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Peace & Nonviolence

'Plan B' For Afghanistan Aims To Spark Long Overdue Debate

The report's most important contribution is to lay out a "consensus view" that the current strategy in Afghanistan is not working; that it's actually making things worse; that it's not making us safer; that it's coming at a staggering and wildly disproportionate cost in blood and treasure; and that there needs to be an alternative approach.

Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

Nine long years into a war in Afghanistan that two out of three Americans no longer support, a group of disillusioned foreign policy experts is trying to kick-start an overdue national discussion about our goals in the region, and other ways that we might be able to achieve them.

Despite the growing opposition to the war outside the Beltway, there's been remarkably little serious debate about Afghan policy among those with the power to change it.

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A new report by the ad hoc Afghanistan Study Group, officially unveiled on Wednesday, aims to change all that.
Flatly declaring what has become increasingly obvious over time -- that our efforts in Afghanistan are not only failing, they are actually counterproductive -- the report provides something that some anti-war activists say has been sorely missing until now: A coherent alternative to the current approach.

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Veterans Target Of Deficit Commission?

Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange

Cenk Uygur, MSNBC, in Democratic Underground by ihavenobias

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Barbara Ross
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Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) filling in for Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC, breaks down deficit commission head Alan Simpson's latest outrageous comments about how veterans should voluntarily give up their disability benefits to help reduce the deficit.

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Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange, David Dayen, FireDogLake

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  • Maybe if Simpson and the ruling class weren’t so damned bloodthirsty, we wouldn’t have choices like this to make.
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  • Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson
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  • Show Alan Simpson, Vet Hater, the Door
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US 'likely to stay in Iraq beyond 2011'

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  • About 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq supposedly on 'training' and 'advisory' roles until a complete pull out.
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  • US officials are planning to employ thousands of private contractors mercenaries to conduct operations formerly performed by US troops.
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  • Fact Check: Is Iraq combat really over for US?
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From Citizens for Legitimate Government, in PressTV

Despite US announcement of complete withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, Washington will reportedly keep thousands of soldiers in the war-torn nation. American military experts said the remaining forces are expected to stay in Iraq beyond 2011 as a 'peacekeeping force' for a decade, AFP reported.

About 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq supposedly on 'training' and 'advisory' roles until a complete pull out. Meanwhile, US officials are planning to employ thousands of private contractors mercenaries to conduct operations formerly performed by US troops.

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Fact Check: Is Iraq combat really over for US? Calvin Woodward, Associated Press, New York Times | NY

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  • Despite President Barack Obama's declaration Tuesday (August 31) of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead.
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  • The occupation of Iraq isn't over - it's being rebranded
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Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange

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  • Maybe if Simpson and the ruling class weren’t so damned bloodthirsty, we wouldn’t have choices like this to make.
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  • Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson
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  • Show Alan Simpson, Vet Hater, the Door
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David Dayen, FireDogLake

Alan Simpson’s scorn for people who use federal money goes beyond… well, everyone, in the form of Social Security. He also doesn’t like it when Vietnam-era soldiers breathed Agent Orange and put their greedy little hands out to cough into them because they had respiratory trouble the rest of their lives.

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The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission said Tuesday (Aug 31).

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Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson,  David Dayen, FireDogLake

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  • It’s a fact of American life that veterans are seen as inviolate, and criticisms of veterans approaching treason.
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  • It’s one thing for Alan Simpson to call Social Security recipients greedy bastards, even though a chunk of them, a substantial chunk (almost half), includes military veterans. It’s quite another thing for him to go after veterans directly, as he did in denouncing disabled vets for luckily sucking up health care resources after exposure to Agent Orange.
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It's Time to Show Alan Simpson, Vet Hater, the Door, David Culver, Evergreene Digest

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  • I call on the Congress and President to show Alan Simpson to the door of the deficit commission’s deliberations and to restore honor and decency to our national conversation on veterans!
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  • I also call on my fellow citizens to hold their President, Congressional Representatives, and Senators accountable for removing Mr. Simpson by contacting them and reminding them that their oath of office demands meeting this country’s obligations to its veterans.
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  • Alan Simpson Condemns Disabled Vets for Breathing Agent Orange
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  • Veterans Group Calls for Removal of Alan Simpson
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Simpson: Veterans 'Not Helping Us' Save Country From Debt

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Aging vets' costs concern Obama's deficit co-chair

Brian Beutler, Talking Points Memo

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

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National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility co-chairman Alan Simpson

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If Social Security is "a cow with 310 million tits" then what's the proper metaphor for veteran's benefits? We don't know. But Alan Simpson seems to think they're too expensive. Or too overused. Or something. Anyway, it's bad.

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"The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess," said Alan Simpson, co-chair of the White House's fiscal commission, according to the Associated Press.

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Simpson was referring specifically to the disability benefits the Department of Veterans Affairs dispenses to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

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Aging vets' costs concern Obama's deficit co-chair, Mike Baker, AP News, in Talking Points Memo
VA's move to sweeten benefits for aging vets worries Obama deficit chair; Senate to review it.

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Rumsfeld Rules of Engagement Allowing 30 Innocent Civilian Murders for Every One High Value Target

God's reasoning is in inverse proportion to the Pentagon's. Then with the gift of God's son Jesus, the whole calculus of war is subtracted. "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Mt 5:44.

