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Peace Movement Grows Up, Codepink vs. "Anti-imperialist" Flap

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 10/18/09

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Codepink co-founder catching a lot of flak for suggesting that all troops out of Afghanistan immediately would lead to a Taliban takeover and bloodbath. It began with a Christian Science Monitor article in which Medea Benjamin said after a trip to Afghanistan "We have been feeling a sense of fear of the people of the return of the Taliban. So many people are saying that, if the U.S. troops left the country, would collapse. We'd go into civil war. A palpable sense of fear that is making us start to reconsider that."

Scott Horton followed up with an interview of Medea HERE.

Benjamin was lit into for deviating from the position of U.S. Out of Afghanistan, period. Anything but everyone and everything out of the water NOW is neo-imperialist stooge? I guess that would have to include Robert Greenwald, who is circulating a petition calling for a civilian solution to stability. This is the film-maker who blew the lid off war profiteering in "Iraq for Sale."

What's happening here is a long-overdue discussion that goes beyond "troops out now" for the peace movement. Does troops out now mean everything out now, even humanitarian aid?

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First, there is no such thing as "troops out now" because even a full withdrawal would take six months to a year, as there are logistics of troop transport, bringing back equipment or just leaving it and burning it (the military-industrial complex loves that one woo hoo! More contracts). You don't get 60,000 troops into a country overnight. You don't take them out overnight either.

We take a pre-bombed country, bombed because Ziggy Brzezinski couldn't wait to arm Islamic extremists to give the Russians "their own Vietnam", then bomb it some more then split. Nice! In the Seventies women were wearing mini-skirts in Kabul. Brzezinski and US policy fixed all that.

Leave them to work their own problems out now? With what? They are already starving, have nothing to grow but poppies, their irrigation and canal systems are still trashed with Russian bomb rubble because we haven't helped them clear it, and this winter if we just split thousands of more children will starve and freeze. Prosecute Brzezinski as a war criminal if we must, but these people don't know or care who made the mess. Only that they are starving, and someone is always bombing them. When will the world have pity on this country?

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There is a solution. Get money to the poorest people in a way which "tunnels" through the corruption, so that they don't have to depend on the Taliban for the $8 a day they pay for insurgent work, and they will turn on the Taliban themselves. The Taliban is hated by most of the population as it ruled only by fear, not any popular consent.

We identified one functional ministry of the Karzai government which has done the work of building more than 25,000 community development councils (CDCs) which work with the villages and the elders on work projects which benefit the communities, not corrupt foreign contractors like Loius Berger or corrupt Afghan warlords. Details are in our White Paper "Stabilizing Afghanistan Through a Cash-for-Work Initiative."

Everyone knows it's an imperial war; everyone knows we should get out. How do we do this without making the people pay who ALWAYS pay? Dirt poor Afghans. Even when the Russians were bombing they did a few good things, like build lots of sturdy apartment buildings you can see all across Kabul and a bread factory that put out a million loaves a week.

The ministry is the MRRD, Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development. Google it and you will see that reviews are positive, that their bureaucrats are generally honest and dedicated, and that they get help to the villages efficiently. It's time to get the poorest people out of the middle of the "Great Game." We have proposed a "Mini-Marshall Plan" which targets the most desperate Afghans for cash-for-work projects, meaning they get cash into Afghan hands at the end of a day or week of labor, so they can feed their families. We have proposed legislation which diverts funding which would be used for a troop escalation to the MRRD, which has the capacity to implement thousands of small cash-for-work projects across the country, according to what we learned from an extensive round of meetings while we in Kabul this summer.

"An Exit Strategy for Afghanistan"

We want troops out, but if we don't give these people other means of support, the Taliban is the only employer in town. The Taliban originates in the madrassas in Pakistan backed by the ISI. Imperialists are not nice, but neither is the Taliban. It's downright evil that we starve Afghans so they have to work for the Taliban, then bomb them because they are now insurgents. Good for Halliburton, good for Dyncorp and Lockheed. Bad for everyone else on the planet. Public support for the war depends on people not understanding the game the military-industrial complex is playing: making enemies so we can have a war. Calling for all troops and every bit of aid out now plays into the military-industrial complex's game, because the Taliban would take over, given the shambles economy, and that shores up popular support for the war. Showing people that stability can be had without military occupation is what screws up their game. The profit is in war, not helping people.

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We have taken the step of making the following film, which interviews unemployed Afghans, to improve the general public's understanding, and to cause a drop in the polls of support for the war. Please help put it on your community access TV station, instructions HERE.

"Afghan Marshall Plan: Winning With Jobs, Not Guns" (watch online here, 26 minutes)

As we have seen from the continuing Iraq debacle, the politicians don't care what a tiny number of activists alone think. But the combination of a "surge" in opposition and a drop in public support for the war could be the knock-out blow for the escalation, then onto withdrawal of troops.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on the (more...)
 

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