Friday, November 23, 2012

“15 years, 250 tours and 2,484 passengers – 
I hope I’ve passed the apprenticeship!”
     ("Lemon Juice" Bruce, Intrepid Vietnam tour group leader, October 2012)

To celebrate this milestone, the company organized a dinner at Quan Cuc Gach in Saigon's District 3 on Tuesday October 23.  This is an interesting local restaurant dined in by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  As you can see, we had a few other unexpected VIPs join us for our photo shoot - including Karl Marx, Lenin (not John, the other one!), living legend General Giap, no-longer-living legend Le Duan, and none other than the eternal Uncle Ho himself.  I felt very humble in such company!

Now, fully retired and pensioned off, or semi-retired? . . . 
I don't mean me; I am referring to my old green backpack, fondly known as the "Green Monster".  This has been my trusty travelling companion all these years in Viet Nam (and many more besides), but it has now been replaced by a brand new "Blue Draggin'" wheely case, compliments of the company.  I wonder if it will last as long?. . .

  * * *

250 trips and 2484 Intrepid travellers

intrepidexpress | real life experiences | Thursday, 22 November 2012 

Bruce McPhie in Vietnam In October, Bruce McPhie clocked up 15 years full-time tour leading with Intrepid, making him the longest-serving Intrepid Group Leader in the world! This means that since 1997, ‘Lemon Juice’ Bruce has led 250 Intrepid trips, and shared the wonders of Vietnam and Cambodia with some 2,484 travellers from all around the world. In his words “I hope I’ve passed the apprenticeship”…

“When I first joined Intrepid I had no idea how long this new adventure would last. Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly the years have passed, how many diverse and interesting people I have met along the way, and how many incredible experiences I have had. It still feels surreal just to be here, still living this amazing life, and I have no wish for it to ever end!

I have had the privilege and opportunity to travel through exotic cultures, tumultuous history and stunningly beautiful landscapes. Every day can still be a learning day, for me and my fellow travellers. There is still so much misinformation and ignorance about Vietnam and Cambodia crying out to be corrected. The whole world can benefit from learning these truths, and discovering the real magic of Indochina.

Many times I have been moved to tears when sharing both the joys and the pains of local people, who so easily become new friends. I have been able to sponsor children through school, relieve friends from crippling debt, assist local charities to help people in genuine need, and help local friends start up small businesses to improve their lives. One cannot be a passive bystander. Such is life in my adopted home of Vietnam.

My previous lives in Australia seem worlds away, as indeed they are. I have been lucky to have been able to follow a somewhat unconventional lifestyle. My first life was in Melbourne where, among other things, I was passionately involved in the peace movement against the war in Vietnam, including resistance to military conscription.

Deciding to ‘drop out’ of teacher training college to work full time for peace, Vietnam obviously made a life-changing impact on my youth. Today, opposing war remains critical for the survival of the planet and the dignity of humanity. This truth is driven home every day when you live and work in a land still suffering from the ongoing effects of past wars.

For my second life, I ‘went bush’ to the beautiful Cassilis Valley in far northeast Victoria for an alternative rural lifestyle experience, where more lifetime friends were made. Vietnam was and is my third life. My fourth life? I have no idea!

Throughout all my lives, I have had an eclectic range of jobs, coincidentally following Uncle Ho’s idea of combining and respecting both mental and physical labour. Sometimes I have worked to live, but mostly I have lived to work, and always I did the things I wanted to do and felt needed to be done.

Fortuitously, this continues in my current life as an Intrepid Group Leader, in a company committed to responsible travel and a better world. For me, there is no real line between work and personal life; it is my lifestyle, and what I do. What a special privilege!

Way back in 1996, I was a novice traveller on Intrepid’s Vietnam Adventure tour, which I thought was just part of my first Asian holiday experience before returning to Australia. However, miraculously, from the moment I arrived in Vietnam I felt completely at home, as if I had been here in some previous life! Less than one year later, I was back in Vietnam with a brand new job – this time working for Intrepid Travel as a Group Leader. Incredibly, Vietnam had dramatically changed my life for a second time!

Intrepid party for Bruce McPhie in Vietnam How much longer? Who knows the future? Hopefully there are many more tours ahead for me with Intrepid, and many more travellers to introduce to ‘my Vietnam’. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Or, as a frog might say, time’s fun when you’re having flies!”

