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After Years-Long Media Black-Out, The Prosecution of an American President Opens at US Theaters

After a years-long media black-out and a grueling battle to get the film shown in the US, The Prosecution of an American President, the brainchild of the Los Angeles County prosecutor who prosecuted Charles Manson, opens at theaters this week.  In its long trek to the American big screen, the movie was originally scheduled to be run on HBO before the channel dropped it at the last minute.  Bugliosi then had to go outside the country to find a producer, Windsor Ontario NAFTC Studios.

Yahoo News:

Veterans For Peace Now in Pakistan Opposing Drone War

Seven Members of Veterans For Peace are part of a 40-member delegation organized by Code Pink now in Pakistan through October 10th. VFP members Leah Bolger, Dave Dittemore, Bill Kelly, Jody Mackey, Rob Mulford, and Ann Wright are meeting with drone victims' families, elected officials, tribal elders, and residents of South Waziristan, where U.S. drone strikes have killed thousands, while injuring and making refugees of many more. Code Pink's Medea Benjamin is an associate member of VFP.

The relentless drone war continued with a U.S. drone strike in the Mir Ali area on Monday, reportedly killing three unidentified people.

At the same time, the Pakistani media is full of accounts of the U.S. delegation and their planned participation in a march to the heaviest hit areas, a story also appearing in British and other world media.  The English language Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports:

"ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan said that a 30-member foreign delegation had reached Islamabad on Sunday which would participate in PTI’s 'peace rally' in South Waziristan, DawnNews reported.

"The PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that people who do not want peace are against PTI peace rally.

"Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Khan said Mehsud, Burki and Bhittani tribes of  Waziristan have welcomed the peace rally. The tribal leaders had also assured the security of the participants of the rally, he added.

"He complained that the government was not issuing visas to the foreign journalists and human right’s activists who wanted to attend the rally.

"Speaking on the occasion, US citizen Ann Wright, who is a former diplomat and military woman, said most of the American people were against drone attacks.

“'Drone attacks are illegal and criminal. We request the people of Pakistan to raise their voice against them. We will go to Waziristan to apologise to the relatives of those killed by drones,' said Ms Wright, who is also the spokesperson for the Anti-War Movement.
"She said the US had been violating the sovereignty of Pakistan. 'There is travel warning for the US citizens but we have come here and will go to the places where our government does not want us to go,' she said.

Other US citizens who have reached here to take part in the PTI rally include Paki Wieland, a social worker (Massachusetts); Linda Wenning, a graduate from the University of Utah; Lorna Vander Zanden and Pam Bailey (Virginia); Jolie Terrazas, Judy Bello, Katie Falkenberg, Daniel Burns and Joe Lombardo (New York); Barbara Briggs, Tighe Barry, Sushila Cherian, Dianne Budd and Toby Blome (California); Leah Bolger, Tudy Cooper and Michael Gaskill (Oregon); Medea Benjamin, Jody Tiller and Alli McCracken (Washington DC); Anam Eljabali (Illinois), Patricia Chaffee (Wisconsin), Joan Nicholson (Pennsylvania), Robert Naiman and JoAnne Lingle (Indiana); Rob Mulford (Alaska), Lois Mastrangelo (Massachusetts) and Billy Kelly (New Jersey).

"Meanwhile explaining the route of the rally, the PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said  thet the march will start from Islamabad’s Blue Area and will proceed towards Balkasar, Talagang, Mianwali and DI Khan on October 6.

"On October 7, the rally will gather at Tank and then head towards South Waziristan where a public meeting will be held at Kot Kai, he added."

 

Veterans For Peace President Leah Bolger reports that, in addition to Ann Wright, Bill Kelly, Rob Mulford, and herself took part in the press conference representing VFP.  Wright was introduced by Khan and spoke about the purpose of the delegation, and answered questions from the press.  Bolger reounts:

 

"Ann did a fantastic job of describing the purpose of the delegation and responding to reporters' questions which included asking us if we were concerned for our own safety, given the strong anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.  She was very candid in saying that we were opposed to the policies of our own government which we consider to be illegal and immoral, and that as citizens of the United States we apologized for the deaths of Pakistanis because of the drone strikes.  She went on to say that the U.S. government does not want us to be here in Pakistan, but that despite official State Department warnings not to travel here, we are determined to meet with the people who have been harmed by our government, and in our name."

