The war in Afghanistan is expanding and widening. President Obama announced last week that another 17,000 troops are on their way to Afghanistan. Only 18 percent of Afghanis support this escalation and only 34 percent of the people of the United States approve of the added troops despite the president’s popularity, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll announced on February 17, 2009. This is a colonial war. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was not involved in the decision to add more occupying troops into his country. Rather, he was “informed of the deployments in a telephone call with Obama” on February 17, according to the Washington Post (February 18, 2009).
About 350,000 U.S. troops and U.S.-paid private contractors (mercenaries) still occupy Iraq. The Iraqi people want the occupation to end. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is insisting that only two of the 14 combat brigades in Iraq exit in 2009. The war and occupation of Iraq costs $430 million each day. If the U.S. government were to end the military occupation, any and all future Iraqi governments would return to a position of political independence from the economic and political dictates of the United States. Iraq’s anti-colonial legacy has created a political reality that prohibits the country from becoming like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia--an out-and-out dependency on U.S. imperialism. That is the real reason that the U.S. government fears a complete disengagement from Iraq and an end to its military occupation.
Israel’s Siege of Gaza remains in place, with the full backing of Washington. The U.S. government has continued to fund Israel’s war and blockade against the people of Gaza. The Pentagon provided the funding, and technical and logistical support for the establishment of the Israeli war machine, including its massive cluster and white phosphorous bomb arsenal, and the country’s large cache of nuclear bombs.
The new Justice Department has announced that it will continue the policy of renditions, meaning the CIA and Pentagon will capture and kidnap individuals anywhere in the world and transfer them to other countries. “The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” (LA Times, Feb. 1, 2009)
The new administration has stepped up the air strikes that are killing an increasingly large number of Pakistani civilians. Unmanned drone bombing attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty and are creating an ocean of resentment and anger inside of Pakistan. The U.S. government has no right to carry out these drone bombing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The people of the United States would not accept the legitimacy of other governments ordering air attacks in the United States. We must openly and loudly reject such tactics by the government that speaks in our name and spends our tax dollars for such aggression.
The real Pentagon war budget is over $1.3 trillion annually. This is greater than the combined total of most of the other countries in the world, including all the NATO countries, and Russia and China. Some label this “waste spending” because it spends precious resources to build exotic and high cost weapons, a new generation of nuclear weapons, and space-based war fighting capabilities, while filling the coffers of the big investors (i.e., the biggest banks) in the war corporations. Pentagon contracting is often based on guaranteed “cost-plus” contracts that reward price gouging since corporate profit is based on a fixed percentage above their expenses. Another label for this process is “extreme corruption” and theft from the public treasury.
More than 20 million people are now unemployed and under-employed. Nine million families are either in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure this year, according to the statistics just released by the government. Forty-seven million people are without health care. College tuition hikes are soaring and millions of students are at risk of being forced out of school. The people want change. They don’t want a simple tweaking of Bush’s criminal foreign policies. They want to put people's needs before corporate greed. They want an end to wars of aggression that are wreaking havoc, death and destruction abroad, and diverting urgently needed resources in the service of semi-colonialism and Empire.