Although the Media and the President Seem to Ignore it, Americans Continue to Kill and Die in the Middle East. Why?

(Text of the flyer for the regular monthly demonstration by the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort of Champaign IL, 6 Feb 2010)

It’s not “because of 9/11” or to “stop terrorism,” as President Obama now says. The war is neither just nor legal: the real reason for it seems to be the long-standing U.S. policy of control over the largest oil-producing region of the world. And not because we need the oil ourselves; the US imports very little oil from the Middle East for use here at home. Most of the energy resources that we consume in the US come from the Americas and West Africa. But control of Mideast oil and gas gives the US government a powerful bargaining chip in its relations with its real economic competitors in the world – the European Union and East Asia (China and Japan). That has been American policy for a long time. The National Security Advisor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration (1977-81), Zbigniew Brzezinski (he was also a foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign), observed that control of Mideast energy provides the US with “critical leverage” over its industrial rivals in Europe and Asia, an idea of American government planners that goes back to the end of World War II, in 1945.

The war in Afghanistan, to which President Obama sent 30,000 additional US troops just before accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, got exactly ninety-two words in his more than hour-long State of the Union Address last month. Last year he called Afghanistan “the central front of the War on Terrorism.” This year it is revealed that he is conducting a secret war in neighboring Pakistan, a much bigger and more modern country, with two-thirds of the population of the United States and a numerically bigger army – but potentially a more dangerous road-block to American control of the entire Mideast. The vast region from Palestine to Pakistan, from the Caspian Sea to the Horn of Africa – what the US military calls “Central Command” – contains much of the world’s oil and gas resources. Over 60 years ago, the State Department described the oil reserves of the region as “a stupendous source of strategic power” and “one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” The same factors enter into the conflicts over pipelines from Central Asia: US planners want to ensure that they go to the West, not the East, and that the pipelines should follow a complicated path to avoid Russia and Iran, so as to ensure US control.

President Obama sharply escalated President Bush’s war in Afghanistan, even though Western-run polls show that about 75 percent of Afghans are in favor of negotiations among Afghans – including both the US puppet government and the Taliban, whom the US calls terrorists (or, as Secretary of State Clinton said recently, “Really bad guys”). There are now more than 110,000 troops under U.S. command in Afghanistan, including more than 34,000 European troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer informed a NATO meeting that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West,” and more generally have to protect sea routes used by tankers and other “crucial infrastructure” of the energy system. So the strongest armies in the world are “fighting terrorism” by killing people in villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan requires a regional solution instead, in which the neighboring countries – Iran, India, Russia, China – work out a settlement and Afghans work something out among themselves. There is a significant peace movement in Afghanistan. Afghans themselves should make the decision about when and how the US and NATO – who have no right to be there – should leave.

Meanwhile the US military continues to occupy Iraq, where the US has just announced that it will double the size of its embassy – already by far the largest in the world. Iraq has the second largest known reserves of oil in the world (after Saudi Arabia). The US is also killing people in Yemen and Somalia. A look at the map will show why. These countries are on the approaches to the Middle East. The US insists on controlling by various means the entire region within a 1500-mile radius of the Persian Gulf. “Terrorists,” according to the US government, are those who oppose the US occupation.

Israel, America’s stationary aircraft-carrier in the Mideast,
sent US-supplied aircraft to attack the Palestinians in Gaza, the world’s largest prison-camp, in December of 2008. They killed more than thirteen hundred people. Since then Israel has continued to blockade Gaza. AWARE Films will host a presentation by scholar-activist Robert Naiman at 2pm Sunday 14 February at the Champaign Public Library. Naiman will discuss the Gaza Freedom March and his December 2009 trip to the Middle East. Naiman coordinates Just Foreign Policy and is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. The talk is free and open to all. Join us for refreshments and after-talk discussion. For information call 352-2803.

Although known world-wide as “Bush’s poodle,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has had to testify before a commission investigating US-UK plotting to invade Iraq, while demonstrators chanted, “Liar! Murder!” Nothing similar has happened in the US to those who planned the illegal war or instituted the US torture of prisoners that accompanied it. And the Obama administration – which has not brought the torture regime to an end – continues to defend Bush administration criminals. This week the Obama administration cleared lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee of professional misconduct for crafting memos that justified water-boarding and other forms of torture. Protest John Yoo, War Criminal on Monday 8 February at 11am in Chicago in front of the Union League Club 65 W. Jackson Blvd., between Dearborn & Clark .

For a discussion of why the US government wages war
and misrepresents its reasons for it, see the informative book A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, and the new graphic novel A People’s History of American Empire, by historian Howard Zinn, who died last week at the age of 87.

THE WAR WILL CONTINUE until more Americans speak up loudly and reject it. A majority of Americans do reject it, but for the moment that is not enough for our government. If you are appalled that the U.S. is conducting an unjustified war in the Middle East – and misrepresenting the reason for it – call your Congressional representatives. Congressman Tim Johnson, Senator Roland Burris, and Senator Dick Durbin can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Tell them that the U.S. has no business killing people in the Middle East for resisting our invasion and occupation. (Your protest makes a difference: Congressman Johnson, who voted for the invasions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, now says that he was wrong to do so and refuses to vote for any more funding for war in the Middle East.)

Resistance in the military is growing.
This week the US military decided to transfer to Iraq the court martial of Iraq war veteran Spc. Marc Hall – for writing a song. Hall has been jailed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, since December 11 because he wrote a song called “Stop Loss” about the practice of involuntarily extending military members’ contracts. You can support him by calling Ft. Stewart Public Affairs Chief, Kevin Larson at 912-435-9879. Tell him that (1) you are opposed to holding Specialist Marc Hall’s court martial in Iraq and (2) all charges against him should be dropped. If you are a veteran, mention that during your call.

You can also join a local peace group that is working to end the war in Afghanistan. In Champaign-Urbana, one local peace group is AWARE, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort , members and friends of which produced this leaflet for the 6 February 2010 “Main Event” – our monthly peace demonstration in downtown Champaign, at the corner of Main and Neil Streets. We meet every Sunday 5-6:30pm in the Wahlfeldt Room in the basement of the old post office in Urbana. Visitors and new members are welcome.

AWARE is also happy to provide speakers and/or discussion leaders on the Mideast war and related issues. Write . AWARE is composed of people opposed to the war, but it is not affiliated with any other group or political party.

AWARE presents AWARE on the Air each Tuesday 10-11pm on Urbana Public Television, cable channel 6. Each week we bring you comments by members and friends of AWARE about the war and the opposition to it, locally and nationally, by Americans who oppose our government’s betrayal of our democratic principles.


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