Rob Mulford sent in this comment:

 

"Love is the seed from which the flower of peace grows. Prior to coming to Pakistan, I was often asked by friends, family, loved ones the rhetorical question: why, what do you hope to accomplish, what is the efficacy? Sometimes when put on the spot I struggle for answers grounded in the technical without seeing the ubiquitous truth. I am here to say 'I love you' to a people who have for too long and too often been wrongly vilified. But words are empty without action. The warmth of tacit contact, the handshake, the hug, the reflection of an other's beauty in ones own eyes, and openly sharing one's own vulnerability. This is peace.

"Peace requires courage. Saturday we met with the anthropologist / filmmaker Samar Miniallah Khan. Samar, a Pashtun, tirelessly and courageously works to comfort and protect some of the most venerable people on the face of the earth, women and children who have had no part in the making of a world where they suffer. Her documentary 'Women Behind the Burqa' may just be the most powerful statement that I have ever seen in opposition to war. It needs to be seen by everyone in the United States, shown in schools, to those who govern, and on the popular media. It lays bare the lie that 'we' (US military forces) are involved involved in protecting women.

"Drones are robot assassins, murders. They are not tools of the just."

Pam Bailey reports on her blog:

"Monday evening, I will fly from New York City to Abu Dhabi, and then on to Islamabad. On Oct. 6, I and about 30 others from the United States and the UK will join PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or 'Movement for Justice') Chairman Imran Khan on a convoy into South Waziristan, the 'no-man’s land' along the border with Afghanistan where extremists hide and U.S. drones most often strike.
"Before founding the PTI party in 1996, Khan played international cricket for two decades (at 39, Khan led his teammates to Pakistan’s first and only World Cup victory in 1992) and became a much-beloved philanthropist, including the founding of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre. Foreign Policy magazine described him as 'Pakistan’s Ron Paul.'
"The original plan was for the convoy to penetrate deep into North Waziristan, the heart of the unrest and military response, allowing us to visit the families caught in the crossfire at 'Ground Zero.'
"However, after threats of suicide attacks were received, the plan was revised to limit the convoy to South Waziristan – a path that the Hakimullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or the Pakistani Taliban) has pledged to protect. The question now is whether the Pakistani government will allow the convoy to go ahead. In light of Khan’s criticism of the Pakistani government’s tacit complicity with the U.S. drone attacks, several international journalists already have been denied visas. Stay tuned."

Veterans For Peace member Ray McGovern, not on the trip, provides context here.

VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online petition in support of banning weaponized drones.  VFP members are delivering over 16,000 signatures on the petition to those they meet with in Pakistan: PDF.

In addition, Veterans For Peace is a member organization of UNAC (the United National Antiwar Coalition, a U.S. group), and Leah Bolger represents VFP on the UNAC Administrative Committee.  Joe Lombardo and Judi Bello, also part of the delegation to Pakistan, are also UNAC Administrative Committee members.  UNAC has just released a statement opposing the use of drones: PDF.

Participants are available for interviews by email and phone, and in-person after the trip.

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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PTSD, The Grand Scapegoat

By Joseph Tarantolo, M.D.

The diagnosis of PTSD was created in response to pressure from Vietnam veterans who wanted to be sure of their right to receive medical and financial benefits as befitting any man (the military was minimally integrated at that time) who fought in an unpopular and hateful war. We must be clear about this to be able to take PTSD out of the sphere of medical diagnoses and place it where it belongs:  a social, political, and moral position in a country ambivalent about its warriors.

Veterans to Stand Firm as Afghan War Enters Year 12

Dedicated and disciplined nonviolent activists, and in particular military veterans, are being openly invited to join members of Veterans For Peace in a peaceful vigil in New York City that will as likely as not result in their wrongful arrest and prosecution.

The time will be 6 p.m. on October 7, 2012, as the United States and NATO complete the eleventh year of the current occupation of Afghanistan and launch the twelfth.  The crowd at the Republican National Convention cheered for complete immediate withdrawal, but the nominee's plans don't include it.  The crowds at rallies for President Obama's reelection cheer for both the continuation of the war and its supposed status as "ending," even though the timetable for that "ending" is longer than most past wars, and a massive occupation is supposed to remain after the occupation "ends."  Veterans For Peace, an organization dedicated to the abolition of war, is hoping to inject a discordant note into this happy discourse -- something that the ongoing reports of deaths just don't seem to manage.