* photos of Bruce on one of his 200+ visits to Halong Bay and a party with the Intrepid Vietnam team in Bruce’s honour.

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 * * *

From David Mannix, General Manager, PEAK Adventure Travel Vietnam, October 2012:

15 years and still going... the incredible adventures of Bruce McPhie

“15 years, 250 tours and 2,484 passengers – I hope I’ve passed the apprenticeship!” says Mr Bruce, and no one is surprised that he knows to a person exactly how many lucky travellers have joined him during his time as a tour leader in Vietnam. 

Bruce is the longest serving tour leader in the history of Intrepid and, to our knowledge, the longest serving leader in the PEAK world. An incredible achievement from one of the most inspiring people you could ever hope to meet.

Bruce’s Vietnam odyssey began way back in 1996. Venturing through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand on his very first holiday to Asia, Bruce then moved on to Vietnam, where he was booked as a passenger on an Intrepid trip. It was that first night in Hanoi that was to change his life forever. 

Wandering on his own through the maze of alleyways near the train station, Bruce immediately felt like he had been here before and that in some strange way, it felt like home. He was moved to the point of tears when the tour left Hanoi and felt this same overwhelming connection in every place he visited in Vietnam. It was an attachment that he had never felt anywhere else travelling the world.
Returning to Australia after the tour, he told his friends that he would be back in Vietnam within the year. The problem was, he had no idea how he was going to get back there! In his mid 40’s, with little money to spare, Bruce considered all his options on how he could return to the country he loved. 

Whilst studying an English teaching course, Bruce applied for a job as a tour leader with Intrepid, having thought as a passenger that his leader had the best job in the world! Believing he had little chance of securing the leading job, Bruce was pleasantly surprised to see that the interview was to be conducted by none other than Jacquie Burnside (who is still with PEAK), who was on Bruce’s Vietnam trip as a leader trainee. 

During the second round interview, Tom Beadle (also still with PEAK) asked Bruce how long he thought he might be a leader for. Bruce replied that he wasn’t sure, it could be 5 months or 5 years, which prompted Tom to tell him that he must be joking because no one ever lasts 5 years as a tour leader! 

True to his word, Bruce returned to Vietnam within the year as promised, making it back just 3 days before his deadline. 

His first training trip with Intrepid happened to coincide with a trip being run by the legendary Intrepid leader Bill Raymond and Bruce had the good fortune of being taken under the wing of Mr Bill on that trip and was shown the ins and outs of running tours in Vietnam – an experience Bruce will never forget. 

Thus began 15 years and counting of living and working in Vietnam. It is obvious to anyone who
has the good fortune to meet Bruce that his affection for this country is at a very deep level. Very few Westerners have the in-depth knowledge of Vietnam’s history, culture and people that Bruce does and his passion for sharing this knowledge with his passengers is what makes Bruce such an outstanding tour leader. 

Bruce remains one of PEAK Vietnam’s top performing leaders and his recent work as our Responsible Travel Co-Coordinator has breathed new life into this role, with a long list of accomplishments aimed at protecting and nurturing the country he calls home.

I was interested to know what it is that keeps Bruce going, what the key was to his success and how he keeps his enthusiasm after 15 years on the road. Bruce responded that he still finds every day challenging. Every trip and every group is different and he tries to put himself in their shoes by looking at each place as if he were experiencing it for the first time. 

For example, this man has been to Halong Bay over 200 times but he still gets a thrill in seeing people so overawed by its beauty. He never gets bored, still feels there is a lot to discover and to this day Bruce refused to go to sleep on a bus or train ride during the day for fear of missing something he hasn’t seen before. 

It’s that natural curiosity, combined with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, that keeps Bruce at the top of his game and just a cursory read of his passenger feedback leaves little doubt that he has changed the lives of many of his passengers too.  

Congratulations Bruce on this incredible milestone. You are an inspiration to myself, the leaders and all the staff of PEAK Vietnam and those that know you from our other offices. We have the utmost respect for your achievements, your incredible work ethic and most of all, your determination to live the life that you want to live. I still reckon you have at least another 15 years in you so we look forward to sharing this journey with you in the years to come.

15 years and still going... the incredible adventures of Bruce McPhie.

To celebrate this monumentous achievement, we took Bruce out to Cuc Gach restaurant in Saigon
with a number of staff, leaders and local guides and a great night was had by all as we reflected
on Bruce’s incredible career. 

