Afghanistan is Just as Bad as Iraq

It’s just that we talk less about the violence and destruction of our occupation in Afghanistan. I am growing concerned about Obama’s stated interest in escalating our occupation of Afghanistan, when just as in Iraq, we need to acknowledge the limits of military solutions to international problems.

Code Pink is concerned too, and sent out a message about how to press for more honesty about the violence that is a result of our occupation. They want to move Obama on this issue, which I think is a great idea.

This was on my mind today because I caught this excellent and brief Democracy Now piece features Sonali Kolhatkar. Kolhatkar is an international correspondent who is pressing the case that if we were paying closer attention, we would be just as appalled with the results of Afghanistan occupation as we are with the Iraq occupation.  From her interview with Amy Goodman:

Afghanistan is just as much a failure as Iraq, OK? We are using the same tactics. We are rounding people up, detaining them, bombing civilians. Associated Press did a count earlier in the year of how many civilians the Taliban had claimed to kill versus how many officially killed by NATO. Guess what? NATO was winning that count. NATO had killed actually more civilians than the Taliban. And we have not heard about that. Afghanistan, just as much a failure as Iraq.

Why Provoke Iran? Do We Need More Wars?

No, we don’t need a war with Iran. As if we haven’t created enough problems occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, now we’re going to blockade Iran? What purpose does a blockade serve except to provoke them? True Majority sent me this action alert about opposing HR 362. And United for Peace and Justice has called for three days of action, July 19-21.

All this comes on the heels of the New Yorker article that came out earlier this month about how we’re spending $400 million to destabilize the government of Iran, and look around for nuclear weapons that our own intelligence assessments say don’t seem to exist.

And of course, here in Portland, we have already passed a public declaration of our opposition to military action against Iran. We passed it last March and then we reiterated it to our congressional delegation in June.

And yet, they need to be reminded more. To keep track of the status of HR 362, I’m found a widget from Open Congress:

Don’t attack Iran!

Youth Should Not Be Locked Up With Adults

The NYTimes has written an editorial in support of the re-authorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinqunecy Prevention Act, a law designed to set the standard for the protection youth who are accused of crimes. It’s apalling that we would even consider locking up teenagers with adults while they are awaiting trial, and yet, states still do that.

I learned about this backward practice when I got to interview Liz Ryan last year for Justice Matters. One thing she said that really stuck with me:

The Casey Institute looked at data about youth in juvenile detention in Delaware. Breaking it out, they noticed a bunch of youth sitting in detention for a long period of time, charged as adults. In some cases, youth were waiting up to a year for a date in adult court. Then the adult court judge would review the case and send it back to the youth system based on it not being appropriate for adult court! So they would spend a year locked up even if the appropriate sanction was 90 days. That’s not fair, not humane. So the state reviewed the law and changed it, acknowledging that these youth should not be in adult court.

Yes, if that happened to a youth I loved, I would be besides myself trying to figure out how to keep this from ever happening. And luckily, I would have theCampaign for Youth Justice to help me navigate the system and find ways to take action.

We need to follow their lead with a push to end the practice of locking up youth in adult prisons, start using detention wisely and with restraint, and focus on funding community-based youth programs that prevent crime and get youth the support they need to become the adults they can be.