The place will be Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, 55 Water Street, New York City.  It was there that some of the same veterans gathering this October were arrested last May First.  The memorial is normally open around the clock, but on that day the New York Police Department decided to close it at 10 p.m. in order to evict the Occupy Movement's nonviolent general assembly.  Eight members of the Veterans Peace Team and two members of Occupy Faith were arrested for refusing to leave.  Since that day, a small metal sign has been posted at the park stating that it closes at 10 p.m.  This October 7th, the veterans have a permit for sound equipment lasting until 10 p.m., but they intend to remain overnight.

Vietnam vet Paul Appell says, "War veterans, loved ones of the fallen, and certainly those living in war zones do not have the option of closing down their memories at 10 p.m. There is a good reason why suicide is an attractive option for many. It is truly the only sure way of ending the memories. For a memorial to shut down at some convenient time for the city is an insult to all those who do not have the luxury of shutting down their war memories at a specific time. I know that many want us war vets to go out of sight and not bother them, except when we are needed for some parade. Some of us are not going away at 10 p.m. or any other time. If they do not like it, maybe they should have thought of that before they sent us to war.

Tarak Kauff, U.S. Army, 1959-1962, and one of the organizers of VFP's Veterans Peace Team, says, "We will be there standing together and getting arrested again if necessary for our right to remember the fallen, to oppose and 'abolish war as an instrument of national policy' and to affirm our right to do so in a public place of remembrance that has great meaning for all veterans."

The plan is not for a mass demonstration.  In fact, many are explicitly not invited.  Non-veterans are enthusiastically welcome, including associate members of Veterans For Peace and anyone else dedicated to ending violence in the world.  But "diversity of tactics" is unapologetically rejected.  Anyone inclined toward violence, provocation, or threats, including violence to inanimate objects, is kindly asked on this day, to respect the Memorial, the veterans, and the commitment to nonviolence.  This event will involve hundreds of activists who intend to peacefully vigil all night, and who will not respond to police violence with any violence of their own.

Speakers at the vigil will oppose a single additional day of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan.  Speakers will include Leah Bolger, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Mike Hastie, Chris Hedges, George Packard, Donna Schaper, Kevin Zeese, and Michael Zweig. Dr. Cornel West has also been invited.  At 9:30 p.m. participants will lay flowers for the fallen.

The purpose of this action, which will succeed whether the police interfere or not, is well expressed by several vets planning to take part.  Mike Ferner, Navy Corpsman 1969-1973, and past president of Veterans For Peace, says, "I'm coming to NYC October 7th because I need to do more for myself and the world than just get angry at the misery and suffering.  Being with my comrades again and standing up for peace uplifts my spirit."

Rev. George E. Packard, Retired, Bishop for the Armed Forces of the Episcopal Church, asks, "How can we, as Americans and compassionate human beings, tolerate even one more day creating a toxic battle environment in that southwest Asian country? We increase the lethality of our weaponry -- more drones, more firepower -- so we can protect our troops and not face the bad news of casualties at home. But it is a useless scheme and one that sacrifices the lives primarily of Afghan women and children, the real collateral damage.  Also, this destruction becomes latent in our culture as the postponed agony of PTSD in thousands of troops extends to their immediate families in the United States. Entire segments of our population are sentenced to living addicted or arrested lives because we weren't wise enough to figure out a more humane and effective foreign policy."

Ellen Barfield, Heavy Equipment Mechanic Sergeant, U.S. Army, 1977-1981, adds, "I will mourn the New York U.S. soldiers dead from Vietnam whose names are there on that wall, and the thousands of U.S. and other soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in these more recent wars, and the millions of civilians who were killed in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. But I will also express our right to visit memorials and speak out against wars at any time of the day or night. Sadly, war trauma does not sleep, so setting arbitrary curfews at war memorials is cruel and unjust. We will object with our bodies to the repression of mourning and dissent."

Erik Lobo, Navy veteran, remarks, "I will be at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because the oath I took -- both in the Navy and during 28 years in law enforcement -- to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, does not have an expiration date."

David Ross, Vietnam veteran, explains, "Once again I will be honored to stand with my sisters and brothers and our friends regardless of the inconvenience. I owe this and, looking back over 40 years of veteran organizing, the need to take a stand has never been greater."