Earlier, Bruce was taken out shopping to select a brand new suitcase to replace (in typical Bruce fashion!) an old green backpack that he had purchased back in 1982 and was still using on every trip. It was time to say goodbye to the ‘green monster’ and even though Bruce told us that parting with it felt like chopping off his arm, he does believe that this new suitcase with wheels is a very exciting thing that represents a new way of travel and will make him look less like a backpacker! 
And we can’t ask for anything more than that Bruce.  

From David Mannix, General Manager, PEAK Adventure Travel Vietnam, October 2012.
Intrepid Travel is a proud member of the PEAK Advenure Travel Group Limited, the global leader in delivering outstanding adventure travel experiences. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

“Becker  gives us the most sharply focused and penetrating analysis we have of the real dynamics at work in the continuing persecution of the Palestinian people. He calls for international unity among all people to end this tragic injustice. Hear his call and join in the struggle.” 
 Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general, former litigation attorney for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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Comprehensive Book on Palestine: 
Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire 
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Palestine book cover We encourage everyone to get a copy of this important book, Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire, by Richard Becker, West Coast Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

This book is a must read
. Over 233 pages, it breaks through the media's lies and distortions about the Palestinian people's decades-long struggle for their homeland.

This book from PSL Publications provides a sharp analysis of historic and current events in the struggle for Palestine—from the division of the Middle East by Western powers and the Zionist settler movement, to the founding of Israel and its regional role as a watchdog for U.S. interests, to present-day conflicts and the prospects for a just resolution.

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“Becker gives us the most sharply focused and penetrating analysis we have of the real dynamics at work in the continuing persecution of the Palestinian people. He calls for international unity among all people to end this tragic injustice. Hear his call and join in the struggle.” 
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general, former litigation attorney for the Palestine Liberation Organization

Click here to view the Table of Contents.

Click here to read an excerpt of the first section.
Click here to read about the author

Click here to read testimonials about the book from activists and scholars

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

By Chris Floyd

To all those now hailing the re-election of Barack Obama as a triumph of decent, humane, liberal values over the oozing-postule perfidy of the Republicans, a simple question:

Is this child dead enough for you?

This little boy was named Naeemullah. He was in his house -- maybe playing, maybe sleeping, maybe having a meal -- when an American drone missile was fired into the residential area where he lived and blew up the house next door.

As we all know, these drone missiles are, like the president who wields them, super-smart, a triumph of technology and technocratic expertise. 

We know, for the president and his aides have repeatedly told us, that these weapons -- launched only after careful consultation of the just-war strictures of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas -- strike nothing but their intended targets and kill no one but "bad guys." 

Indeed, the president's top aides have testified under oath that not a single innocent person has been among the thousands of Pakistani civilians -- that is, civilians of a sovereign nation that is not at war with the United States -- who have been killed by the drone missile campaign of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Yet somehow, by some miracle, the missile that roared into the residential area where Naeemullah lived did not confine itself neatly to the house it struck. Somehow, inexplicably, the hunk of metal and wire and computer processors failed -- in this one instance -- to look into the souls of all the people in the village and ascertain, by magic, which ones were "bad guys" and then kill only them. 

Somehow -- perhaps the missile had been infected with Romney cooties? -- this supercharged hunk of high explosives simply, well, exploded with tremendous destructive power when it struck the residential area, blowing the neighborhood to smithereens. 
As Wired reports, shrapnel and debris went flying through the walls of Naeemullah's house and ripped through his small body. When the attack was over -- when the buzzing drone sent with Augustinian wisdom by the Peace Laureate was no longer lurking over the village, shadowing the lives of every defenseless inhabitant with the terrorist threat of imminent death, Naeemullah was taken to the hospital in a nearby town. 
This is where the picture of above was taken by Noor Behram, a resident of North Waziristan who has been chronicling the effects of the Peace Laureate's drone war.  When the picture was taken, Naeemullah was dying. He died an hour later.
He died.
Is he dead enough for you? 
Dead enough not to disturb your victory dance in any way? 

Dead enough not to trouble the inauguration parties yet to come? Dead enough not to diminish, even a little bit, your exultant glee at the fact that this great man, a figure of integrity, decency, honor and compassion, will be able to continue his noble leadership of the best nation in the history of the world?
Do you have children? Do they sit your house playing happily? Do they sleep sweetly scrunched up in their warm beds at night? Do they chatter and prattle like funny little birds as you eat with them at the family table? Do you love them? Do you treasure them? Do you consider them fully-fledged human beings, beloved souls of infinite worth?
How would you feel if you saw them ripped to shreds by flying shrapnel, in your own house? How would you feel as you rushed them to the hospital, praying every step of the way that another missile won't hurl down on you from the sky? 

