stretched for several blocks, at 10,000.
Despite the arrests, the protest was peaceful. At the outset, police closed a portion of the sidewalk in front of the White House fence after protesters tried to use mud and large stencils to spell out "Iraq veterans against the war."
Once the sidewalk was closed, the protesters stenciled the message on the street using mud they had carried in buckets to the rally.
Sheehan has been a vocal critic of the war since her 21-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She staged a prolonged demonstration in 2005 outside former President George W. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas.
cont.Thousands of protesters — many directing their anger squarely at President... more
Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to add to his impressive record. In Afghanistan, his agents routinely extinguish wedding parties, farmers and construction workers with weapons such as the innovative Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of your lungs. According to the UN, 338,000 Afghan infants are dying under the Obama-led alliance, which permits only $29 per head annually to be spent on medical care.
Within weeks of his inauguration, Obama started a new war in Pakistan, causing more than a million people to flee their homes. In threatening Iran – which his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she was prepared to “obliterate” – Obama lied that the Iranians were covering up a “secret nuclear facility,” knowing that it had already been reported to the International Atomic Energy Authority. In colluding with the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, he bribed the Palestinian Authority to suppress a UN judgment that Israel had committed crimes against humanity in its assault on Gaza – crimes made possible with US weapons whose shipment Obama secretly approved before his inauguration.
At home, the man of peace has approved a military budget exceeding that of any year since the end of the Second World War while presiding over a new kind of domestic repression. During the recent G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, hosted by Obama, militarized police attacked peaceful protesters with something called the Long-Range Acoustic Device, not seen before on US streets. Mounted in the turret of a small tank, it blasted a piercing noise as tear gas and pepper gas were fired indiscriminately. It is part of a new arsenal of “crowd-control munitions” supplied by military contractors such as Raytheon. In Obama’s Pentagon-controlled “national security state,” the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, which he promised to close, remains open, and “rendition,” secret assassinations and torture continue.Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to add to... more
Accept it? It seems it is out of their consciousness! Gates says the troops have to "turn it around" in a year's time... coincidentally, just in time for the pipeline to be done. And what does Obama mean regarding a "transition to a different phase" after the election on Aug. 20th? He seems to enjoy being a war president. Amazing to me how people who stood up against this for the last eight years are so accepting of it now.
The Defense secretary says forces must show progress in a year or risk losing public support -- especially as casualties mount with at least 50 U.S. and NATO deaths in July, the deadliest month yet.
By Julian E. Barnes
July 19, 2009
Reporting from Washington -- After eight years, U.S.-led forces must show progress in Afghanistan by next summer to avoid the public perception that the conflict has become unwinnable, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a sharp critique of the war effort.
Gates said that victory was a "long-term prospect" under any scenario and that the U.S. would not win the war in a year's time. However, U.S. forces must begin to turn the situation around in a year, he said, or face the likely loss of public support.
"After the Iraq experience, nobody is prepared to have a long slog where it is not apparent we are making headway," Gates said in an interview. "The troops are tired; the American people are pretty tired."
Deep public unhappiness with the war in Iraq helped sink President George W. Bush's approval ratings, making him the most unpopular president in recent history, according to some surveys.
While not predicting a parallel fate for the Obama administration, Gates emphasized the need for progress in Afghanistan during an interview aboard his plane as he returned to Washington after visiting sailors Friday at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.
Gates has spoken about the need for progress in Afghanistan and the public's fatigue of war. But in this interview, he went further by offering a more specific time frame for needed progress as well as the consequences of failing to meet it.
Gates has overseen an overhaul in the administration's Afghanistan strategy in recent months, sending 21,000 additional troops and choosing a new commander to lead the international effort.
"This is where we are really getting back into the fight," Gates said.
The strategy switch came after extremist attacks rose dramatically last year and U.S. and NATO troop casualties surpassed record levels. A U.S. fighter jet crashed on Saturday, killing the two crew members and bringing the number of Western deaths in Afghanistan to at least 50 in July, the deadliest month yet.
President Obama said last week that he hoped to "transition to a different phase" after the Afghan presidential election Aug. 20.Accept it? It seems it is out of their consciousness! Gates says the troops have to... more
Women know that war is SO over. We know it in our hearts, in our guts, in our wombs. We know that the madness in Iraq and Afghanistan has to end, that we cannot keep sending our children to kill the children of mothers across the globe. Last month at an appearance in Turkey, President Obama himself said “…sometimes I think that if you just put the mothers in charge for a while, that things would get resolved.”
Mother's Day pledge by Noo Dal Molin
It is nearly 140 years since Julia Ward Howe wrote her Mother’s Day Proclamation, a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco–Prussian War. It flowed from her feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. Every year since CODEPINK began in 2002, we have worked to remind the public and media that Mother’s Day isn’t really about Hallmark and Teleflora, but was a call for women to gather in “the great and general interests of peace.” Howe knew then what we know now. It will take women’s leadership to undermine what have become the USA’s greatest exports: Violence, Weapons and War.
This year we knew those who could attend our 24-hour weekend vigil outside the White House would be smaller than before, given the fiscal crunch we are all feeling. We created a project so those who wanted could add to the activities. In the past we have done an aerial image of thousands of bodies spelling Mother’s Say No To War photographed from the Washington Monument with the White House in the background. But this year we put out a call for people to knit pink and green squares that we would sew together to read “We will not raise our children to kill another mother’s child” and place across the White House fence. Thousands of pink and green knitted squares have been filling the basement of the CODEPINK house in D.C. They arrive with stories of how they were knitted with love, passion and conviction, with photos of the joys shared in knitting circles around the world. The surprise has been that more women than ever want to participate, more women want to join together in community and engage in conversation.
They want answers. What they hear in the media makes no sense. Why are we leaving more soldiers and private mercenaries in Iraq and not getting out on the date promised? Why are we moving soldiers to Afghanistan when our military has told us there is no military solution? How can we end the violence and protect the women? How can we turn our back on the women and children in Gaza? Why is the military budget larger than under Bush (and that’s not counting another supplemental on Iraq and Afghanistan tacked on)? Why are we spending so much money on destruction, when Obama himself said in his inaugural address, “people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy”?
Women are fired up to gather together and expose the emptiness of the continued push for more weapons and more money for war.
By Jodie Evans
end of excerptWomen know that war is SO over. We know it in our hearts, in our guts, in our wombs.... more
On Saturday, October 27th there will be 11 massive demonstrations for peace throughout the United States. In Boston, Chicago, Jonesborough, Tennessee, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle, people from all walks of life will join together to express their anti-war sentiments and to call for an immediate end to the conflict in Iraq.
On Saturday, October 27th there will be 11 massive demonstrations for peace throughout... more
5 years ago