William P. Homans, a.k.a. Watermelon Slim, Vietnam veteran, says, "I will be returning to the New York Vietnam Memorial to play Taps. . . .  I will also be there because the American right to dissent from 'business as usual' is at risk. I was in the anti-Vietnam War movement back in the early '70s when I returned from Vietnam, and I never considered the absolute right to speak and dissent to be threatened. . . . But mostly I will be there to mourn."

John Spitzberg of Ashville VFP, puts it this way: "I speak for those who have died and for those who are so infirm that they are unable to come to New York on October 7th. We are the living and able who rally for you so that your voices are heard and are not in vain. We come to say 'Enough of this travesty of mindless war, mindless mayhem and devastation.'"

Finally, Kauff, who is doing a lot to organize this event, says, "I have a fury inside me against war and those rich fat cats who perpetrate wars and militarism. Yes, I take it personally.  These wars are not about defending freedom or democracy. They have nothing to do with that -- just the opposite. The top-down leaders, the corporate warlords, the politicians, the Masters of War don't give a damn about freedom and democracy, about the lives and money going from the poor and middle class to fight and pay for these wars. They and their kids don't fight, die and come home wounded in body and soul. No, they make fortunes selling weapons while destroying the world. It pains and angers me deeply, and I want to stop it.  On October 7th, while grieving for, remembering and respecting the fallen, I will take a stand for my and others' right to peacefully and nonviolently affirm this whenever and wherever we want to, especially at this hallowed place, where memories and reminders of the futility of war never cease, not at 10 p.m., not at any time."

The website is StopTheseWars.org  There you can register to participate, whether you wish to stand with the vets after 10 p.m. or to serve in a supporting role.

Mr, President, Why Is My Son in Afghanistan?

Anna Berlinrut
Maplewood, New Jersey

September 17, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

He's been in Afghanistan for two weeks, but I feel as though I've aged 10 years. This is my only son's sixth deployment in harm's way.

I was supposed to get together with friends Saturday night. But when I read that two more NATO troops were killed in Helmund Province in a green on blue attack, I cancelled my plans. Then I found out they were Brits. This morning I heard that four American troops were killed by Afghans in uniform. Another mother's son is dead. Not mine.

I don't understand why our troops are there. First we were told it was to destroy al Qaeda. But Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has not been in Afghanistan in large numbers in many years. They are now scattered around the world in many countries.

Minnesota Has Model Action for Armistice Day

 
For almost 25 years, Veterans For Peace Chapter 27, in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, has celebrated November 11 as the original ARMISTICE DAY,  ringing bells 11 times at 11, 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.   Four years ago, our national Veterans for Peace  organization (www.veteransforpeace.org)  adopted a resolution encouraging all VFP Chapters to join in.  As always,  we encourage groups and individuals everywhere to join us in the ringing of bells on or around November 11, coupled with a personal or organizational commitment to peace.
 
This year, our peace commitment is partnered with Move to Amend at www.movetoamend.org, knowing that too much of the corporate money, influencing ourelectoral process and democracy, is heavily tied up in maintaining the infrastructure that wants us to be in perpetual warfare.
 
We are also partnered with the Minnesota Arms Spending Alternatives Project at www.mnasap.org,  calling for local and national legislators to shift excessive war spending (benefitting mainly the 1%), back to meeting the essential needs of the majority of the American people, and indeed, the world.
 
We are also partnered with the work of David Swanson, particularly through his latest book, WHEN THE WORLD OUTLAWED WAR, available at www.davidswanson.org.  This tells the story of Frank Kellogg, U.S. Secretary of State (from Minnesota), and Aristide Briand of France, working together to pass the 1928 Kellogg/Briand Pact, still binding, to make war illegal as a means of settling international differences. 
 
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HOLD YOUR OWN 11 BELLS CEREMONY, simply gather on November 11 (or near that time).  Read the statement below,ring bells 11 times at 11, and pause for a moment of silence, or a larger discussion, to formulate your own commitment to peace:
 
The Armistice of 1918 ended the terrible slaughter of World War I.  The U.S. alone had experienced the death of over 116,000 soldiers, plus many more who were physically and mentally disabled.  For one moment, at the 11th hour of the llth day on the 11th month, the world  agreed that World War I must be THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.  There was exuberant joy everywhere, and many churches rang their bells'some 11 times at 11 a.m. on November 11, when the Armistice was signed.  This went on for many years, and then slowly it was forgotten, not everywhere in the world, but certainly in the United States.  Now we commemorate this moment again, ringing bells 11 times, followed by a moment of silence, to remember the many soldiers and civilians killed and injured in warfare, and to make our own commitment to work for peace in our family, our community, our nation, and our world.
 