Your child was innocent, you had done nothing, were simply living your life in your own house -- and someone thousands of miles away, in a country you had never seen, had no dealings with, had never harmed in any way, pushed a button and sent chunks of burning metal into your child's body. 

How would you feel as you watched him die, watched all your hopes and dreams for him, all the hours and days and years you would have to love him, fade away into oblivion, lost forever?
What would you think about the one who did this to your child? Would you say: "What a noble man of integrity and decency! I'm sure he is acting for the best." 
Would you say: "Well, this is a bit unfortunate, but it's perfectly understandable. The Chinese government (or Iran or al Qaeda or North Korea or Russia, etc. etc.) believed there was someone next door to me who might possibly at some point in time pose some kind of threat in some unspecified way to their people or their political agenda -- or maybe it was just that my next-door neighbor behaved in a certain arbitrarily chosen way that indicated to people watching him on a computer screen thousands of miles away that he might possibly be the sort of person who might conceivably at some point in time pose some kind of unspecified threat to the Chinese (Iranians/Russians, etc.), even though they had no earthly idea who my neighbour is or what he does or believes or intends. I think the person in charge of such a program is a good, wise, decent man that any person would be proud to support. Why, I think I'll ask him to come speak at my little boy's funeral!"
Is that what you would say if shrapnel from a missile blew into your comfortable house and killed your own beloved little boy? You would not only accept, understand, forgive, shrug it off, move on -- you would actively support the person who did it, you would cheer his personal triumphs and sneer at all those who questioned his moral worthiness and good intentions? 

Is that really what you would do?
Well, that is what you are doing when you shrug off the murder of little Naeemullah. You are saying he is not worth as much as your child. You are saying he is not a fully-fledged human being, a beloved soul of infinite worth. You are saying that you support his death, you are happy about it, and you want to see many more like it. 

You are saying it doesn't matter if this child -- or a hundred like him, or a thousand like him, or, as in the Iraqi sanctions of the old liberal lion, Bill Clinton, five hundred thousand children like Naeemullah -- are killed in your name, by leaders you cheer and support. You are saying that the only thing that matters is that someone from your side is in charge of killing these children. 

This is the reality of "lesser evilism."
Before the election, we heard a lot of talk about this notion of the "lesser evil." From prominent dissidents and opponents of empire like Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky and Robert Parry to innumerable progressive blogs to personal conversations, one heard this basic argument: "Yes, the drone wars, the gutting of civil liberties, the White House death squads and all the rest are bad; but Romney would be worse. Therefore, with great reluctance, holding our noses and shaking our heads sadly, we must choose the lesser evil of Obama and vote accordingly."
I understand that argument, I really do. I don't agree with it, as I made plain here many times before the election. I think the argument is wrong, I think our system is so far gone that even a "lesser evil" is too evil to support in any way, that such support only perpetuates the system's unconscionable evils. 

But I'm not a purist, not a puritan, not a commissar or dogmatist. I understand that people of good will can come to a different conclusion, and feel that they must reluctantly choose one imperial-militarist-corporate faction over the other, in the belief that this will mean some slight mitigation of the potential evil that the other side commit if it took power.  

I used to think that way myself, years ago. Again, I now disagree with this, and I think that the good people who believe this have not, for whatever reason or reasons, looked with sufficient clarity at the reality of our situation, of what is actually being done, in their name, by the political faction they support. 
But of course, I am not the sole arbiter of reality, nor a judge of others; people see what they see, and they act (or refrain from acting) accordingly. I understand that. But here is what I don't understand: the sense of triumph and exultation and glee on the part of so many progressives and liberals and 'dissidents' at the victory of this "lesser evil." 

Where did the reluctance, the nose-holding, the sad head-shaking go? Should they not be mourning the fact that evil has triumphed in America, even if, by their lights, it is a "lesser" evil? 
If you really believed that Obama was a lesser evil -- 2 percent less evil, as I believe Digby once described the Democrats in 2008 -- if you really did find the drone wars and the White House death squads and Wall Street bailouts and absolution for torturers and all the rest to be shameful and criminal, how can you be happy that all of this will continue? Happy -- and continuing to scorn anyone who opposed the perpetuation of this system? 
The triumph of a lesser evil is still a victory for evil. 

