Thursday, April 23, 2009
"the Americans have the wristwatches, but we have the time"
by Lisa Savage
Started off the day with pinksters Gael, Liz, Medea, Maggie, Lori & Sarah at the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing "Soldiers' stories from the Afghan War," chaired by John Kerry. One great witness called was a retired Army colonel from B.U., Andrew Bacevich, who studies "war and conflict" (thank you for not pretending they mean the same thing, professor). He said without doubt there is NO MILITARY SOLUTION IN AFGHANISTAN, in fact our military presence makes the situation worse, that we are viewed as occupiers. He kept saying "the long war" meaning both Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and... is parallel in key ways to Vietnam: no clear goal, no exit strategy, and unaffordable both in $$ and public opinion. Yes!!! Exactly!!! So good to hear someone credible say it loud in public.
Also heard from retired Marine Rick Reyes about being getting tips and beating up random civilians who were only guilty of bringing milk home, but had been informed upon for $$. This is not what young men think they are going to be heroically doing in foreign misadventures, apparently. He strongly felt that more of the same would be extremely counterproductive to U.S. goals in Afghanistan. Another soldier who told about his buddy dying said the buddy's last words were: "I'm sorry I let you down." Pardon the obvious but I felt so much like we;re the ones letting these young kids down by letting them get sucked into fighting for corporate profits. Sen. Corker questioned one of the soldiers about his estimation that U.S. goals were or weren't being well served, saying he himself was unable to a see a goal that the U.S. was reasonably pursuing in Afghanistan. Quelling al-Quaeda? "Al-Quadea is in many countries." A really top notch international police force was the solution that set the most heads nodding in the room.
While listening to all this we held our signs high and got away with it. Kerry is famous for having said as a young vet of Vietnam that it's hard to ask a soldier to be the last one to die for a mistake, so one sign we held was: LAST ONE TO DIE FOR THIS MISTAKE? Medea talked to the press after and I hope we got some coverage of the pink presence. After the hearing officially ended we held up signs including a neon pink sign with a drone and 687 PAKISTANIS DEAD, ?? MILITANTS MADE on it, because the cameras were still rolling as the participants were interviewed.
Tried to get into the panel where our Italian friends were testifying about U.S. military base expansion in their country, but it was over. The other girls who had tried to attend had been kept from entering the building. Obama was in the house (actually, Senate) this morning, and we stood on the sidewalk and waved at his motorcade leaving. Walked home to Pink house for an extra quick lunch, back in Gail's car to the House committee hearing where Atty. General Holder was testifying. He is the person who could prosecute war criminals, and we all know who they are -- not hard to find I had to leave early on for my appointment with legislative aides to Olympia Snowe. Lobbied them against surging in Afghanistan, a "no" vote on supplemental war funding, or at least an amendment shifting $$ into aid and diplomacy and away from military. Gave the jobs report from UMass Amherst proving peaceful production also creates more jobs and better quality jobs than building weapons. Needs to happen!!
Walked home in the gorgeous sunny spring weather with fluffy clouds in the sky and raging tulips in the gardens. Tonight should be quieter than last night, which was a big pot luck dinner for the activist community. A great and very interesting meeting after the meal about world opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict since Gaza, and some actions related to that. I am learning so much -- this is like taking a really great seminar in organizing and political effectiveness. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my learning here, both this week and prior to my visit!! Too many to mention, and that is exciting in itself. Thanks, too, for all the love and support from my family and friends. And xoxoxo to you know who. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here. Tomorrow is my last day. Gen. Petraeus is appearing before Congress --I think I'll go to that.