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Talk Nation Radio: Robert Fantina on War and the Bravery of Deserters

Robert Fantina discusses the courage of those who desert the military, including some 20,000 in the United States during the "global war on terra."  Fantina is the author of
Desertion and the American Soldier,
Look Not Unto the Morrow, and
Empire, Racism, and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.
He discusses all of these books on the program.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Individual Honor versus Unpleasant History The Battle Still Rages Over What Vietnam Means

 

By John Grant


"The experience we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is thus a lie -- the truth lies rather outside, in what we do."

                -- Slavoj Zizek

No More Truthless Heroes

By Joshua Brollier

On February 11, 2013, the New York Times reported about the funeral of retired Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, portraying him as a “warrior and family man.”  The highly politicized and massive public funeral, held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, points to the severe moral schizophrenia our nation has internalized. We see ourselves as the shining “city on a hill” and therefore a U.S. citizen who kills people in other lands becomes an unquestionably renowned hero.  This must appear offensive and ridiculous to many people living beyond U.S. borders.

Veterans For Peace: Debt Ceiling Is No Excuse

 

Veterans for Peace has released the following statement:

U.S. interest payments on debt are at an historic low, not an historic high.  The shortage of funds in the federal government is due to an unemployment crisis, outrageously inflated military spending, and a steadfast bipartisan refusal to impose reasonable tax rates on billionaires, multi-millionaires, or some of the world's most profitable corporations -- which in some cases are paying negative tax rates.

We are spending about $525 billion per year preparing for war, including $170 billion to keep U.S. troops in 177 nations, where more often than not hostility and resentment are generated, arms build-ups are provoked, and the risk of violence is increased rather than diminished.

While we sympathize with those shouting "No cuts!" we propose that some redirection of funding is in order.  We oppose cuts to retirement and healthcare funds but support expanding them by cutting and redirecting misspent resources.  Updating the critique offered by Dr. King, we see drones carrying guided missiles deployed by misguided human beings.

To be clear, while we prioritize healthcare, we favor a single-payer system under which our nation might pay approximately half what it pays now, while providing universal coverage and a boost to the economy.

Beyond the $525 billion spent each year on war preparation is $89 billion spent on actual current wars, including a war in Afghanistan that we describe as "ending" over a period of two years, a period longer than most wars have lasted from beginning to end.  This war is 11 years old, and we're headed toward 13.  There we see spending that should be cut.

There's also $53 billion on spying and spy agencies that kill people with drones, $19 billion on muclear weapons, and $7 billion on arming other nations.  Costs like these bring the total spent on war making to over half of discretionary spending each year. In fact, the United States spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined.  Together with its NATO allies it accounts for three-quarters of global military spending. 

Our public debate has recently focused on defending this spending as a jobs program, despite the fact that military spending produces fewer jobs for the same dollars than education spending, infrastructure spending, green energy spending, or even tax cuts for working people  -- not to mention the sociopathic nature of funding a program of killing in order to generate jobs.

Then there's the State Department with its mercenaries and the work it does to market U.S. weapons sales to foreign governments (now amounting to 85% of international weapons sales).  Then there's the drug war, the record deportations, the infiltration of nonviolent organizations including chapters of Veterans For Peace, the militarization of local police with federal dollars, the $7 billion for prisons, the $42 billion for highways rather than greener transportation, and on and on.

Cuts don't kill.  Congress members who cut the wrong things and fund the wrong things kill. 

Our government is not broke.  It is broken.

I Will Not Fight For Queen and Country

By Veterans For Peace - UK

On 7th February 2013 The Oxford Union held the debate “This House Would Not Fight for Queen and Country."  It was the 80th anniversary of the original debate in 1933 in which The Oxford Union voted in favor of the motion.

Speaking for the motion were Ben Sullivan (Christ Church College), Ben Griffin (Former SAS soldier) and Gareth Porter ( US Historian).

Speaking against were Rory Stewart (Conservative MP), Nikolai Tolstoy (International Monarchist League) and Malcolm Rifkind (Former Foreign Secretary).

On the night the motion was defeated as it has been on every occasion that it has been held since 1937.

Below a transcript of the speech given by Ben Griffin of Veterans for Peace.

I Will Not Fight for Queen and Country

Fight for Queen and Country, what does that mean? It is a jingoistic phrase dream’t up by some propaganda merchant intent on stoking the fire of that false religion patriotism.

The idea of fighting for Queen and Country is held tight by those who never have and never will actually fight.

It is held by those who long to bask in the reflected glory of war.

It is held by those who have no experience of the suffering that war inflicts.

It is an idea held up by those who gain the most from war, Politicians, Generals, The Arms Industry and The Media.

It is a phrase that is dredged up again and again to stifle dissent and build unquestioning support for the aggression we choose to unleash.

Look Not Unto the Morrow

Robert Fantina, the author of a tragically nonfictional survey of the lives of soldiers in all past U.S. wars, has now published a devastatingly fictional account of the war that the Vietnamese call the American War.

I say devastatingly fictional, because Fantina condenses and concentrates into one small book and the lives of a very few characters the lead-up to, the experience of, and the aftermath of a U.S. soldier's participation in that war.  The extreme horror and tragedy recounted (leavened by much human goodness) would require the watering down of thousands of additional pages of extraneous information were it nonfiction, and yet it is all based in typical experiences endured, overcome, or surrendered to by many thousands of Americans.

The plot is not predictable, the lessons not pedantic, but the story of Look Not Unto the Morrow is a story that grabs you more firmly by the throat because of the knowledge of how many people have lived it.

Here we meet a young man who only figures out what war is once he's in it, and a young woman who loves him and who only begins to give a damn about the world and the people in it when her lover goes to war.  I find myself, as I read this, desperately hoping that someone young will read it too and get themselves together faster, before it's too late. 

Then I realize that when I grew up believing war was a sick barbaric atavism, I was growing up after the peace movement of the 1960s had happened.  Perhaps people had learned.  Perhaps that learning had reached me.  I also had the option of going to college.  I also was not drafted.  The accounts of veterans at the Winter Soldier event during the war on Iraq, just like those during the war on Vietnam, are tales of disillusionment.  These are young men, and now women too, who believed the hype, believed some good purpose could be served by mass murder, headed off to participate, and then began to have grave doubts.

The accounts of some veterans are, in fact, very mixed and complicated.  Some believe a soldier should tell the truth about a horrible genocidal crime and also continue to take part in it if so ordered.  Some believe our current wars should be denounced and actively resisted, but that a good war might start next month or next year. 

A young man recently published a column in the Washington Post headlined "I killed people in Afghanistan. Was I right or wrong?"  I interviewed him and will air the interview on my radio show.  He told me that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, supported the ongoing occupation once begun, and supported the war on Afghanistan.  I asked what he would do if another invasion were launched that he was opposed to.  He replied that he would go and fight in it.  He would go and kill people in it. 

Beneath all the differences between our era and the 1960s/1970s that come through in Fantina's novel, there is much that is the same.  Combining Fantina's novel with Nick Turse's new nonfictional account of the extended atrocity and marathon "war crime" that was the assault on Vietnam (all war is a crime, not certain bits of it) should give one a serious understanding of what was, is, and must not continue to be the fundamental error of our ways. 

I've read more autobiographical accounts of our current wars than fiction, so please send me your recommendations for the latter, as well as for accounts from Vietnamese and Iraqi and Afghan (etc.) points of view.  Autobiographies have their own advantages.  I used to wish Ralph Waldo Emerson's prediction might come true and novels might be displaced by memoirs. 

