Maybe the focus in the US on the economy will help."
A press release sent out on the eve of Obama's inauguration by Courage to Resist and Direct Action to Stop the War, a San Franciscobased organization that coordinated nonviolent opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, stated that both groups are urging the new President not to escalate the war in Afghanistan, to stop attacks inside Pakistan, and to cut military aid to governments that violate human rights or international law, "such as Israel, in what Amnesty International calls an 'unlawful attack' on Gaza."
The release came just days after Clinton said, during her confirmation hearing, that she and Obama "understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets. However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians."
"This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasting peace agreement that brings real security to Israel; normal and positive relations with its neighbors; and independence, economic progress, and security to the Palestinians in their own state," Clinton elaborated, adding that Obama is committed to "responsibly ending the war in Iraq and employing a broad strategy in Afghanistan that reduces threats to our safety and enhances the prospect of stability and peace."
In the November 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs, Barnett Rubin, director of Studies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University and Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and a fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy, outlined the steps that they believe are critical for those serious about ending the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond.
Stating that sending more troops to Afghanistan "would be insufficient to reverse the collapse of security there," the authors opined that "A major diplomatic initiative involving all the regional stakeholders in problem-solving talks and setting out road maps for local stabilization efforts is more important."
Arguing that such an initiative would reaffirm that the West as a whole is committed to the long-term rehabilitation of Afghanistan and the region, they recommended that the West with support from if not led by the US back that commitment with measures to address economic development, job creation, the drug trade, and border disputes.
"The goal of the next US president must be to put aside the past, Washington's keenness for "victory" as the solution to all problems, and the United States' reluctance to involve competitors, opponents, or enemies in diplomacy," Rubin and Rashid wrote. "
But the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition is reemphasizing the importance of building an independent people's movement and ending imperialist occupations, wherever and whenever they occur. "We are for immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan," San Franciscobased A.N.S.W.E.R. organizer Saul Kanowitz told us. "There are those in the Obama administration who say that Iraq is the wrong war, in the wrong place, but we are against all US imperial conquests abroad."
Noting that he doesn't believe there is a fundamental difference between Bush's and Obama's policies on Afghanistan, Kanowitz says, "It's just a tactical difference ... withdrawing US troops from direct engagement with Iraq, because they don't believe US can't win there, and redeploying them to Afghanistan, where they believe they can it's the same strategy. It's about maintaining dominance.