The You Tube link below is Jack Nelson Pallmeyer, founder of MnASAP,  speaking at last year's Chapter 27 vigil on November 11, when 11 of us slept/stood watch at  the Occupy site in downtown Minneapolis:

 
Chapter 27 contacts for Armistice Day, 11 Bells are --
     Larry Johnson,  larryjvfp@gmail.com or 612-747-3904
     Steve McKeown,  s.h.mckeown@hotmail.com or 612-869-2040

We Are Not Your Soldiers Starts A New Semester In The Schools

We Are Not Your Soldiers is gearing up for the fall semester to visit more high schools and colleges with veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Students will learn about the vets' experiences and why they should not enlist to fight in these ongoing wars. As the occupation of Afghanistan and "sanitized warfare" through kill lists and drone-bombings continues n o matter who will be president, we need to intervene in the lives of young people before they are signed away to the war machine. See wearenotyoursoldiers.org.

Find out more about the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour—watch this overview:

About Face, Bloody Hell

"About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War," is a book that should be stacked up on a table in every high school cafeteria, next to the vultures.  Sorry, I mean the war pushers. Sorry, I mean the good recruiters for the services of the profiteers of death. Sorry, you know the people I mean.  That is, unless useful books can make it into classrooms, which would be even better.

Most G.I. resistance in Vietnam, this book points out, came from those who had willingly signed up, not from draftees.  It is often those who believe the hype, who are trying to benefit the world by going to war, who find the will try to benefit the world when their blinders have been removed and they've seen what war is and what war is used for. 

"About Face" collects stories of recent resistance within the "volunteer" U.S. military.  These are young people with few job options who choose military "service" but discover it isn't a service.  They all have stories, many of them highlighting particular moments of conversion.  The reality is usually more complex and gradual, but the stories make the point.

Benji Lewis was a Marine in Iraq.  After two "tours" he gave some thought to things that had happened on his first tour, including this:

"They were shooting at this lady who was walking up to our posts waving her arms and asking for help in Arabic.  So I came up close and talked to her, and her face looked like death itself.  She had salt crusted all over her face.  It was obvious that she had been crying for quite a bit.  I kind of got the story that she had a family.  We were like, 'Go back home, go to your family.'  And then it came out that she was asking for help.  Three days ago, her entire family, her children, had been pretty much buried in the rubble of their house, and she was asking for help.  I asked my staff sergeant, 'Can we help her?'  He said to tell her to walk to the Red Cross aid station, which was a few miles away.  We couldn't leave our posts to help her, so we gave her a couple of bottles of water and wished her luck, you know.  It downed on me later on that me being the adjusting gunner for the mortar section, there was a good probability that I was the one that put those rounds on her house." 

Lewis refused orders for his Individual Ready Reserve recall and was discharged with no penalties.  While some resisters are punished, that does not seem to be the norm.  Often the resistance takes the form of going AWOL, and in some cases later turning oneself in.  Andre Shepherd sought refugee status in Germany:

"I made a decision during [a] two-week period that I would have to walk away from the service rather than either get myself killed or get somebody else killed in a war that was based on a pack of lies."

Some resisters don't believe they should request conscientious objector status, because that requires opposing all wars.  Having come to see through the lies and horror of one war, they still fantasize that some other war might be a good idea.  Those who do apply for conscientious objector status don't always receive it, but many do.  Hart Viges joined up in 2001, gung ho for the war on terra.  He was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector three years later.  "I am opposed to all wars," he says.  "When anybody picks up a tool to violently fight their brother or sister, I am opposed to it and do not support it.  I finally found my fight, my good fight.  It's the path that I am most comfortable with, more comfortable with myself than I have ever been in the rest of my life."  Telling the truth about war turns out to be great therapy for veterans and for our whole society.

But the stories should perhaps be taken in small doses.  Reading through these books without pause can make you understand why it is sometimes the counselors who hear all the soldiers' stories who end up losing their own minds.  "About Face" informs potential recruits and those already recruited that they have options, as well as informing aging peace activists where the young ones are: they're among the veterans.  Many other books and videos can add to the reality that needs to be communicated to a culture increasingly viewing war as a harmless sport.  Probably the most powerful collection of veterans' stories I've read is "Bloody Hell" by Dan Hallock.  This is essentially an uncensored view of what can become of you if you don't resist.