I say I used to wish that, because a good writer can invent truths, can show us what's happening inside the heads of multiple characters, can personalize public affairs with the power of mythology.  To see what I'm talking about, read Look Not Unto the Morrow.

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Notes on Jonathan Schell’s Review of 'Kill Anything That Moves'

 

By Michael Uhl


Jonathan Schell‘s probing review of Nick Turse’s new book Kill Anything That Moves originated on Tom Dispatch and migrated to Salon, where it appeared under the head “Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought.”

Veterans For Peace Asks Peabody To Stop War on Mother Earth

At 11 am, Friday, Jan. 25, members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, and other organizations will gather in Kiener Plaza, across from the headquarters of Peabody Energy Corp. to demand that the company:

  1. Stop all forms of strip mining, including mountaintop removal, a practice it claims to have ended, but which continues with spinoff coal companies like Patriot.

  2. Stop polluting the watershed and air and stop coal extraction in favor of renewable energy sources.  

  3. Return millions in tax breaks to the city of St. Louis. In 2010, Peabody Coal, the largest coal-mining company in the world, received a $61 million tax break from the St. Louis Development Corporation, including $2 million from the St. Louis public schools.  

Veterans for Peace joins with MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment), RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival) and Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) in making these demands.

They are presenting these demands because of concerns such as:

  • Peabody Western Coal Co., a subsidiary of Peabody Energy Corp., has strip-mined Black Mesa, which overlaps Navajo and Hopi lands in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, since 1968. Each year more than one billion gallons of groundwater is removed from the Black Mesa aquifer to make the toxic coal slurry needed to move the coal through a long-distance pipeline.
  • Every day in West Virginia 3 million pounds of high explosives are detonated to remove mountaintops that cover coal seams. Over the course of a year that adds up to 27 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mountains, valleys, streams and the lives of people and wildlife are forever changed and in many cases, destroyed. Peabody, which claims to have stopped MTR, has non-the-less done incalculable damage, while other coal companies like Arch Coal and Patriot Coal (a spin off of Peabody) both  headquartered in St. Louis, still use the process.
  • According to a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility and backed by other groups, pollution from burning coal kills tens of thousands of people each year due to asthma, chronic pulmonary obstruction, emphysema, heart attack, stroke and cancer. http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
  • The National Academy of Sciences concluded that coal-fired plants and overall damages from coal cost U. S. taxpayers  an estimated $62 billion in environmental and health outlays in 2005  http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Hidden-Costs-Energy-Unpriced-Consequences/12794?bname=best


VFP national board member Tarak Kauff explained, “There's a battle going on between huge fossil fuel corporations like Peabody Energy Corp. and a growing public interest grassroots movement. In the end this conflict may matter more than those in Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan because the outcome may determine whether life as we know it will continue on this planet. Members of VFP, many who have experienced directly the horrors of war, realize that the war on Mother Earth is potentially the most dangerous war of all. We are more than veterans of war, we are veterans for peace. Real peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace means justice, in this case environmental justice. Raping, polluting and destroying the environment is not justice.”
 
Paul Appell, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, farmer and VFP member, added, "After working the land full time for nearly half a century, I know that one reaps what one sows. In Vietnam I learned that when one sows violence, one reaps blood. As one who has daily witnessed strip-mining here in Knox County, Illinois, for 50-plus years and farmed strip-mined ground for 35, I have experienced the war on Mother Nature. As I stand in solidarity with my fellow citizens protesting Peabody Energy Corporation’s coal removal methods, it is with intimate, firsthand knowledge that violence begets more violence."

Kids Killing Kids - Right Here in Maine

Kids Shooting Kids
 
 
There is a big dust up going on here in Maine over the discovery of a two-year spree of violent video making where local youth used public spaces to produce their "films".

A local Brunswick high school senior, who has been accepted next year at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, is the leader of the pack of about 20 kids involved in producing the videos.  Local newspapers report that the kids have made 26 videos, viewed 8.3 million times on YouTube, and have used the public library and the former US Navy airfield in Brunswick (now called Brunswick Landing) as back drops for the videos.

Veterans For Peace Demand: Keep U.S. Troops Out of Africa

http://veteransforpeace.org

Newly publicized U.S. plans to send troops into 35 African nationsshould result in red flags being raised from the U.S. public, the Congress, and active-duty members of the U.S. military.  Though these plans call for small, short-term deployments to serve in an advisory and training capacity, Veterans For Peace is concerned that the creation of AFRICOM in general, and these deployments in particular, represent the proverbial nose of the camel under the tent.

So Go Ahead and Nominate Him Already!

Obama Needs Hagel in the Pentagon

By Ray McGovern

1:47 p.m. EST, January 2, 2013

Absent from the discussion about whether former Senator Chuck Hagel would make a good secretary of defense is any focus on lessons learned from personal factors like combat in war, as well as loyalty to the president.

As I was grousing about this, my eye caught a name on a rubbing I made from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall: "Edward S. Krukowski." Many years ago, Ed and I studied Russian and were in the ROTC together.

Veterans For Peace Opposes Military Intervention in Syria

Veterans For Peace urgently calls on the United States and NATO to cease all military activity in Syria, halt all U.S. and NATO shipments of weapons, and abandon all threats to further escalate the violence under which the people of Syria are suffering.

NATO troops and missiles should be withdrawn from Turkey and other surrounding nations.  U.S. ships should exit the Mediterranean.

Veterans For Peace is an organization of veterans who draw upon their military experiences in working for the abolition of war.  We have not entered into this work without consideration of many situations similar to the current one in Syria. 

Peace negotiations, while very difficult, will be easier now, and will do more good now, than after greater violence.  Those negotiations must come, and delaying them will cost many men, women, and children their lives.

No good can come from U.S. military intervention in Syria.  The people of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and dozens of other nations in Latin America and around the world have not been made better off by U.S. military intervention.

While experts have great doubt that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons, while accounts of past use are dishonest, and while claims that such use is imminent are unsubstantiated and highly suspicious, the most likely way to provoke such use is the threat of an escalated foreign intervention.  Required now by practicality, morality, and the law is de-escalation.

The possession or use of one kind of weapon cannot justify the use of another.  Were the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians, the United States would not be justified in using other kinds of weapons against Syrians.  The United States possesses chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons, and possesses and uses cluster bombs, white phosphorus, depleted uranium weapons, mines, and weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles  -- none of which justifies military attacks on the U.S. government.

The United States' own military actions kill far more civilians than combatants.  The United States facilitates and tolerates governments' abuses of their own people in nations around the world and around Western Asia, notably in Bahrain -- not to mention in Syria, to which the United States has in recent years sent victims to have them tortured.  The world does not believe U.S. motivations for intervention in Syria are humanitarian.  The motivation has been too openly advertised as the overthrow of a government too friendly with the government of Iran and insufficiently subservient to NATO.  Syria has been on a Pentagon list for regime change since at least 2001.

The threat of war, like the use of war, is a violation of the U.N. Charter, to which both the United States and Syria are parties.  War without Congressional declaration is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Another U.S. war will not only breed hostility.  It will directly arm and supply those already hostile to the U.S. government

How many times must we watch the same mistakes repeated? 

