[pjw] REPORT BACK/FACTS: 20 Years in Afghanistan: Friday rally #81 since stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Oct 9 16:35:09 EDT 2021

Hello again people for peace

Breaking a bit from the usual format of these emails, I've pasted in the 
text of our fact sheet created for last night's special Friday rally "20 
Years Later, The Afghan War Is Not Really Over" (after the end of the 
report). The fact sheet was the basis of most of the rally talk last 
night. Feel free to share that text or to read/ forward the laid-out 
version at


Only five of us were present, maybe people are still hunkering down due to 
the pandemic or don't share our skepticism at the declared end to the war. 
While we had a lot of supportive passers-by again, one heckler tried 
interrupting my talk, screaming about how cars made it hard for him to 
breathe. He quieted down a little bit when I noted how our fact sheet 
talks about the US military being a huge contributor to climate change. He 
eventually grew tired of yelling, I think, and walked away.

Here is a summary of my intro, the points I lifted from the fact sheet, 
and the other things we talked about yesterday:

--On October 7, 2001 when the war began, hundreds of Portlanders gathered 
at an emergency rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza.

--The US' war is ongoing as proven by their "over the horizon" attack 
plans, the drone strikes conducted after the Kabul airport attacks, their 
asking NATO for help with future airstrikes, and their intent not to ask 
the Taliban before bombing again.

--The prison at Guantanamo remains open.

--The wars killed over 7000 Americans and 660,000 people from other 
countries, and cost over $8 trillion.

--The US and China will continue to tangle over the $1 trillion in 
minerals in Afghanistan. America is "pivoting" its military focus toward 

--The US is sending 2000 troops to Iraq for at least 9 months despite a 
pledge to replace combat troops with advisors by the end of 2021.

--Other US warfare continues in Yemen, Syria and Somalia, though no 
American attacks have been reported in Libya or Pakistan in the last 2-4 

--This was not America's longest war, titles that should go to the war on 
Native Americans, the Korean War and the war on Iraq.

I also noted the connection between the US military and local police, 
highlighting that a recent news story focusing on Portland officers 
complaining about lack of support and quitting seems to encourage the 
(shady) idea of letting cops retire and then come back to earn both their 
retirement pay AND a salary.


Along the march route, I relayed the information that Israeli settlers in 
the occupied territories have increased their attacks on Palestinians 
two-fold in the last two years. There were about 400 attacks in 2019, 500 
in 2020, and over 400 in just the first six months of 2021.


As we headed back to the Square, to cover the "money for human needs not 
war" topic, I noted that the Congressional Budget Office has proposed $1 
trillion in cuts to the military budget over the next ten years. This 
would only be a 14% reduction. Do you think the Democrats, who padded 
President Biden's proposed budget with an additional $25 billion this 
year, will take the CBO's advice?


The Gucci store's evil emissions once again knocked out the Ann Huntwork 
Peace Memorial Sign along SW 4th Ave.

As always we welcome more folks to join us any week at 5 PM at the SW 
corner of Pioneer Courthouse Square, masked up and distanced.

Check out the full fact sheet text, below.


dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


20 Years Later, The Afghan War Isn't Really Over
October 8, 2021

October 7 marked 20 years since the US invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 
the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC. While President Biden 
followed through on Donald Trump's pledge to pull at US troops out of 
Afghanistan, the war has not ended. The US has made clear their intention 
to continue using airstrikes from "over-the-horizon" positions, a tactic 
that was used during the pullout with disastrous consequences. Furthermore, 
the detention facility at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which 
was set up in January 2002 to house so-called "terrorists," remains open 
with 39 prisoners, including many who have been cleared for release and/or 
who have never faced trial. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military 
Force which intended to target Al Qaeda in Afghanistan remains in place and 
was used to justify other US military actions including those in Pakistan, 
Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. A separate 2002 AUMF designed to allow 
the US to attack Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has been repealed by the 
US House, but not yet in the Senate (The Hill, 8/3).

The wars that began in 2001 are estimated to have killed over 7000 
Americans and at least 660,000 people in other countries. The financial 
cost to the US including weaponry, military personnel, veteran care and the 
broad spying infrastructure set up in the wake of 9/11 is estimated at over 
$8 trillion (Brown University Costs of War project, 9/21).

The US has stated that it does not intend to alert the Taliban to future 
drone strikes in Afghanistan (Military Times, 9/24). The second drone 
strike the US initiated after an attack on the Kabul airport during the 
evacuation of Americans and Afghans killed ten civilians, including a man 
who worked for a US nonprofit and several children. The US admitted no 
militants were killed in that blast (New York Post, 9/10).

The battle for the future of Afghanistan also includes the estimated $1 
trillion in minerals under Afghan soil, to which China has turned its eyes. 
Surely the US will not tolerate Chinese dominance in the region, as one 
goal stated by President Biden in removing the troops from Afghanistan was 
to reposition them for potential war with China and Russia (Associated 
Press, 6/25). The US has run a number of military operations, including 
sailing warships through the strait of Taiwan at least eight times in 2021, 
to "send a message" to China (US Navy, 8/27). They also created a new 
military alliance with the UK and Australia (involving the sale of nuclear 
submarines, leading to diplomatic fallout with France) which is aimed at 
China (Associated Press, 9/21).