"Bloody Hell" shows us homeless men, men mad with nightmares, in prison, on death row, drunk, weeping, drugged, screaming, suicidal, and unable to prevent themselves from harming those they love.  A Vietnam veteran identified as Lee married and had a little girl with a Vietnamese woman while stationed in Vietnam during the war.  That wife and daughter, plus drug use, were what carried him through the hell he was a part of, the killing and the dying all around him.  But the Army denied the legitimacy of his marriage and made clear he would have to leave his wife and daughter behind or desert:

"Chi and I met one last time before I was supposed to leave.  We both cried our eyes out.  It was so bad, so much pain.  We trembled in each other's arms.  I left her and went back to my unit.  Then she sent me a note saying to meet her at a cliff above the South China Sea, a very beautiful place where we had gone a lot.  I went.  I was leaving tomorrow, so I had to see her today.  I took an officer's jeep and drove to the cliff.  There they were, waiting, crying.  We didn't talk, we just held each other, with Le in between us.  We cried so much.  I reached into my pocket and took out my pistol, put it to Chi's head and pulled the trigger.  There was a splatter -- then her blood gushed out -- all over me.  I held her tightly -- with Le screaming still between us.  I held her as long as I could -- then let her go -- over the cliff and into the sea they both fell.  I pounded the earth as hard as I could -- I screamed till I had no voice.  I had nothing left inside me when I drove back.  I should have died in Vietnam instead of living the thousands of deaths that I have.  Back at the hooch no one said a word to me.  I had walked in covered with blood and looked pretty bad -- no one said a word."

Lee recounts his life back in the United States as a veteran, with a new wife, and a new child.  You can imagine.  But you should read it.  Everyone should.  Especially everyone who's 17 and not the child of a billionaire.

Shooting Your Own Side

Veterans' stories often depict war differently from what the television told us.  Drones won't talk, of course, but human warriors tell us how early the 2003 invasion of Iraq began, how the Gulf of Tonkin incident didn't happen, and how countless families have been murdered rather than liberated.  "Bloody Hell" includes an account from a veteran named Doug of the 1989 U.S. attack on Panama.  I had known that the war plans had been in place months before an incident that was used to justify this "intervention" against long-time U.S.-backed dictator Manuel Noriega.  Some drunk Panamanian soldiers had beaten up a U.S. navy officer and threatened his wife.  But listen to this account from Doug:

"At Fort Bragg I was ordered to go on a mission against a group of people I had never dreamed of -- our own soldiers.  I was assembled along with Michael and four other men whom I never had met before.  We were among the few soldiers in the U.S. Army at the time with combat experience, with confirmed sniper kills; we were also the best of the best.  The thinking at the Pentagon was that to get the soldiers stationed in Panama to fight, they had to have very good reasons.  We're talking here about soldiers who have never experienced combat before.  And the best way to get them riled up was to attack them.  When Michael asked what the other four men in our mission were doing, we were told it was none of our business.  You see, American soldiers, especially infantry soldiers, stick together.  If one of them gets into a predicament in a bar -- I mean a fight -- the others don't walk away, they join in.  You don't fight one of them, you fight all of them.  Their training has taught them to be a team; they depend on each other, and it doesn't matter if it's a barroom brawl or not.  They depend on each other to get home.  So what better way to get them all worked up than to take pot shots at them?  We were told that we would be saving lives by doing this.  For weeks leading up to the invasion of Panama, Michael and I took pot shots at soldiers during the night." 

There's wrong.

And then there's Army wrong.

Navy Vet Responds to Navy Week P.R.

By Mike Ferner

All this summer, the U.S. Navy has put on a multi-million dollar dog and pony show called “Navy Week” in 15 cities across the country.  Six stops on the Great Lakes featured guided missile frigates, coastal patrol boats and the historic brig “Niagara,” the ship Oliver Hazard Perry transferred to during the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie (“Don’t Give Up the Ship”), when the “Lawrence” was blown out from under him.

At each stop, Navy officers and enlisted gave numerous press interviews, visited kids in hospitals, played musical concerts, helped build projects for the disabled and everywhere displayed banners with its motto, “America’s Navy: A Global Force for Good.”

