Washington threatens new military strikes

By DANIEL XAVIER

 As the presidential election rapidly approaches, it is predictably clear that the imperialist foreign policy agenda of the U.S. government will continue to advance unabated regardless of whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney occupies the White House come January. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner (!), has continued and expanded U.S. military aggression abroad by bombing or sending troops to Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Haiti, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Iraq—to name a few of his targets. Romney’s campaign offers little alternative to the imperialist assaults carried out by the Democratic and Republican administrations for the last decade.

Following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that left an American ambassador dead, many are predicting another military action in Libya. The Obama administration continues to raise the specter of al-Qaeda to justify its warmongering policies abroad. According to the Washington Post, for several months the White House has met secretly to “examine the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa and consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes.” Use of drones may factor in prominently to any military intervention the United States makes in North Africa.

Obama, who massively expanded the drone program in Pakistan, defended the use of drone strikes in a January interview, stating that “drones have actually not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part they have been very precise.” But a recent report, entitled “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan,” contradicts statements issued by government officials about the true effects of drone warfare. The report, which was a joint project of law professors at Stanford and New York University, describes how the government repeatedly under-reports civilian casualty rates by categorizing many victims as “combatants” and undermines efforts of other organizations to follow up on the site of drone strikes.

Obama’s war policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan have failed to achieve success in political terms and have only wrought more devastation in the region.

A delegation of U.S. antiwar activists, organized by Code Pink and including leading members of the United National Antiwar Coalition, is on an investigative and solidarity tour of regions of Pakistan that have been hit by U.S. drones. The delegation’s march to the Federal Administrative Tribal Areas—where they have hoped to hold a rally against drones—has been big news in Pakistan and worldwide. The delegation members intend to interview families of drone victims, and will report their findings to meetings planned for a number of U.S. cities upon their return.

Meanwhile, Israel and the United States continue to saber-rattle and make war threats against Iran. At a recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines with his stage-prop display of a cartoonish bomb diagram, apparently depicting that Iran was nearing the final stage of acquiring a nuclear weapon and could have enriched enough uranium to create a bomb as early as summer 2013.

While his speech was the butt of many jokes in the media, such as on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, the implications of Israel’s policy objectives are not so funny. Netanyahu stressed that sanctions and diplomacy were doomed to failure, implying that military action may be necessary to stop Iran. He stated: “Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.” While it is still unclear whether the U.S. or Israel are ready take military action in the Persian Gulf, activists must be on guard to oppose these ongoing attempts to demonize Iran in order to justify a new war.

The United National Antiwar Coalition is at the forefront of the struggle against war and political repression. UNAC co-sponsored a series of actions around the country, set for the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, to demonstrate against imperialist wars abroad and to defend civil liberties at home. UNAC and their allies in New York City, including Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), the Islamic Leadership Council of NY, the Muslim Peace Coalition, and Black is Back, held a rally outside the state building in Harlem. Actions also took place in Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and other cities.

Photo: Mark Ostapiak / Socialist Action