By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies
Looking back on it now, the 1990s were an age of innocence for America. The Cold War was over and our leaders promised us a “peace dividend.” There was no TSA to make us take off our shoes at airports (how many bombs have they found in those billions of shoes?). The government could not tap a U.S. phone or read private emails without a warrant from a judge. And the national debt was only $5 trillion – compared with over $28 trillion today.
We have been told that the criminal attacks of September 11, 2001 “changed everything.” But what really changed everything was the U.S. government’s disastrous response to them.
That response was not preordained or inevitable, but the result of decisions and choices made by politicians, bureaucrats and generals who fueled and exploited our fears, unleashed wars of reprehensible vengeance and built a secretive security state, all thinly disguised behind Orwellian myths of American greatness. Continue reading
With food aid running out, Afghanistan is facing the collapse of basic services, said UN agencies on Tuesday, releasing a flash appeal for more than $600 million to support around 11 million across the crisis-wracked country to the end of the year.
The unfolding situation has caused significant disruption and threatens Afghanistan’s critical winter wheat season, which is about to begin, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned, ahead of a major fundraising conference which is slated to take place in Geneva on 13 September.
“One in three Afghans are acutely food insecure, a situation that is dramatic by any stretch of the imagination,” said FAO Director of the Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, speaking from Islamabad.
Emphasizing the dire situation in the country, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, warned that “basic services in Afghanistan are collapsing and food and other lifesaving aid is about to run out”.
In particular, Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative and head of the UN’s assistance mission in Afghanistan, said the world will urgently need to devise a “modus vivendi” to allow billions of dollars in frozen donor funds, to flow into Afghanistan’s fragile economy.
Before I joined CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace, I served 29 years in the U.S. Army as a Colonel and 16 years in the State Department as a U.S. diplomat stationed all over the world. That included Afghanistan, where I helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban. Now, 20 years later, I am appealing to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to keep our embassy in Kabul open and provide humanitarian funding for the crisis in Afghanistan.
I hope the Biden administration is sincere in its promise that it will not abandon the Afghan people after 20 years of occupying their country. I hope it sincerely wants to provide humanitarian assistance to help ease the crisis, as well as for long-term health, education, and infrastructure projects. After all, if we could spend an average of $300 million a day on war, we can certainly find the funds to save Afghan lives.
According to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, there are over three million Afghan internal refugees in dire need of food, shelter, clean water, and medical care. The UNHCR has issued an urgent appeal for $350 million–less than the cost of two days of war. The U.S. should pay the bulk of this appeal.
I’m no supporter of the Taliban—its violence, its treatment of girls and women. But I don’t want the U.S. to retaliate against the people of Afghanistan by closing our Embassy and withholding desperately needed funds. Cutting aid to Afghanistan will only hurt Afghans, not the government.
In 2003, I publicly resigned from the U.S. State Department in protest of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I soon joined CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace and have devoted my life to writing, speaking and taking action to end U.S. wars and militarism. As a peace activist and citizen diplomat, I have been to Afghanistan several times in the past 20 years. I have seen, firsthand, how the people have suffered and how deeply they long for peace. That is why I am appealing to Secretary Blinken, and the entire Biden administration, to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open and provide humanitarian assistance for the millions of Afghans displaced by two decades of war.
Join my letter to Secretary Blinken calling for the U.S. Embassy to remain open and for the U.S. to fund the UNHCR as a first step towards accountability for all the damage we have caused in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.
By Marcy Winograd
The dog days of summer are upon us — and the record high temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and bringing 118 degree heat to Siberia serve as a harbinger of even hotter, more dangerous days unless we address the elephant in the room.
As the largest institutional consumer of oil and, therefore, largest U.S. emitter of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s), the Pentagon must reduce its carbon footprint — wars, weapons production — as well as its bootprint — tens of thousands of troops deployed, 800 overseas military bases and one under construction on Okinawa.
To avoid the worst of the climate crisis, President Biden, Congress and the public can reject an interventionist foreign policy fueled by the drive for full-spectrum dominance of the air, land, sea and space. Otherwise, we brace ourselves for ever rising sea levels: extreme weather, drought, famine — all of which, according to the World Bank, could result in 143-million climate refugees by 2050.