Remembering Joshua Casteel

published by Jose Vasquez on 08/26/12
 
Iraq Veterans Against the War mourns the loss of our brother Joshua Casteel, 32, of Cedar Rapids, IA. Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), that was also present in his liver, spine and adrenals. He died in New York City where he was seeking experimental treatment, on August 25th at 3:30 PM accompanied by his mother Kristi, and sisters Rebekah and Naomi. Funeral services are being arranged.

For updates, visit Joshuacasteel.com

To make donations online:

Paypal

Or mail a check to:

Casteel Family

285 34th Street SE

Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

Joshua was trained as an Arabic translator and deployed with the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion to Abu Ghraib prison working as an interrogator from June 2004 to January 2005. Upon his return, Joshua applied for conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged in May 2005. His story is featured in the documentary film Soldiers of Conscience:

Joshua enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17, and later enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The rigidity and conformity of West Point was a turnoff so he left after just three months. The University of Iowa helped Casteel land on his feet, but his ROTC experience was similar to West Point.

With the military a lesser priority, Joshua enrolled at a university in Colorado for a year before returning to Iowa to earn his B.A. in Literature, Science, and Arts in 2002. He then earned a dual M.F.A. in Playwriting and Non-Fiction Writing, also from the University of Iowa in 2008. Joshua was working as a Graduate Arts Management Fellow at the University of Chicago before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Joshua served on IVAW’s Board of Directors in 2006. In addition, he stood with war resister Ricky Clousing at a press conference before Ricky turned himself in to the military. (Starting at 16:00 min)

In March 2008, Joshua led a panel on Racism and Dehumanization at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2010, he testified at the Truth Commission on Conscience and War.

Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration.

Joshua was invited to speak at over 50 venues worldwide, including the UK, Sweden, South Korea, as well as two national tours of Ireland. In 2006, Joshua appeared on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre for Human Rights Watch’s Cries From the Heart performing a monologue from his play Returns, which premiered at the University of Iowa in February 2007, and then at Columbia College in Chicago. Some of Joshua’s essays on war and Christian ethics have become part of course curricula at Wheaton College and Duke Divinity School. He was also featured in the documentary film Iraq for Sale.

Joshua was an accomplished author who published a book of writings home while deployed in his Letters from Abu Ghraib in 2008. He was also active with Warrior Writers.

He grew up a in a devoted evangelical Christian household. His father Everett “Rick” Casteel, also an Army veteran, founded Caleb Ministries, a counseling and mediation agency in Cedar Rapids. Sadly, Rick also succumbed to cancer in 2010 and Joshua was with his father during those difficult days.

Our deepest sympathies go out to his loving family. Joshua was an inspiration to many of us in the military and veterans community. His conviction and willingness to speak the truth was an example to us all. Joshua was truly a soldier of conscience. May he rest in peace.

Related links:

http://www.facebook.com/Joshua.casteel (Joshua's Facebook page)

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/Joshuacasteel/journal (Caring Bridge journal)

http://paxchristiusa.org/2012/08/25/obituary-Joshua-casteel-presente/ (Pax Christi obituary)

Other videos :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fM8jjqxtSpY

Should More of the Blood Be on the Train Tracks?

At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war.  What will you risk for peace?"

One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace.  It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government." 

Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act.  Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons.  The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour.  The train would stop.  The protesters would be removed from the tracks.  That was the standard practice, and that was the law.  But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.

It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence.  Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist.  Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train.  Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody.  That was the order given.  The other protesters moved out of the way in time.  Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not.  The train ran him over.  And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress. 

But something else happened too.  Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties.  People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come.  Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990.  Celebrities showed up and held rallies.  Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand.  And similar actions sprang up around the country.  Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero. 

But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero.  Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard.  "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic.  This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice.  Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands. 

"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries.  We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas.  Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives.  Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."

Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere.  It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help.  The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living.  If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace. 

 

Why Veterans For Peace Will Protest the RNC and DNC

 

Veterans For Peace
216 South Meramec Ave
St. Louis MO 63105
http://veteransforpeace.org
(314) 725-6005(office)
(314) 725-7103 (fax)

Veterans For Peace will have members protesting at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  VFP President Leah Bolger explained why:

"Social change, including the abolition of war, does not come from supporting one political party over another, but from changing the culture and influencing all major parties.  Women did not vote themselves the right to vote.  The civil rights movement did not trade in nonviolent action, education, and mobilization for electoral campaigns.  The labor movement was not built by what the labor movement spends its money on today.  And when our grandparents passed the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning war, they did so by placing the criminalization of war in the platforms of the four largest parties in the country.