The options are not limited to doing nothing or escalating warfare.  Nonviolent resistance to tyranny has proven far more likely to succeed, and the successes far longer lasting.  Nations and individuals outside of Syria should do what they can to facilitate the nonviolent pursuit of justice.

But Syria's struggles should be controlled by the Syrian people without military intervention.  The first step is a cease-fire and de-escalation.  The U.S. military and NATO can assist only by departing.

Veterans For Peace Strongly Condemns the New Round of Sanctions Against the People of Iran

On Friday November 30th, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a new round of sanctions against Iran as an amendment to the so-called Defense Authorization Act. This amendment, sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), broadens the scope of current sanctions on Iran to include Iran’s shipping industry and ports. According to Menendez, “By passing these additional measures ending sales to and transactions with Iranian sectors that support proliferation — energy, shipping, ship-building and port sectors as well as with anyone on our specially designed national list — we will send a message to Iran that they can’t just try to wait us out.”

This criminal act of collective punishment of the people of Iran is being taken at a time when the existing economic sanctions have already caused a tremendous amount of suffering for the Iranian people without having any impact on nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East.

Veterans For Peace Appeals to Israeli Soldiers to Lay Down Their Arms

Israel's military has in recent days attacked the Gaza strip with drones and F-16s, and has apparently been preparing for a possible ground war. Israel is using weaponry provided by the United States at the expense to U.S. taxpayers of $3 billion per year. Veterans For Peace member Doug Rawlings addresses the following statement to members of the Israeli military:

"I have been to where you are going. From my heart, I beseech you not to join me. In 1969, I was sent to Vietnam as a reluctant soldier, a draftee, who did not have the courage of my convictions. I chose to follow the orders of my government rather than to follow the dictates of my conscience. It’s been over forty years now, and I still remember the faces of the Vietnamese people who were victimized by my lack of moral autonomy. I became one of Pharaoh’s army, and, to this day, I have been wading through the miasma of that murderous indecisiveness. Had I heeded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. instead of General William Westmoreland, I would have refused to serve as a pawn in my government’s immoral invasion and occupation of Vietnam.

"Westmoreland was one of many who appealed to some kind of base sense of national self-righteousness that relegated a whole people – the “enemy”-- to a form of sub-human existence. He, too, heard from chauvinist generals like yours who demanded that we '…bomb the Vietnamese people back to the Stone Age.' Dr. King, on the other hand, was imploring us to not exploit others, to recognize the sacredness of all people, and to not 'trample over others with the iron feet of oppression.' He recognized that '…peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.'

"You, my friends, have become the means of your government, and it is up to you to say that you would rather be warriors for peace than serve in Pharaoh’s legions. Follow the lead of the Dr. Kings of the world, not the generals who are willing to use the blood of others to seek some kind of political goals. Rejoin the 'beloved community' of world citizens who recognize the sanctity of all human life. Reject the immoral orders of those who would send you to do their bloody bidding. Refuse orders to attack Gaza. The world is waiting for the first army of peace-makers to turn back the tide of war. Why not start with you?"

Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

Armistice Day in the M.I.C.

Remarks at the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center on November 10, 2012.

Thank you to Sergio for inviting me and helping set up this little trip I'm on. 

Before I forget, tomorrow is Armistice Day, so we'll be celebrating by dying in front of Senator Feinstein's house at 10 a.m. at Vallejo & Lyon Streets before walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Please come.  And at 1:30 Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan and I will be speaking on the question of whether U.S. wars are legal at the main public library in San Francisco.  We can talk about that question today, if you want, but I won't make it the main focus of my opening remarks.

Ninety-four years ago tomorrow on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, fighting ceased in the "war to end all wars." Thirty million soldiers had been killed or wounded and another seven million had been taken captive during World War I.  Never before had people witnessed such industrialized slaughter, with tens of thousands falling in a day to machine guns and poison gas.  After the war, more and more truth began to overtake the lies, but whether people still believed or now resented the pro-war propaganda, virtually every person in the United States wanted to see no more of war ever again.  Posters of Jesus shooting at Germans were left behind as the churches along with everyone else now said that war was wrong.  Al Jolson wrote in 1920 to President Harding:

"The weary world is waiting for

Peace forevermore

So take away the gun

From every mother's son

And put an end to war."

Congress passed an Armistice Day resolution calling for "exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding … inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples." Later, Congress added that November 11th was to be "a day dedicated to the cause of world peace."

While the ending of warfare was celebrated every November 11th, veterans were treated no better than they are today.  When 17,000 veterans plus their families and friends marched on Washington in 1932 to demand their bonuses, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and other heroes of the next big war to come attacked the veterans, including by engaging in that greatest of evils with which Saddam Hussein would be endlessly charged: "using chemical weapons on their own people."  The weapons they used, just like Hussein's, originated in the U.S. of A.

It was only after another war, an even worse war, a war that has in many ways never ended to this day, that Congress, following still another now forgotten war -- this one on Korea -- changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954.  And it was six-and-a-half years later that Eisenhower warned us that the military industrial complex would completely corrupt our society.  Veterans Day is no longer, for most people, a day to cheer the elimination of war or even to aspire to its abolition.  Veterans Day is not even a day on which to mourn or to question why suicide is the top killer of U.S. troops or why so many veterans have no houses at all in a nation in which one high-tech robber baron monopolist is hoarding $66 billion, and 400 of his closest friends have more money than half the country.  It's not even a day to honestly, if sadistically, celebrate the fact that virtually all the victims of U.S. wars are non-Americans, that our so-called wars have become one-sided slaughters.  Instead, it is a day on which to believe that war is beautiful and good.  Towns and cities and corporations and sports leagues call it "military appreciation day" or "troop appreciation week" or "genocide glorification month."  OK, I made up that last one.  Just checking if you're paying attention.

This year, Veterans For Peace is celebrating Armistice Day in over 50 cities, including by ringing bells at 11 a.m. tomorrow.  Up in Auburn, Washington, however, Veterans For Peace Chapter 92 was been banned from marching in the Veterans Day Parade today.  Auburn said that other applicants more closely met the parade's goals and purpose.  Among the applicants accepted were a motorcycle club, a Corvette club, the Optimists and Kiwanis International, the Sons of Italy, and a Daffodil Festival float.  Veterans For Peace was too off-topic.  But VFP and the ACLU sued and won, so Vets For Peace 92 is marching.

Veterans For Peace president Leah Bolger had remarked: "Look at the choice that Auburn is setting up for people who have seen war for themselves.  Either play along with the deadly lie that war is good and glorious, or be banished from the community and excluded from public events. Imagine the position that puts people in who know that, as Ben Franklin said, there has never been a good war or a bad peace. We should honor their courage in saying so, not deny them First Amendment rights that our highest courts now tell us even corporations can claim!"

On the original Armistice Day in 1918, much of the world ended a four-year war that served no useful purpose whatsoever while costing the lives of some 10 million soldiers, 6 million civilians, 21 million soldiers wounded, an outbreak of Spanish influenza that took another 100 million lives, environmental destruction that is ongoing today, the development of new weapons—including chemical weapons—still used today, huge leaps forward in the art of propaganda still plagiarized today, huge setbacks in the struggle for economic justice, and a culture more militarized, more focused on stupid ideas like banning alcohol, and more ready to restrict civil liberties in the name of nationalism, and all for the bargain price, as one author calculated it at the time, of enough money to have given a $2,500 home with $1,000 worth of furniture and five acres of land to every family in Russia, most of the European nations, Canada, the United States, and Australia, plus enough to give every city of over 20,000 a $2 million library, a $3 million hospital, a $20 million college, and still enough left over to buy every piece of property in Germany and Belgium.  And it was all legal.  Incredibly stupid, but totally legal.  Particular atrocities violated laws, but war was not criminal.  It never had been, but it soon would be.

