2009/03/25:CAN delivers bottom up change for campus - Todd Dennis

CAN delivers bottom up change for campus

by Todd Dennis

Badger Herald

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 22:59

Yesterday, this paper published an op-ed trashing the Campus Antiwar Network for attempting to get students involved working against the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. The writer claimed these wars are not connected and the activism of opposing the militarism of the U.S. was silly.

First off, he needs to read his history on the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which has been a NATO operation only since 2003. It was invaded first by the CIA and Special Operations Forces, followed by regular U.S. military forces in the fall of 2001. The U.N. had a mandate for operations beginning in December 2001, which was succeeded by the NATO mandate. Claiming there is no justification for occupying this country around oil ignores the work prior to Sept. 11, 2001, to try to create a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan from the Caspian Sea. This agreement, called the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, was signed in December 2002 while the country was occupied by foreign forces. The primary motivation is control of the oil flow and supply from neighboring rivals Russia and China. Calling for immediate withdrawal acknowledges there is no military solution for terrorism, and sending more military members into harm’s way doesn’t help people in the U.S. or Afghanistan to be safer.

Iraq was invaded for a clear set of reasons; you can find them in the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by with bipartisan support, and over 60 percent of Democrats in each house supported the measure. The goals of the invasion were to make Iraq comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and to defend the sovereignty of the U.S. against the threat posed by Iraq. With those goals accomplished, why should the U.S. continue to occupy the country unless there are ulterior motives such as controlling resources like oil so China and other expanding countries cannot access them?

Citing 16 months as the timetable is resorting to campaign promises made by the president, and just like getting a dog for his children, we see how well he keeps this one. It has already been pushed back into a 19-month timetable with “support troops” being created out of the troops already there in harm’s way no matter what their precious designation was. Arguing for an immediate withdrawal says we want all troops to leave, not just those who won’t be re-designated with another mission next year.

As far as the Belfour agreement, it states, “Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” I don’t know about you, but to me that means forcefully removing occupants of homes to create settlements is not allowed. If it were not for the foreign military aid to the tune of $3.1 billion, the majority of which was from the U.S., the occupation of the Palestinian territories and forceful expansion of Israeli settlements would not be possible.

Before rebuking the efforts of campus activists trying to create change from the ground up like the president expects, and instead of using simple arguments, some research would be helpful. Obama said, “I have always said that I don’t think that the LGBT community should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.”

Todd Dennis (todd@ivaw.org) is an alumnus with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. During his time at UW, he worked with the Campus Antiwar Network. He was in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1997 to 2003 and is a board member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace. He is currently an outreach staff member at the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.