If your neighborhood is tyrannized by warring mafia factions, you might prefer that the faction which occasionally doles out a few free hams wins out over their more skinflint rivals; but would you be joyful about the fact that your neighborhood is still being tyrannized by murderous criminals? 

Would you not be sad, cast down, discouraged and disheartened to see the violence and murder and corruption go on? Would you not mourn the fact that your children will have to grow up in the midst of all this?
So where is the mourning for the fact that we, as a nation, have come to this: a choice between murderers, a choice between plunderers?

 Even if you believe that you had to participate and make the horrific choice that was being offered to us -- "Do you want the Democrat to kill these children, or do you want the Republican to kill these children?" -- shouldn't this post-election period be a time of sorrow, not vaulting triumph and giddy glee and snarky put-downs of the "losers"? 
If you really are a "lesser evilist" -- if this was a genuine moral choice you reluctantly made, and not a rationalization for indulging in unexamined, primitive partisanship -- then you will know that we are ALL the losers of this election. 

Even if you believe it could have been worse, it is still very bad. You yourself proclaimed that Obama was evil -- just a bit "lesser" so  than his opponent. (2 percent maybe.) And so the evil that you yourself saw and named and denounced will go on. 

Again I ask: where is the joy and glory and triumph in this? Even if you believe it was unavoidable, why celebrate it? 

And ask yourself, bethink yourself: what are you celebrating? This dead child, and a hundred like him? A thousand like him? Five hundred thousand like him? 

How far will you go? What won't you celebrate?
And so step by step, holding the hand of the "lesser evil," we descend deeper and deeper into the pit.


This article was originally posted at Chris


CIA Demands Drones Despite 80% Civilian Death Rate  The news comes just a day after the Pakistani Interior Minister quoted statistics suggesting 80 per cent of people killed in US drone attacks have been civilians.  (From RT)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The US Presidential "Debate" Snubs The Troops

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by Michael Prysner
The author is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward!
March Forward! is an affiliate of the ANSWER Coalition. 

The candidates only seemed to debate over who agreed with each other more.
There was an elephant in the room during the presidential foreign policy debate. That elephant was a pile of bodies, blood and limbs, which grew as the candidates spoke.

The war in Afghanistan is in its 11th year—the longest war in U.S. history. It is not a war that is going smoothly. Over 2,000 U.S. troops have been buried—the vast majority under Obama’s presidency. The war’s “signature wound” is the loss of two legs and an arm. Some brigades in Afghanistan (about 4,000 soldiers) are averaging one amputation per day. “Collateral damage” takes the lives of Afghan children regularly.

In the months leading up to the debates, the U.S. strategy was exposed as a total failure. The dual objectives of the now-ended “surge”—battering the Afghan resistance and training Afghan puppet forces—completely blew up in the faces of the Pentagon generals.

The blood is flowing, and heavily. The politicians and generals do not know what to do. Service members and their families are tired of the endless tours. People are tired of $400 million a day being spent on it. Over 60 percent of Americans want the war to end immediately.

One would think that an 11-year, bloody and wildly unpopular military quagmire—in which tax-payers send billions of dollars a week and get in return only their loved ones in coffins and wheelchairs—would be a topic of discussion (and maybe even debate) at the foreign policy debate between the leading candidates for next commander in chief of the military.

Don’t those who have been losing limbs and loved ones for over a decade deserve at least that?

Only one question on Afghanistan

While the war doesn't deserve two minutes in a 90-minute debate, service members are dying and losing limbs on a daily basis.
There was one question about the Afghanistan war. Mitt Romney spent about 30 seconds responding to it, before switching to talk about bombing Pakistan. President Barack Obama spent about 75 seconds responding to it before switching to talking about veterans’ employment. Both candidates agreed with each other on the war, and reassured each other that everything was going great.

And that was it. End of discussion. No disagreement or debate. No challenge from the moderator about all the mainstream media stories contradicting everything the candidates said about “progress.” Just a total of 105 seconds to repeat the Pentagon’s talking points: “Things are going great. Don’t worry about it. We’ll somehow leave in 2014 (we promise!).”