One of the soldiers who died in World War I was a young British man named Wilfred Owen.  Ninety-four years ago last Sunday he was shot and killed.  The news of his death reached his parents home in England as the Armistice bells were ringing 94 years ago tomorrow.  When the war had begun, many fools were fond of quoting an old Latin saying: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, meaning, "it is sweet and right to die for your country."  During the war, Owen wrote a poem about how sweet and right it was to suffer from poison gas for no apparent purpose.  I'm sure you've heard it, but I think it could be well directed to most U.S. corporate media outlets in business today, so if you don't mind, it went like this:

 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori.

 

And it's not as if nobody knew.  It's not as if wars have to be fought in order to learn each time that war is hell.  It's not as if each new type of weaponry suddenly makes war evil.  It's not as if war wasn't already the worst thing every created.  It's not as if people didn't say so, didn't resist, didn't propose alternatives, didn't go to prison for their convictions.

In 1915, Jane Addams met with President Wilson and urged him to offer mediation to Europe.  Wilson praised the peace terms drafted by a conference of women for peace held in the Hague.  He received 10,000 telegrams from women asking him to act.  Historians believe that had he acted in 1915 or early in 1916 he might very well have helped bring the Great War to an end under circumstances that would have furthered a far more durable peace than the one made eventually at Versailles.  Wilson did act on the advice of Addams, and of his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, but not until it was too late.  The Germans did not trust a mediator who had been aiding the British war effort.  Wilson was left to campaign for reelection on a platform of peace and then quickly propagandize and plunge the United States into Europe's war.  And the number of progressives Wilson brought, at least briefly, to the side of loving war makes Obama look like an amateur.

It was not a new story.  From 1856 to 1860 Elihu Burritt had promoted a plan to prevent civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, an example that the English had set in the West Indies.  Burritt traveled constantly, speaking all over the country.  He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland.  He lined up prominent supporters.  He edited newsletters.  And he was right.  England had freed its slaves in the Caribbean without a war.  Russia had freed its serfs without a war.  Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that.  And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.  What does being right get you? Forgotten.  Who's ever heard of Elihu Burritt?

But the victories are as forgotten as the failures, and that's probably what hurts us the most.  The Outlawry Movement of the 1920s—the movement to outlaw war—sought to replace war with arbitration, by first banning war and then developing a code of international law and a court with the authority to settle disputes.  The first step was taken in 1928 with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which banned all war.  Today 81 nations are party to that treaty, including ours, and many of them comply with it.  I'd like to see additional nations, poorer nations that were left out of the treaty, join it (which they can do simply by stating that intention) and then urge the greatest purveyor of violence in the world to comply.

I wrote a book about the movement that created that treaty, not just because we need to continue its work, but also because we can learn from its methods.  Here was a movement that united people across the political spectrum, those for and against alcohol, those for and against the League of Nations, with a proposal to criminalize war.  It was an uncomfortably large coalition.  There were negotiations and peace pacts between rival factions of the peace movement.  There was a moral case made that expected the best of people.  War wasn't opposed merely on economic grounds or because it might kill people from our own country.  It was opposed as mass murder, as no less barbaric than duelling as a means of settling individuals' disputes.  Here was a movement with a long-term vision based on educating and organizing.  There was an endless hurricane of lobbying, but no endorsing of politicians, no aligning of a movement behind a party.  On the contrary, all four -- yes, four -- major parties were compelled to line up behind the movement.  Instead of Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, the Republican National Convention of 1924 saw President Coolidge promising to outlaw war if reelected.

And on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France, that scene happened that made it into a 1950s folk song as a mighty room filled with men, and the papers they were signing said they'd never fight again.  And it was men, women were outside protesting.  And it was a pact among wealthy nations that nonetheless would continue making war on and colonizing the poor.  But it was a pact for peace that ended wars and ended the acceptance of territorial gains made through wars, except in Palestine.  It was a treaty that still required a body of law and an international court that we still do not have.  But it was a treaty that in 85 years those wealthy nations would, in relation to each other, violate only once.  Following World War II, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was used to prosecute victor's justice.  And the big armed nations never went to war with each other again, yet.  And so, the pact is generally considered to have failed.  Imagine if we banned bribery, and the next year threw Sheldon Adelson in prison, and nobody ever bribed again.  Would we declare the law a failure, throw it out, and declare bribery henceforth legal as a matter of natural inevitability?  Why should war be different?  We can and must be rid of war, and therefore incidentally we can and must be rid of bribery, or -- excuse me -- campaign contributions.

Activists in St. Paul, where Secretary of State Kellogg was from, and Chicago, where Salmon Levinson who led the movement for Outlawry was from, are working on getting their cities to make August 27th a holiday for peace.  In the meantime, we need to reclaim Armistice Day and Mother's Day and Martin Luther King day, as well as the International Day of Peace, because we're up against Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Military Spouses Appreciation Day, the Iraq Afghanistan Wars Holiday, and dozens of others for every day of the year -- and this time I didn't make any of those up.

World War II changed everything, has never ended, and needs to be ended by us before we are ended by it.  The horror and costs of World War II make World War I look like child's play.  And yet the response of the nation has not been to radically expand the campaign to abolish war.  Instead we've allowed war to become so much our new "normalcy" that we can't distinguish between war time and peace time anymore, and abuses justified by war time are justified for all time now.

On August 14, 1941, the military brought before the Senate plans to build a permanent building that would be the largest office building in the world and would be called the Pentagon.  Senator Arthur Vandenberg asked for an explanation: "Unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size?" Then he began to catch on: "Or is the war to be permanent?" he asked.

We weren't supposed to have standing armies, much less armies standing in everyone else's countries, much less armies fighting wars over the control of fuels that destroy the planet and armies that themselves consume the greatest quantity of those fuels, even though the armies lose all the wars.  Before the Nobel Peace Prize was handed out to war makers, it was intended for those who had done the best work of removing standing armies from the world.  World War II changed everything.

We never went back to pre-WWII taxes or pre-WWII military or pre-WWII restraint in foreign empire or pre-WWII respect for civil liberties or pre-WWII notions of who deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.  We saw advances in civil rights for minorities, including the right to vote, but we saw the virtual elimination of any way to elect anti-war candidates.

We never saw another declaration of war from Congress, but we never stopped using those of 1941, never left Germany, never left Japan, never dismantled the Pentagon.  Instead, as William Blum documents in his remarkable new book, "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy," since the supposed end of WWII, the United States has tried to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of them democratically elected; interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders; dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries; and attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 nations.

Oh, but we meant well, and we mean well.  Absolutely not so.  There's no "we" involved here.  The U.S. government meant and means global domination, nothing else.  And yet, even foreigners buy the U.S. snake oil.  Gaddafi thought he could please Washington and be spared.  So did the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein.  When Hugo Chavez heard about the coup planned against him in 2002, he sent a representative to Washington to plead his case.  The coup went ahead just the same.  Subcomandante Marcos believed Washington would support the Zapatistas once it understood who they were.  Ho Chi Minh had seen behind the curtain when Woodrow Wilson was president; World War II didn't change quite everything.  Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Cheddi Jagan of British Guyana, and the foreign minister of Guatemala appealed to Washington for peace before the Pentagon overthrew their governments.  "We" don't mean well when we threaten war on Iran any more than we meant well when "we" overthrew Iran's government in 1953.  The U.S. government has the very same agenda it had in 1953 because it is still engaged in the very same war, the war without end.

