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Rev. Jesse Jackson and Guests Discuss Iraq and Afghanistan Wars on "Upfront"

February 28, 2009

President Barack Obama presented a plan last week that will withdraw most of the 142,000 troops now in Iraq by the summer of next year, leaving 35,000 to 50,000 to train and advise Iraqi security forces and protect American civilian and military personnel.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and a panel of guests discussed issues surrounding the Iraq war and the plans for escalation in Afghanistan on Saturday’s edition of “Up Front with Jesse Jackson” on the WORD Network.

“The War in Iraq has been going on longer than World War II,” said Rev. Jackson. “Over 1.2 million Iraqis have died; 1.1 million civilians have been injured and approximately 5 million children orphaned; over 4,000 U.S. military personnel killed; and we spend over $270 million a day on Iraq.”

Joining him on the program were Rick Perlstein, presidential historian and Newsweek contributor; Eric Lobo, of Veterans for Peace; Imam Malik Mujahid, author and radio talk show host; and Jonathan Jackson, national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that President Obama should apologize for the Iraq War to maintain international political capital, and to take advantage of the second chance many countries are willing to give the U.S. since his historic election.

“It would be an extraordinary act of leadership to see President Obama apologize,” said Perlstein. However Americans are a nation of cowboys. Many Americans would go crazy.”

Jonathan Jackson added, “I think we still have some work to do. We have to restore our credibility and standing.”

President Obama ordered 17,000 troops to deploy to Afghanistan on Feb. 17, marking a significant escalation of the war.

“A war in Afghanistan is not winnable,” said Mujahid. “We cannot just win this by bombing people or through military means. This country has been fighting for the last 3o years. The average life expectancy is 44 years. If you were born 3o years ago you have seen nothing but war so you know how to fight.”

The panel also addressed the fact that thousands of Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan with honor are returning home to find a lack of care for physical and psychological needs. Many, who can’t find jobs and must depend on the generosity of family and friends, are facing foreclosure and homelessness .

“Everyone who participates in combat loses,” said Lobo. “Many people don’t see veterans when they come home. They are returning to homelessness.”

Upfront airs at 9 p.m. CST on the Word Network.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366