Unhappy Anniversary: March 19, 2009
March 19 marked the sixth anniversary of the war and occupation in Iraq. United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) organized people to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pacifica Peace People (PPP) joined the protest at both Colma and Daly City BART stations, handing out UFPJ's "Happy Un-birthday" brochures during the morning and evening commutes. This was their message:
1. The War in Iraq isn't over. We still have 130,000 soldiers in Iraq. Obama has pledged to withdraw 12,000 soldiers in September. We must keep up the pressure to ensure that they come home, and the sooner the better. Obama himself has said that he needs our support to make sure there is change. This is one way we can help him.
2. Afghanistan is not an exit strategy for Iraq. It is not The Good War. There is a growing consensus, even among military strategists, that there is no "military solution" in Afghanistan. Instead of a military surge, we need a surge in diplomacy. We need to invest in diplomacy and development assistance that will lead to a comprehensive peace. Some specific ideas include:
-Define the goal: What is the U.S. trying to achieve?
-End aerial bombing, house raids, and other offensive tactics that harm civilians and increase anti-U.S. sentiment.
-Lead with diplomacy, including meetings with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia to discuss shared interests and possible cooperation to promote peace and stability in the region.
-Reduce India-Pakistan tensions.
-Talk to the Taliban.
-Promote accountability and participatory government to re-establish a peace and reconciliation plan.
-Invest in Afghan-led development and peacemaking.
-Promote security through civilian rule of law.
-Draw down, do not expand military operations. Shift from fighting wars to promoting international justice, including a timetable for full withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces.
-Increase regional and international cooperation in police efforts and support development of the Afghan justice system.
-Increase non-military aid to Pakistan.
3. The current economy has created a new urgency. Military spending is bankrupting our country financially and morally. We are experiencing an unprecedented recession. Unemployment in California is now over 10.1 percent (as of February 2009), and 26,000 teachers have received pink slips. No one is secure. Seniors have seen their savings disappear, leaving their golden years uncertain; young people can't find a job, and the middle generation is trying to hold both ends while dealing with layoffs and furloughs in every sector of economy. We need the $738 billion spent on the military and the wars to be spent in our communities. Every city and every community in every state is hurting. What kind of security do we really have when our libraries are shuttered, our literacy rates are falling, our streets are full of homeless people, our citizens suffer from poor health often exacerbated by their inability to pay for medicine? We need to invest in the kind of spending that will reinvent our communities to meet the challenges of the future, not feed the nightmares of the past.
For information on Pacifica Peace People, email email@example.com