At the very moment of supreme moral pretense in 1946, as the United States was leading the prosecution of Nazi war crimes including the crime of war, and killing the Nazis found guilty, at the very moment when Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson was declaring that those who sat in judgment at Nuremberg would be subject to the same standard of law, the United States was giving Guatemalans syphilis to see what would happen to them, and importing Nazi scientists by the dozen to work for the Pentagon.  The war to save 6 million Jews that in reality condemned them and 60 million others to death, the war of innocence that followed the arming of the Chinese and the British, and before that the arming of the Nazis and Japanese, the war against empire that in reality spread the largest empire the earth has known, the war against inhumanity that in reality developed and used the greatest weapons ever directed against humans: that war wasn't a triumph; it IS a triumph.  It has never ended.  We've never stopped making our children pledge allegiance like little fascists.  We've never stopped dumping our money into the complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us would exert total influence over our society.  We've never stopped to consider whether attacks on a finite planet must end someday.  Truman showed Stalin a couple of bombs, and the flags haven't stopped waving yet.

The Marshall Plan was a plan for domination—smarter and more skillful domination than some other attempts—but still domination.  U.S. capitalist control was the highest purpose.  Sabotage of leftist political gains was the primary approach.  It's never changed.  Dictators that play along have "our" full support.  Don't go looking for "humanitarian" attacks by NATO in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Jordan or UAE or Qatar or Kuwait or Yemen, any more than Obama was willing to turn against Ben Ali or Mubarak or Gadaffi or Assad until doing so appeared strategic for the pursuit of global domination.  The United States does not intervene.  It never intervenes.  It is incapable of intervening.  This is because it is already intervened everywhere.  What it calls intervening is actually switching sides.

The branches are blurring.  The military, CIA, State Department, and Drug Enforcement Agency are becoming a team that operates in secret at the behest of the President.  The Pentagon now has its own "intelligence" agency, while the State Department has its own office of proxy war making.  U.S. Special Forces are active in 70 nations on any given day, on behalf of the President, without the authorization of Congress, and in the name of the uninformed people of the United States.  The "special" forces, operating under the acronyms SOCOM and JSOC, are no longer special for being smaller.  They're special for having the power to operate in greater secrecy and without the apparent limitation of any laws whatsoever.

Remember that raid that killed Osama bin Laden?  Yay! Hurray! Whooo Hooo! Murder is sooooooo cool.  But did you know that soldiers working for you do at least a dozen such raids somewhere in the world on any given night?  Are you confident that everyone killed in a dozen raids a night deserves execution without charge or trial?  Are you certain that this practice sets a good example?  Would you support other nations adopting its use?  "Our" "special" forces are now larger than most nations' militaries, and we don't have the slightest idea what those forces are doing.  "Our access [to foreign countries]," says Eric Olson, former chief of Special Operations Command, "depends on our ability to not talk about it."

The U.S. military has set up dozens of bases all over the world from which to fly killer robots known as drones.  And there are dozens of bases all over the United States involved in the drone wars.  At Fort Benning in Georgia, where the annual protest of the School of the Americas torture school is coming up soon, they're testing drones that can shoot to kill without human input.  What could go wrong? 

Not only has the blowback begun, but it's how we learn where some of the drone bases are.  In 2009, a suicide attack killed CIA officers and mercenaries at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the Khost province of Afghanistan, and only then did we learn that the base was used for targeting drone murders in Pakistan.

This is of course apart from the usual blowback of greatly heightened hostility which is being produced by the U.S. military in nations all over the world.  The 2010 attack on Libya, for example, resulted in well-armed Tuareg mercenaries, who had backed Gadaffi, heading back to Mali, destabilizing that country, and producing a military coup by a U.S.-trained officer, as well as parts of the country being seized by the latest al Qaeda affiliate.  And that's in Mali.  Never mind what a paradise Libya has become post liberation!

Many of the bases the U.S. military uses abroad are in nations less heavily occupied than Afghanistan.  They are permitted to operate where they do by the nasty governments of those nations, thanks to U.S. support for dictatorship.  This explains why the Arab Spring produced so much footage of U.S.-made armored personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters, and tear gas.  The Obama administration is eagerly increasing supplies of U.S.-made weaponry to the very regimes beating, jailing, and killing pro-democracy activists.  Repeat after me: "But it's a jobs program."

In fact, it's a major jobs program.  The Pentagon/State Department markets U.S. weapons abroad, and the U.S. tripled its sales of weapons abroad last year, now accounting for 85% of international weapons sales.

But the weapons sales are the least of it.  The United States now maintains its own troops in most nations on the earth and engages in joint training exercises with the local militaries.  The biggest areas for base construction today are probably Afghanistan and Africa.  Despite the supposed "winding down" of the war on Afghanistan over the next 2 or 12 years, base construction is moving ahead full steam, including new "secret" bases for "special" forces, new "secret" drone bases, and new prisons.  The thinking—and I use the term generously—in Afghanistan and around the globe is that the United States should let the locals do more of the killing and dying.  Of course, this hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than it worked in Vietnam.  In Afghanistan, a proxy war in the 1980s produced notable blowback that can only be appreciated by fanatics for continued war, not by residents of New York or Washington.

The hurricanes and the rising ocean are our own creation.  If we want to turn this trend around we will have to shut down the Department of so-called Defense and create a new department aimed at defending us from dangers that actually exist.

We are up against a military industrial complex that barely existed before World War II and now dominates our government.  Over half of federal discretionary spending is dumped into it every year.  It funds campaigns and it creates jobs that can easily be eliminated.  It creates fewer jobs than any other use of the same dollars, but any other use would be socialism because it wouldn't kill anyone.  The jobs are as permanent as the spending.  We don't even pretend the wars will end all war anymore.  Our Nobel laureates proclaim the permanence of war in their peace prize acceptance speeches.

We can take on the military industrial complex, but it will mean forming a very large coalition of interested but fearful parties.  There's a group co-founded by a friend of mine in this area called Environmentalists Against War.  But most big environmental groups won't take on our biggest environmental destroyer.  In fact, they won't even mention climate change if the president asks them not to, as he did in 2009.  The war preparation spending is what drives the torture and imprisonment and assassinations, but the ACLU won't recognize its existence.  Wars drive immigrants out of their countries and then exploit them when they get here, but immigrants rights groups won't touch war.  If we were to cut war preparations by 80%, leaving the United States with still the biggest military in the world, we could have a green energy program that might just save us, not to mention the best quality housing, transportation, education, healthcare, and retirements to be had.  We could invent a dozen important human rights merely by reducing what we spend on the worst crime yet conceived.  But where are the anti-poverty groups, the education groups, the housing groups when it comes to opposing the Pentagon.  They're cowering.  Not all together, but all separately.  Together we could turn this thing around.

We've now voted down the racists and yet our government's primary function remains killing dark people.  Do we object to racism only in domestic policy?