President Biden's stated desire to bring a close to the endless wars is 
admirable and seems to meet those of people who work for peace. However, it 
is difficult to take him at his word with the "pivot" to China, the 
positioning of drones, and his threat after the Kabul airport attack to 
"hunt you down and make you pay." These are not the words of a man of 

Congress also plays a role in perpetuating the wars. The US presence in 
Yemen predates the civil war mostly fueled by the involvement of Saudi 
Arabia. Congress tried to get President Trump to end support for the Saudi 
war, and out of only eight vetoes, Trump used three to overturn those 
efforts. Although Congress has put a provision in the spending bill for 
2021-22 to end support for the Saudi war, there has been no effort to stop 
US so-called "anti-terrorism" activity there, which began with the first 
known drone strikes in the world in 2004. Over 344 US strikes in Yemen have 
killed at least 209 civilians since then (Airwars.org and 

President Biden made an incorrect statement when talking about the Afghan 
withdrawal, claiming the US has no military presence in Syria. However, 
there are an estimated 900 troops there (Fox News, 8/19), not invited by 
the Syrian Government, nor authorized by acts of Congress or the United 

After a lull in the first six months after Biden took over from Trump, who 
increased drone and conventional aircraft strikes in Somalia from under 25 
per year to over 50 in 2019-20, airstrikes in that beleaguered nation have 
continued. Trump oversaw six airstrikes in Somalia in January (Military 
Times, 1/6), and Biden six more since July (Airwars.org).

After over 550 airstrikes, the US attacks on Libya seem to have stopped in 
2019, though the US/NATO war there in 2011 threw that country into chaos 
from which they are only now starting to emerge (NewAmerica.org). No drone 
strikes have occurred in Pakistan since 2017, though 414 were conducted 
from 2004 until then. Other than these two exceptions, the never-ending 
wars continue.


Conventional pundits continue to refer to Afghanistan as "America's longest 
war," ignoring the war against Native Americans that began before the US 
was even a nation and continued into the early 20th Century (and some would 
say continues today by subtle means). The Korean War started in 1950 and 
was put on hold with an armistice in July 1953, but there was never a peace 
treaty calling an end to that war. The war against Iraq began when the US 
imposed the most stringent sanctions in history in August 1990, bombed Iraq 
in 1991 and continued both of those strategies up until the invasion in 
2003. With 2500 American troops still in Iraq today, that war has gone on 
at least 31 years. The US claims it will be swapping out combat troops for 
"military advisors" by the end of 2021 (CNN, 7/26), a job description that 
was given to the first troops in Viet Nam. However, in September a 
contingent of 2000 troops was announced for a nine month tour in Iraq, 
showing even this latest declared "end" to that war is dubious (Middle East 
Eye, 9/20).

President Biden astutely called attention to the fact that soldiers heading 
over to Afghanistan were not yet born at the time the war started. (Peace 
and Justice Works held an event in 2019 called "The Military's New Recruits 
Are 9/11 Children" on this topic.)

The fact is that the public is weary of the never-ending wars, with 51% 
opposing more military action in an August poll from Concerned Veterans of 
America. Yet Congress has authorized one of the largest military budgets in 
US history, padding Biden's request with an extra $25 billion for a total 
of $778 billion just in this coming fiscal year (The Hill, 9/23). They 
pledged to fund the military to the tune of $8 trillion in the next decade 
(MSNBC, 10/1). And yet, so-called fiscal conservatives fight tooth and nail 
against things like the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would 
provide for human needs like education, housing and health care.


Trump also vetoed a bill that would have limited his ability to start a war 
with Iran. Having withdrawn from the "nuclear deal," Trump assassinated a 
high-level Iranian military figure in January 2020, escalating tensions 
further. The Israeli government has (falsely) claimed that Iran is on the 
brink of obtaining a nuclear weapon (Al Jazeera 9/5), and that if the US 
does not act militarily, they will (Times of Israel, 9/9). President Biden 
has not yet rejoined the nuclear deal almost nine months into his 
presidency and has done little to offer relief to the sanctions that have 
kept Iran from meeting the needs of its people, including combating COVID.

Biden also continues to make Russia into a potential enemy, especially 
focusing on cyberwarfare (Reuters, 7/28). He has made no effort to continue 
diplomatic ties with North Korea, as imperfect as Trump's foray into that 
arena were.

And while the actions and rhetoric are less strident than under Trump, the 
US also continues its hostile posture toward Venezuela by recognizing an 
opposition leader who was never elected. Sanctions continue, in part 
because Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves.


Despite the huge uprisings against racist and violent policing following 
the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, Congress has 
failed to take actions to rein in the militarized and mostly unaccountable 
profession of police. PJW likens the police to a local version of the 
military-- led by a civilian, people in uniform enforce state policy using 
violence. The US military is the largest non-state consumer of fossil 
fuels, ensuring that climate change won't go away until we stop the wars. 
International pacts seeking to control climate change have explicitly 
excluded military pollution.

The US has also perpetuated the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by almost 
universally siding with Israel and, against international norms, moving its 
embassy to Jerusalem rather that keeping it in Tel Aviv, the UN-recognized 

And, even though President Biden's speech at the UN in September announced 
that the US was back as a global partner to the rest of the world, America 
has still not signed on as a party to the International Criminal Court, 
meaning war crimes such as the Kabul drone strike may never be prosecuted 
(Al Jazeera, 9/27).


The war in Afghanistan, it is said, was lost many years ago. With our 
country in crisis, it is unthinkable to keep spending money on war instead 
of human needs. The rise of the US security state and backlash against 
Arabs, Muslims and immigrants in the US was another inappropriate response 
to 9/11, when the world was ready to stand with America. It is time to end 
all state-sponsored violence perpetuated by our own country so that human 
rights, and civil liberties can flourish globally.

Fact sheet created by the Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, 
October 2021.

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