Michael McCarthy, Pax Vobiscum

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Gary Kohls

“…a former targeting expert who'd worked for the Pentagon in the initial "Shock and
Awe" campaign said (on National Public Radio’s “This American Life”) that the threshold ratio not to be exceeded was 30 civilians to be killed in order to execute one high value target.1

“There you have it--the morally callous thinking that is prohibited by the principles of our Christian faith. Decapitate the leadership to end the war sooner, despite "taking out" innocents at the same time. The concept of "collateral damage" has been invented to obfuscate the fact of the certain unavoidable deaths of great numbers of civilians in all of these wars fought in population centers, large and small.

“In Afghanistan / Pakistan this has been one of the major issues in the conduct of the war, with many innocents being killed in bombings and raids. Our armed forces are given woefully insufficient information on who is friend and who is foe, and more enemies are being created daily as more civilians die in Predator drone attacks and special forces missions. We might sometimes "get our man" but the local community is more deeply turned against us.

" [Classified] documents were posted by WikiLeaks, an organization dedicated to public disclosure, shortly before the Afghan government said (Monday, 7-26-10] that "up to" 52 Afghan civilians have been killed in a coalition rocket attack on a village in southern Helmand province [last week]." 2 The Afghan government is using the 90,000 pages to further their persistent demands, over the past 9 years of U.S. occupation, that civilians be protected.

“The ratio of 30 innocents that can be sacrificed for 1 bad insurgent, has not changed, to my knowledge, since instituted by Donald Rumsfeld’s Dept. of Defense--no public report of any alteration in these rules of engagement. Contrast these numbers with the dialogue between Abraham and God in last Sunday's Old Testament reading. [Gen 18:20-32] Abraham bargains for mercy with God – Sodom & Gomorrah are to be destroyed because of their tremendous evil. But will God destroy the innocent with the guilty? Would God spare the whole evil city if only 50 just individuals are found? The bargaining continues by tens down to 10, and God agrees. If only 10 innocent are found then a whole city of evil-doers survives.

“God's reasoning is in inverse proportion to the Pentagon's. Then with the gift of God's son Jesus, the whole calculus of war is subtracted. "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you." Mt 5:44.”

1 At 21 minutes into This American Life, Act 1, Mark Velasco tells his story of being a targeter for the Pentagon. [This is the only place in the media I've seen this discussed--worth listening to the whole program]: Stream the story at:
<http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/300/Whats-In-A-Number>

2 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704700404575391164167045700.html?mod=WSJ_newsreel_world

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Fact Check: Is Iraq combat really over for US?

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  • Despite President Barack Obama's declaration Tuesday (August 31) of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead.
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  • The occupation of Iraq isn't over - it's being rebranded
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Calvin Woodward, Associated Press, New York Times | NY

Iraqi policemen stand guard at a check point in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the end of American combat operations Tuesday leaves his country independent and an equal to the United States and he assured his people their own security forces will protect them.

Despite President Barack Obama's declaration Tuesday (August 31) of an end to the combat mission in Iraq, combat almost certainly lies ahead.

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And in asserting the U.S. has met its responsibilities in Iraq, the president opened the door wide to a debate about the meaning of success in the muddle that most — but not all — American troops are leaving behind.

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A look at some of the statements Obama made in his Oval Office speech and how they compare with the facts:
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The occupation of Iraq isn't over - it's being rebranded, Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait

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  • The occupation of Iraq is only being re-branded, not ended. Despite President Obama's fallacious claims that the war in Iraq is winding down, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is deploying!
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  • We Are Not Your Soldiers!
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  • Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord's Eyewitness Story
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Medal of Honor

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  • "It's fun killing people.  I get to roam around and feel like soldiers feel. I've played the bad guys before, but this will be even better because it's based on the real thing. You don't want to hurt other Americans, but you've got to win the game.” --A 13 year old player.
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  • The Killing Games We Play
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  • War Games: Army Lures Civilians By Letting Them Play Soldier
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  • Going to the Mines to Look for Diamonds
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Wikipedia

Medal of Honor (MoH) is the name of a series of first-person shooter games set in World War II, and with an upcoming title based on the conflicts of present day Afghanistan that will be released in October 2010.

The first game was developed by DreamWorks Interactive (currently known as Danger Close) and published by Electronic Arts in 1999 for the PlayStation game console. Medal of Honor spawned a series of follow-up games including multiple expansions spanning various console platforms and the PC and Apple Mac. The series was created by filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

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The Killing Games We Play, Coleen Rowley, Evergreene Digest

The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq criticizes the fact that “In 'Medal of Honor,' gamers can play Taliban and kill U.S. soldiers” (article 8/27/2010) but sadly enough, the mother apparently can’t let herself see how the present wars do, in fact, resemble a giant game, certainly to the politicians, generals and war profiteers who started them and who play with others’ lives. 

Meanwhile, the 13 year old kid who exclaims: "It's fun killing people.  I get to roam around and feel like soldiers feel. I've played the bad guys before, but this will be even better because it's based on the real thing. You don't want to hurt other Americans, but you've got to win the game,” will probably find it easy in a few years to move from one killing game to the next. 

In the end we all lose this game.

War Games: Army Lures Civilians By Letting Them Play Soldier, Joseph De Avila, Wall Street Journal | NY

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  • Recruiters Bring Lifelike Videogame To Amusement Parks, and Kids Love It
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  • The Virtual Army Experience -- a traveling exhibit of the U.S. Army -- has been touring the country for the past year and a half, stopping at amusement parks, air shows and county fairs. The Army, which collects information from the thousands of people who play the game, says it's an innovative way to reach a new audience. But critics don't like the idea of the military using giant videogames as a recruiting tool.
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Going to the Mines to Look for Diamonds ~ Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., and C. Christine Fair, Google Books
Experimenting with Recruiting Stations in Malls
Read free...

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