We are supposedly standing beside something called a fiscal cliff.  You know what this makes me think of?  I picture a person standing near the top of a cliff, and tied to the person's legs are two chains.  Each chain runs over the edge of the cliff and supports a massive weight.  The person is struggling to remain standing as these two enormous weights pull downward.  One of the weights is war preparations spending.  The other is tax cuts for the super rich that we are apparently required to name for Bush no matter how long Obama is around.  Now the person is falling and being dragged backwards, face-down toward the edge.  But then I picture an endless number of other people in exactly the same situation, and very close to each other.  And we are able to take the chains off each other's ankles.  This is what we now need: massive cuts to war spending, and massive increases in taxation of plutocrats -- plus massive spending on green energy and all things good and decent.  Demanding that cuts to Social Security be a little smaller than they might be is not going to save us.

We should remember at a time like this that when the slightly less funded of two corporate funded candidates wins, we don't win.  President Obama publicly and illegally instructed the Attorney General not to prosecute the CIA for torture.  We accepted that.  Obama told unions not to say "single payer" and they didn't.  The peace movement spent the first Obama year muttering about how it was too early, the second worrying about the midterm elections, the third trying to focus the Occupy Movement on our collective antagonists, and the fourth being scared of Mitt Romney.  Now we're being told we must not demand military spending cuts or the prosecution of war crimes or the immediate withdrawal of forces abroad.  Progressive groups want to pretend to take a stand on Social Security and Medicare before caving.  Their opening pretense doesn't even touch military spending.  It's our job to add that to the conversation.

So, I don't want any more emails telling me to help Obama succeed at progressive efforts he is working hard against.  I want Billionaires for Bush brought back as Oligarchs for Obama.  I want the Bush Crimes Commission revived as the Obama Crimes Commission.  I want John Conyers's threat to push for the impeachment of Bush if he attacks Iran applied to Obama.  And I want the peace movement back!

I propose that we pledge right now to protest and vote against anyone in Congress or the White House who gives an inch on protecting Social Security and Medicare, who votes for current levels of military spending or anything above 75% of current levels, or who fails to oppose wars or to act against climate change.  No more honey moons.  No more veal pens in which the public servants tell the public organizations how to serve them.  And no more promises to vote for someone no matter what they do to us or to our brothers and sisters around the world. We need to use nonviolent action not only to end war but also to provide an alternative path for our young people who might otherwise sign up to kill and die.  Nonviolence requires more bravery, more commitment, more morality, and is far more satisfying than joining the Marines, no matter how benevolent the TV advertisements look.

The Declaration of Independence says we have the right to institute new government.  It's getting to be about that time.

Veterans For Peace Sues to March in Veterans Day Parade

Veterans For Peace Chapter 92 in Greater Seattle is represented by the ACLU of Washington in suing the city of Auburn for the right to participate in this year's Veterans Day Parade.

Veterans For Peace chapters are participating in events on or around this November 11th in over 50 U.S. cities, many of them honoring the tradition of Armistice Day, the earlier name for what is now called Veterans Day.

Veterans For Peace has participated in the Auburn parade every year since 2006. 

Auburn rejected VFP's application to march in the parade this year, saying that other applicants more closely met the parade's goals and purpose.  Among the applicants accepted are a motorcycle club, a Corvette club, the Optimists and Kiwanis International, the Sons of Italy, and a Daffodil Festival float. 

The suit asserts that the City of Auburn is discriminating against Veterans For Peace because of the group’s viewpoint, and seeks a court order to allow VFP to march.

Michelle J. Kinnucan, President, Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace, said, "When VFP 92 asked for more information about why its application had initially been denied, the City explained in an email dated October 25, 2010, that ... 'staff reviewed [VFP 92’s] current website as well as photos and the parade video from 2009 and felt that [VFP 92’s] entry could be considered controversial and may not positively focus on honoring our country’s veterans and active military personnel.'"

"Look at the choice that Auburn is setting up for people who have seen war for themselves," said national VFP president Leah Bolger.  "Either play along with the deadly lie that war is good and glorious, or be banished from the community and excluded from public events.  Imagine the position that puts people in who know that, as Ben Franklin said, there has never been a good war or a bad peace.  We should honor their courage in saying so, not deny them First Amendment rights that our highest courts now tell us even corporations can claim!"

Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

Read the legal complaint and news coverage:

ACLU of Washington State

Seattle Times

News Tribune


Veterans Plan Armistice Day Events in Over 50 U.S. Cities

Veterans for Peace chapters across the nation are meeting in major cities to celebrate the original Armistice Day as was done at the end of World War I, when the world came together in realization that war is so horrible we must end it now.  

Game Meant to Oppose War on Iran Builds in Pro-War Propaganda

Veterans For Peace supports the abolition of war.  We therefore have mixed feelings about opposition to a particular war when that opposition supports the institution of war making as an acceptable tool of public policy, and when the opposition builds into its assumptions much of the propaganda it should be exposing.

Veterans For Peace Illegally Spied on By Boston Police Fusion Center

Veterans For Peace in Boston, the late VFP member Howard Zinn, and several other peace organizations in Boston have been routinely spied on for years, and records kept on their peaceful and lawful activities.  The Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, BRIC, (the local "fusion center") have collected and kept so-called "intelligence reports" documenting constitutionally protected speech and political activity.  While not a single report refers to any engagement in or plans for violence, peace rallies are called "Criminal Acts," and the reports are labeled as dealing with "Extremists," "Civil Disturbance," and "HomeSec-Domestic."

Fusion center employees working for the Boston Police, the FBI, and the Homeland Security Department have been a constant presence at peace events and have interrogated peace activists about purely legal activities.  The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild have obtained documents and videotapes after suing on behalf of five organizations and four individuals.  One of the organizations is Veterans For Peace – Chapter 9 Smedley D. Butler Brigade.  The ACLU/NLG report and a related video are here: http://aclum.org/policing_dissent

The video includes commentary by Pat Scanlon, Coordinator of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 9. Pat is a decorated Vietnam Veteran, a graduate of the United States Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He was an Intelligence Analyst, held a top-secret clearance and worked in Intelligence at MACV headquarters in Saigon for the year of 1969.

“While in the Army," says Scanlon, "I was in Military Intelligence. I saw and handled numerous files of investigations conducted by the U.S. Army on U.S. citizens and students participating in local peace activities in their communities and on college campuses. This recent revelation of the Boston Police monitoring peace activists in Boston is proof of what I believe is a continuation of forty years of this kind of surveillance and monitoring of peace groups and individuals around the country by police and other government agencies."

Scanlon objects to being labeled an "extremist" for opposing war.  "Who are the real extremists here, let me get this straight. Members of Veterans For Peace, veterans who have dutifully served our country, many in the line of fire, many with military decorations, who have personally experienced the horrors of war and now stand for peace are labeled as extremists and monitored by local police departments as a threat. While those who illegally took this country to war in Iraq resulting in over 4,700 deaths of our young men and women, 30,000 wounded, 30% suffering from PTSD, suicide rates increasing 15% each year, 1,000,000 Iraqis killed, 3,000,000 Iraqi refugees now scattered in countries around the world: These folks are not considered extremists, yet members of Veterans For Peace are? What is wrong with that picture?"

Michael T. McPhearson, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, and a Veterans For Peace Board Member, added, "I am saddened that my nation which I have served as a soldier in the army has wandered so far off track that calling for peace, justice and respect for life and liberty is considered an extreme position. Is the next step to quiet my voice and take my right to free speech?"

