President Obama’s toughest challenge will be to win over his most loyal political supporters. He is facing a growing revolt in the Democratic Party over why the US needs to be in Afghanistan at all when the real threat, Al-Qaeda, is in Pakistan, and over the spiraling cost in both lives and dollars.
Peace activists groups that largely supported the Obama campaign for President plan to hold a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday shortly before Obama is expected to announce that he will send more troops to Afghanistan.
Obama, scheduled to speak at 8 p.m., will detail plans to send up to 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan, which the United States invaded a month after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Activists are planning to begin gathering at 6 p.m. at Veterans Park on Main Street in Highland Falls. The park is just outside the West Point campus.
Following speeches and a rally at 6:30 p.m., participants carrying candles and flashlights will march a quarter mile to West Point’s Thayer Gate to show their opposition to what they consider the occupation of Afghanistan before they return to the park.
ROBERT L. HANAFIN
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
GS-14, U.S. Civil Service-Retired
VT News Network &
Our Troops News Ladder
Obama must sell war to anti-war base
In his speech to the nation on Tuesday, President Barack Obama must persuade supporters who thought they’d voted for an anti-war president to back a plan expected to roughly double the number of troops in Afghanistan from when he took office.
"We’re there to demonstrate to President Obama and the world that there’s a huge sense of disappointment at increasing these troop levels in Afghanistan, "said Nick Mottern, a member of the WESPAC Foundation, a social justice group in White Plains, New York.
"We believe people in that region [Middle East/SW Asia] need to be left alone to resolve their own problems, and come to their own political balance without the United States" interfering.
The following organizations are sponsoring Tuesday’s vigil: WESPAC, Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Orange County Democratic Alliance, Peace Action of New York State, World Can’t Wait, Peace and Social Progress Now, the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Troops Out Now, ANSWER and Military Families Speak Out.
Like the war in Iraq, greater American presence on the battlefields of Afghanistan will worsen homeland security.
As for dismantling terror networks along the Afghan-Pakistan border, Paul Pillar, a retired CIA analyst has noted the 9/11 attacks, which killed 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, were conceived and planned in Western cities. If they want to attack us, they can plan it anywhere.
The vigil is scheduled to go on rain or shine. Speakers will include Cheryl Wertz, executive director of Peace Action of New York State; Jose Vasquez, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Michael Sussman, an Orange County civil rights lawyer; regional activist Jack Smith; and Elaine Brower, of Military Families Speak Out.
Anyone interested in carpooling to the vigil from Westchester County is asked to call WESPAC at 914-449-6514.
Those interested in carpooling from Rockland County are asked to meet no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday in front of Panera Bread in Nanuet.
For more information, send an e-mail to [email protected].
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.
My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.
I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.
I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.