"We cannot allow any president to shift focus to Afghanistan"
By Camilo Mejia
During the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) requested that moderator Bob Schieffer allow them to ask each candidate a question.
The question for Sen. McCain was about veterans’ benefits since, being a war veteran and former POW himself, he should have a better voting record when it comes to veterans’ well-being. The question for Sen. Obama, who voted against the invasion of Iraq and called the invasion illegal at one point, focused on whether he would be willing to support soldiers who wanted to become conscientious objectors.
Not only was IVAW not able to ask the questions, but we were attacked by the Hempstead mounted police. Ten of our members, along with some civilian activists, were arrested, and two of our members were injured, one suffering a broken cheekbone.
Neither candidate mentioned either Iraq or Afghanistan during the entire 90-minute debate.
The promise of a better nation, one whose resources are dedicated to improving social conditions and where wealth is distributed to lift up the working ranks of society, rings hollow when military veterans can’t ask a question without being violently repressed.
All this is to say that regardless of who gets elected, the work of building a better world remains in the hands of the people and rests on our ability to assert ourselves as the true architects of our future.
Obama is regarded as the antiwar candidate for having voted against the invasion of Iraq and for promising a progressive withdrawal of troops from that country, and both he and McCain have spoken about the success of the troop “surge” in Iraq.
But to seriously address the situation in Iraq and the eventual withdrawal from it would require Obama to address the 180,000 private contractors in Iraq, the permanent military bases, and the diplomatic and corporate complex from which the U.S. government intends to run the country. And of course, the “success” of the surge fails to recognize that more than half of the population of Iraq is either displaced, in need of emergency aid or dead.
The “global war on terror,” the name given by the past and now present administrations to justify profit-driven invasions and occupations, needs a new centerpiece.
The Iraq war has become too unpopular to continue justifying the U.S. imperial agenda.
We cannot allow any president to shift focus to Afghanistan in order to continue American warmongering.
President Obama has promised to continue pouring troops into that country and to see the war spill into Pakistan if he deems it necessary.
The antiwar movement has to realize the need to continue the struggle for peace and justice, a struggle that starts at home where, in opposing costly and illegal wars of aggression, we wage battles against poverty, racism and exploitation of the working class by the ruling elite.
Only by building a true grassroots movement to combat a corporate-controlled government will we be able to create a world where peace, justice and social equality can prevail.
This is the work of the people, not of the politicians, regardless of who is president.
It has been going on, it continues, it can never stop, not for one minute.
Nick Morgan, former Army Sergeant, was trampled, knocked out, and his face crushed by the hoof of a horse outside the last presidential debate. Police left him unconscious on the sidewalk for up to ten minutes before arresting him. Morgan was initially refused medical treatment beyond a simple piece of gauze taped to his face. His right cheek bone was clearly displaced and pushed back into his skull.
For more, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxhuZeq_7yQ