Leah Bolger, national president of Veterans For Peace, was dismayed to learn of these practices. "To learn that Veterans For Peace has been labeled as an 'extremist' organization is absolutely shocking," said Bolger.  "Veterans For Peace is an organization of military veterans who, from the day of our inception in 1985, have dedicated ourselves to using non-violent means to end war and militarism.  Our experiences with combat and the military have taught us that war is immoral and counter productive; we now use our voices as veterans to denounce and resist the illegal and immoral military actions of our own country.  It is quite disturbing to learn that our government is so threatened by our voice that they have resorted to spying on us, and characterizing us as 'extremists.'  This is a very sad commentary."

Fusion centers that combine federal and local departments and militarize policing are all over the country, not just in Boston.  The ACLU/NLG report provides some context:

"These revelations come on the heels of a report by a bipartisan US Senate subcommittee, which found that the federal government’s work with state and local fusion centers — among them the BRIC — 'has not produced useful intelligence to support Federal counterterrorism efforts.' 'Fusion centers' were created in the aftermath of 9/11, ostensibly so the federal government could 'share terrorism-related information with states and localities.' One of two 'intelligence fusion centers' in Massachusetts, the BRIC was created in 2005 as 'a way to further integrate the intelligence capabilities of Boston, local, state and federal law enforcement partners.' Since then, it has received millions of dollars in federal funding and operated entirely absent independent public oversight or accountability. According to the Senate subcommittee report released earlier this month, the lack of accountability at fusion centers nationwide has translated into poor results: the report found that the millions of dollars poured into centers like the BRIC have failed to uncover a single terrorist plot. Instead, fusion centers have 'forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality  — often times shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.'  When they were related to terrorism, intelligence reports produced by fusion centers 'duplicated a faster, more efficient information-sharing process already in place between local police and the FBI-led Terrorist Screening Center.'  One Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told investigators that fusion centers produce 'a lot of…predominately useless information,' and at times, said another, 'a bunch of crap.'"

Watch WHDH-Channel 7 news report: http://bit.ly/TfIhnf

Listen to WBUR-90.9 news report: http://bit.ly/WEoUnb

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

Charges Dismissed Against Nuclear Missile Launch Protesters

Charges were dismissed on Wednesday in federal court in Santa Barbara, Calif., against fifteen people, including four members of Veterans For Peace, who were scheduled to face trial on Wednesday as a result of their nonviolent protest of nuclear warheads at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  The 15 had been arrested on February 25th for protesting the launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  Video: http://youtu.be/sGYVee9yW9Y

The Veterans For Peace facing trial were Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley, Calif.; Fr. Louie Vitale of Oakland, Calif. and Las Vegas, Nev.; John Amidon of Albany, N.Y.; and Mark Kelso of Las Vegas, Nev.

The district attorney moved to dismiss all charges.  Two of the defendants, John Amidon and Toby Blome, wanting to raise their concerns about the Minuteman III missiles in court, offered motion not to dismiss.  The judge sided with the district attorney.

Some of the same people will be among those protesting again on November 13th when another missile test is scheduled:

http://www.facebook.com/events/464316103593122

McGregor Eddy, one of the defendants, called the dismissal a victory.  "The military," she said, "wants to avoid drawing attention to thermonuclear warheads that serve no purpose and cost a great deal of money.  Many young people don't even know about these nuclear weapons.  When we say 'nukes' they think of nuclear power."

Fr. Louie Vitale agreed, calling the dismissal "a great victory."  Vitale added, "I've been on trial here several times and always lost.  This was a victory.  And we'll be there in November to protest the next launch."

Vitale said that the public in Santa Barbara had learned a great deal through the work of the coalition formed around this protest and near-trial, including with the help of David Krieger and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

At 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday, October 16th, a free public event called "Putting U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies on Trial: A Forum with the Vandenberg 15" was held at Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, Calif.  Speakers included Daniel Ellsberg, Fr. Louie Vitale, Cindy Sheehan, and David Krieger.  The event was cosponsored by Code Pink, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nevada Desert Experience, Progressive Democrats of Santa Barbara, Veterans for Peace, Western States Legal Foundation, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Santa Barbara).

"We were protesting a rehearsal of a holocaust," said Ellsberg. "Every minuteman missile is a portable Auschwitz."  Video of Ellsberg: http://youtu.be/E-s0_JI8Dp4

"We have 450 land-based Minuteman III nuclear missiles on high alert," said Amidon.  Despite hundreds of near-disasters due to human and mechanical mistakes over the years, these nuclear-armed missiles could be sent by a U.S. president in 13 minutes or less.  Thirteen minutes, with the very real possibility that false information, an electronic glitch or bad signal, or an error in human judgment, would bring the world as we know it to an end.  Minuteman III missiles would not, and nothing can, prevent retaliation.  Even without retaliation, their unilateral use would ruin the earth's atmosphere -- all over the earth.  The missiles' only function is to kill others in a process that kills us too."

"An easy immediate step toward sanity," Amidon continued, "would be to de-alert the missiles so that 24 to 72 hours would be needed to launch.  This would increase our security by reducing the likelihood of an accidental or unauthorized launch.  Those intent on achieving nuclear doomsday could rest assured that U.S. submarines and bombers would remain able to complete that job many times over.

"A second needed and obvious step that would also work wonders for our federal budget would be to decommission these missiles.  We are also calling for a cancellation of the November 14, 2012, missile (thermonuclear warhead delivery systems) test at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This will save between $20 to $30 million for this one launch."

RootsAction.org has set up an online action page through which people can email the government on this topic:

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6741

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

##

Veterans For Peace Go to Trial for Protesting Missile Launch

At 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday, October 16th,a free public event called "Putting U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies on Trial: A Forum with the Vandenberg 15" will be held at Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, Calif.  Speakers will include Daniel Ellsberg, Fr. Louie Vitale, Cindy Sheehan, and David Krieger.  The event is cosponsored by Code Pink, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nevada Desert Experience, Progressive Democrats of Santa Barbara, Veterans for Peace, Western States Legal Foundation, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Santa Barbara).

At 9 a.m. PT on Wednesday, October 17th,fifteen people, including four members of Veterans For Peace, will face trial in federal court at 1415 State Street, Santa Barbara, Calif.  They were arrested on February 25th for protesting the launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  Video: http://youtu.be/sGYVee9yW9Y

The Veterans For Peace facing trial are Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley, Calif.; Fr. Louie Vitale of Oakland, Calif. and Las Vegas, Nev.; John Amidon of Albany, N.Y.; and Mark Kelso of Las Vegas, Nev.  

"We were protesting a rehearsal of a holocaust," said Ellsberg. "Every minuteman missile is a portable Auschwitz."  Video of Ellsberg: http://youtu.be/E-s0_JI8Dp4

"We have 450 land-based Minuteman III nuclear missiles on high alert," said Amidon.  Despite hundreds of near-disasters due to human and mechanical mistakes over the years, these nuclear-armed missiles could be sent by a U.S. president in 13 minutes or less.  Thirteen minutes, with the very real possibility that false information, an electronic glitch or bad signal, or an error in human judgment, would bring the world as we know it to an end.  Minuteman III missiles would not, and nothing can, prevent retaliation.  Even without retaliation, their unilateral use would ruin the earth's atmosphere -- all over the earth.  The missiles' only function is to kill others in a process that kills us too."

