At long last, the U.S. anti-war movement is stirring. Yesterday Democracy Now! featured a great interview with Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy, who just returned from a delegation to Afghanistan. Solomon is worth quoting at some length:
"I found in Kabul, the capital of the country, a deteriorating situation, in any human terms, and a reality that’s much worse on the ground than what we get through the news media or even from Capitol Hill among people who are now portrayed as dissenters.
We just heard Nancy Pelosi talking about metrics, which is a new sort of buzzword in politics in Washington dealing with Afghanistan. I’ve got a few metrics for the Speaker of the House and the people of this country. When you have only ten percent of the money from the US government that is for non-military activities flowing into Afghanistan, you have upwards of $150 million a day going there, while the US is widely and increasingly resented for killing civilians, often from the air. You have, as I met at a refugee camp, 700 families in Kabul displaced, and that’s just one of the refugee camps, displaced from US bombing efforts in southern Helmand, including a seven-year-old girl who now has one arm courtesy of US taxpayers. So we have a lot of metrics.
And here’s one more. The latest CIA fact book tells us that out of a thousand live births in Afghanistan, there are 154 deaths among infants below age one. That’s a death rate among infants of more than 15 percent in Afghanistan. That’s the metric that we should be taking on. This administration and the US government is waving the white flag against the biggest enemy in Afghanistan, which is poverty."
We haven't been hearing about these metrics on CBC's The National, either.
As an Obama supporter and delegate during the Democratic Party leadership race, Solomon was asked whether he was yet disillusioned by President Obama:
"You know, I haven’t met a progressive yet who would just as soon have John McCain as president. That said, we always choose from the choices that we’re facing at a particular time. And while, as I said a year ago, the best way not to become disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place, my somewhat low expectations from President Obama have not been met. This guy has rushed into the arms of what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.
And I would say that, whether it’s Obama or even the voices such as now being heard from Capitol Hill from some Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, we depend on them for a sane foreign policy at our peril and the peril of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We’re going to have to do it from the grassroots. That’s always been the case. The warfare state perpetuates itself. We need to pursue a different vision. And we will be able to do that effectively, if we stick to the grassroots work and do the organizing effectively."
Solomon was on DN! to introduce a new anti-war initiative together with the irrepressible Medea Benjamin of Codepink. They are calling for a "near-term withdrawal from Afghanistan." It's short of a call for an immediate pull-out, thus it might win the support of Liberal senator Colin Kenny, who recently kick-started a more serious discussion on the war -- at least amongst Canada's establishment -- with an op-ed last week.
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