U.S. service members and their families got less than two minutes of the same scripted lies about the most major issue in their lives. That is all the candidates felt they deserved. The rest of the 88 minutes they heard about the next war (based on the same lies) that they will be sent to.

What they said

Romney only had three things to say about Afghanistan. He said we can have all troops out by the end of 2014 because:

    1. There has been “progress” over the past several years;
    2. The “surge was successful;”
    3. Training of Afghan forces is “proceeding on pace.”

All of those assertions are lies, even by the Pentagon’s own admission. But no need to address or debate those facts. Just 30 seconds of rattling off baseless statements is enough attention to the war.

Obama generously used his 75 seconds to remind us why we were in Afghanistan—retribution for the 9/11 attacks.

The Afghan people have endured immeasurable suffering as a result of the war, and overwhelmingly want all foreign troops out now.
Except, the White House admits we are not actually fighting al-Qaeda or even al-Qaeda’s allies in Afghanistan. The people we are actually at war against are people who played no role in the attacks and admittedly pose no threat to the United States. The Afghan people are not our enemies. Most of them—92 percent—have never even heard of the 9/11 attacks. The reason armed groups of Afghans all over the country are fighting the occupying forces is because they, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.

Obama made reference to “withdrawing responsibly,” which in reality translates to “retreat while giving the illusion of victory.”

If U.S. forces are indeed withdrawn by the end of 2014, it will not be because the Pentagon accomplished its objectives. They admit that their original objectives of having permanent U.S. military bases, and a national client government puppeteered by Washington, are impossible. So the current “withdrawal” is really a retreat, only in slow motion, so the inevitable will be postponed for several years, while soldiers and Afghans die so these politicians can save face.

What they should have said

Voters in the 2012 election, the majority of whom want an immediate end to the war, cannot vote to change U.S. policy in Afghanistan (or anywhere for that matter). Both Obama and Romney assured the world that their strategies were identical—so much so that it was not even worth talking about.

But is the Obama-Romney Afghanistan strategy the only viable option? Far from it. In fact, the option supported by most people in the U.S. (including service members) is an immediate, rapid withdrawal of all U.S. forces from the country. The outcome of the war if there is an immediate withdrawal is the same as a slow withdrawal through 2014—the only difference being the number of lives and limbs senselessly lost along the way: only a few dozen more with an immediate withdrawal, or a few thousand more with a pointlessly drawn-out withdrawal.

Why they didn’t talk about it

Obama and Romney did not give any meaningful time to the issue that most affects service members and their families, because the debate was not for them. The debate was not even really for the U.S. people. Are the masses of unemployed, those facing foreclosure, those in student debt, those seeing their social services slashed—are they really clamoring for more drones and battleships? Are they really interested in a competition between who will starve Iranian children the most severely, or who will give Israel the most free reign to carry out war crimes? The candidates' only real argument was over who wanted to spend more on the military—with Obama bragging about the military budget going up every year he’s been in office—as if more military spending is a top concern of the people!

The presidential debate, in reality, was not for us. It was for the military-industrial complex, energy companies and investors. The candidates were competing for the support of those with billions of dollars to hand over to their campaigns. The candidates discussed the issues most important to the corporate and banking interests in militarism and war. That is who they were appealing to.

Neither Obama nor Romney felt they needed to give more than two minutes to the Afghanistan war, because they believe the current level of bloodshed—hundreds of U.S. and Afghan casualties per month—is not so high as to endanger their campaigns. Even though public sentiment is against the war, there is no mass movement against the war. Therefore, the politicians can keep sending us to die without much political backlash, while our lives are not even worth more than a mere mention in the one debate that was supposed to address this issue.

The people, not politicians, will end the war

This is one of the ultimate consequences of “lesser-evilism.” Those in the anti-war movement who have backed Obama because he is considered less of a warmonger (a myth completely dispelled by this debate) are in effect demobilizing the one sector that has the ability to influence the policy on the war.

By choosing to keep silent and off the streets to ensure that the “more evil” Republican Party does not win, they allow the Democratic Party to pursue the same policy without even having to even give lip service to the needs and will of the people.

The debates showed us that if we want any change whatsoever in U.S. foreign policy—a policy of endless, constant warfare in the interests of the super-rich—it will have to come from below; not from privileged politicians pandering to war-profiteers, who consider our lives worthless cannon fodder.

Click here to learn about the effort to help U.S. service members resist the Afghanistan war.

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