"An easy immediate step toward sanity," Amidon continued, "would be to de-alert the missiles so that 24 to 72 hours would be needed to launch.  This would increase our security by reducing the likelihood of an accidental or unauthorized launch.  Those intent on achieving nuclear doomsday could rest assured that U.S. submarines and bombers would remain able to complete that job many times over.

"A second needed and obvious step that would also work wonders for our federal budget would be to decommission these missiles.  We are also calling for a cancellation of the November 14, 2012, missile (thermonuclear warhead delivery systems) test at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This will save between $20 to $30 million for this one launch."

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

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US / NATO OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW!

How Many More Will Die for a Lie?

Veterans For Peace opposed the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.  We did not believe it was justified.  As military veterans, we did not think that war and occupation were what the world needed.  Eleven years later in our nation's longest war, it is apparent that the US / NATO occupation of Afghanistan has been based on a series of lies.  One of the biggest lies today is that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is succeeding, and the American people should therefore be patient with a phased withdrawal over several years.

The Pentagon’s Afghanistan strategy is up in smoke, more exposed than ever in recent news reports. The now-ended “surge” failed to break the momentum of the Afghan resistance, and officials have now abandoned their hope for a peace deal with the Taliban. Even so, there are twice as many U.S. troops, contractors and mercenaries in Afghanistan as when Obama took office.

A “withdrawal” strategy based on training Afghan police and military has been smashed by “insider killings.The Afghan people, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.

The generals and politicians know their war can never be won, and they admit this behind closed doors.  But they refuse to take responsibility for a 'military defeat' on their watch. So they lie to the public, say all is going as planned, and continue sending young men and women into a failed mission to save face.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed and maimed.Innocent civilians, including children, are killed by US/NATO forces on a regular basis. The Afghan people had no role in the 9/11 attacks.  Rather, 9/11 was made the rationale for an invasion that was already in the planning—not for freedom, democracy or human rights, but for Washington's and Wall Street's economic and geostrategic interests.

Over 2,134 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistanmore than 250 so far this year alone,  This figure does not include another one thousand NATO deaths, or contractors and mercenaries.

The seen and unseen wounds of this unjustified and failed war are killing soldiers at a higher rate than combat. A June New York Times articlereported more suicides among active duty troops than soldiers dying on the battlefield with at that time 154 taking their own lives, averaging one a day. This is in contrast to 124 fatalities from fighting in Afghanistan. The deaths continue at home as veterans return to devastated communities with services cut, no jobs to be found and suffering from physical and mental injuries. According to a widely cited VA report, 18 veterans commit suicide every-day. Or to put it another way, 1 every 80 minutes.

How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” asks Army LTC Daniel Davis, who traveled 9,000 miles through 8 provinces in Afghanistan before writing a grim assessmentof the US/NATO occupation. Colonel Davis is right—nobody else should be sacrificed in a lost cause.

Withdrawing all U.S. troops immediately—as favored by a large majority of American people– would be the right thing to do. Instead, our elected 'leaders' in government and unelected 'leaders' in the Pentagon are forcing troops into multiple deployments simply because they don’t want to be embarrassed.

Soldiers have alternatives to going to war, and Veterans For Peace is actively engaged in reaching out to GIs about those alternatives. For example, they may seek to be discharged as Conscientious Objectors.  Or they can demand real treatment for their physical and psychological wounds, instead of redeployment to war.

Tens of thousands of military personnel have gone AWOL since 2001.Many are living discreetly in the U.S. or seeking sanctuary in Canada, Germany and elsewhere.  We support war resisters. And in contrast to cynical politicians and generals, we actually do “support the troops.”

Veterans For Peace is joining forces with the young veterans of March Forward in the Our Lives Our Rights campaign.  We are reaching out to active duty GI's with a message of hope.  “If you wish to avoid returning to war, we will help you.  You don't have to go to Afghanistan.”

For more information about Our Lives Our Rights,

Call Mike Prysner at 813-785-3179 or Gerry Condon at 206-499-1220

Email projectsafehaven@hotmail.com, orvisitthe campaign website at www.ourlivesourrights.org.

Veterans and Allies Arrested in New York as Afghanistan War Enters Year 12

Veterans and Allies Arrested in New York as Afghanistan War Enters Year 12

Twenty-five people, most of them U.S. military veterans, were arrested while laying flowers at a war memorial in New York City Oct. 7. They were engaged in a peaceful vigil to honor those killed and wounded in war and to oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan as it entered its 12th year.

The vigil was held at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan and began with a program of music and speakers including Vietnam veteran Bishop George Packard, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges, and Iraq combat veteran Jenny Pacanowski. At 8:30, the protesters began reading the names of the New York soldiers killed in Vietnam who are commemorated at the plaza and the military dead in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At 10:15 pm, the police informed the group that the park was officially closed and that if they remained they would be arrested. Many chose to continue reading names and laying flowers until they were handcuffed and taken away.  One of the arrestees was Word War II Army combat veteran, Jay Wenk, 85, from Woodstock, NY.

The veterans had four aims:

  • Demand an end to the 11-year war in Afghanistan
  • Demand an end to all U.S. wars of aggression
  • Remember all those killed and wounded by war
  • Stand up for our right, and duty, to assemble and organize

Photojournalist, poet and Vietnam veteran Mike Hastie was the first arrested, after appealing to police not to force the veterans out of the war memorial: “This is a sad day. I was a medic in Vietnam. I watched soldiers commit suicide. I had soldiers’ brains all over my lap. How can you do this? How can you arrest me for being at a war memorial?”

Former VFP President Mike Ferner said, “I bet a lot of the arresting officers tonight were also military veterans; a number of them didn’t look too happy with the job they were told to do.”

“War is a public health problem, not only because of those killed directly, but also for the lingering trauma it causes,” said leading health care activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. “Ending war would be a good preventive health care measure.”

Poet Jenny Pacanowski read part of her poem “Parade,” which began “The funeral procession from Syracuse airport to Ithaca NY was over 50 miles long./Dragging his dead body through town after town of people, families and children waving flags./The fallen HERO had finally come home./I wonder how many children who saw this, will someday want to be dead HEROS too./I did not wave a flag that day or any day since my return.” She went on, “I live in a dream called my life. Where the good things don't seem real or sustainable./I live in the nightmares of the past called Iraq and PTSD that never run out of fuel./Is it better to be dead hero?/Or a living fucked up, addicted, crazy veteran?”

“As long as we keep exposing the truth about these wars, then these people will not have died in vain,” said VFP board member Tarak Kauff.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters across the U.S.  VFP has official "Observer" status at the United Nations, and is the only national veterans organization calling for the abolition of war.
 

Americans in Pakistan Meet Families of Victims Obama Says Don't Exist

Thirty-two U.S. peace activists, including 6 members of Veterans For Peace are taking part in a peace delegation to Pakistan organized by the anti-war group Code Pink.

See video: http://vimeo.com/50666774

Wednesday the delegation met with U.S. Charge d'Affaires Richard Hoagland.  U.S. peace activist Robert Naiman asked about reports of secondary attacks on rescuers of drone victims.  Ambassador Hoagland denied that rescuers are targeted, but not that strikes are launched on the same location just struck minutes before.

Hoagland also said that he agreed with President Obama that the number of civilian deaths was near zero, but later seemed to contradict himself when he said that number he believed was accurate was in "two digits."  When asked to be more specific as to whether that number was closer to 10 or 99, he declined.

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