"A peace movement that only opposes wars when the president belongs to one party is not a peace movement.  It's a partisan campaign that uses the pretended desire for peace as bait and activists as props.  What we need far more than campaigning is movement building.  We need to organize people to bring our popular demands to the government as a whole.  The government is no longer divided into the three traditional branches.  The two branches are the two major parties.  Congress members and even Supreme Court Justices are loyal to their parties.  We must demand that both parties adopt platforms for peace.  Our economy cannot withstand further war preparation any more than our consciences can bear the consequences.

More Costs of War: Suicides and Mental Trauma of Military Family Members

By Ann Wright

Seven months ago, in December, 2011, Brian Arredondo, age 24, hanged himself in a shed in his mother’s backyard. Brian was the brother of US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. For seven years Brian had had difficulties dealing with the death of his brother.

Brian, like so many military brothers, sisters, spouses, children and parents, fell into the depths of depression following the death of his brother.

These difficulties in coping with his brother’s death played out in Brian in his depression, dropping out of school, using alcohol and drugs, being in and out of drug rehab facilities, in continuing incidents with police for disorderly conduct and finally in suicide.

Veterans For Peace Appeals to Non-Alignment Movement Leaders: Stop War, Stop Sanctions on Iran

Peaceful Action Urged on Iran Crisis

August 19, 2012

With the Non-Aligned Movement meeting this week in Tehran, Veterans For Peace is urging the organization of 120 nations not formally allied with any major power bloc to take steps to deter the Israeli-American threats of war against Iran over its nuclear enrichment program.

APPEAL TO NON-ALIGNED LEADERS MEETING IN TEHRAN

FROM: Veterans For Peace

This is an urgent appeal from Veterans For Peace. We are an organization of U.S. veterans formed in 1985 to try to bring an end to war. VFP is a non-profit organization recognized by the UN as an NGO.

Lies, Damn Lies, and War Lies

Prepared remarks for Veterans For Peace Convention 2012.
Prepared to follow remarks by Nicolas "Sandy" Davies
Convention theme: "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean"
Remarks theme: "U.S. Military Expansion since the End of the Cold War"
Accompanying powerpoint:  
http://warisacrime.org/downloads/misleading2.pptx

At my house I can see a hill out the window, and a house on it.  And if I go to that house, I can see another house on the next hill.  The first house is Thomas Jefferson's, and the second James Monroe's.  Jefferson's record is quite mixed, not just as the slave owner for equality and freedom, but also as a developer of the disastrous two-party system and of an even more disastrous U.S. navy and a U.S. military with a centuries' old tradition now of attacking Libya.  Jefferson's version of that attack also introduced suicide-bombing to that region of the globe, as a U.S. ship full of sailors intentionally blew itself up in port.

But it's hard to put that record of blood-drenched hypocrisy up against the record of the doctrine that bears the name of President Monroe.  In fact, there is already something terrifyingly dishonest about calling a barbaric shout of dominance a doctrine, as seems to happen with each president now.  Declaring a bunch of nations independent of another bunch of nations can sound innocent only to those making the declaration, and only if they've already begun to convince themselves that the whole world is their territory, a notion made explicit by Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.  Latin America was not to be attacked by bad attackers, only by good attackers, meaning either the U.S. military or private U.S. entrepreneurial imperialists seeking nations to rule.

Roosevelt looked beyond Latin America, of course, as the United States, heartbroken at having reached the Pacific and run out of Native American nations to destroy, had moved into the Pacific as well as the Caribbean.  The nation of Japan had put an end to war, with others or itself, in 1614, and remained peaceful for two centuries, developing the sort of culture that flourishes in peace -- an action that has occurred too many times in human history to take seriously the desperate moans of those who like to pretend that war is in our biology.  (And if it were, wouldn't we suffer PTSD from its absence, not its presence?)  In 1872, U.S. General Charles LeGendre had been trying unsuccessfully to get China to attack and occupy Taiwan.  He made the same pitch to the Japanese and found them far more interested.  LeGendre told the Japanese that they needed a Monroe Doctrine for their area of the world, meaning Japanese dominance at the expense of any competitors.  LeGendre pushed the Japanese to attack Taiwan and Okinawa and Korea, actions that shocked the people of Asia.  

U.S. policy became promotion of U.S. imperialism as far as it could reach, and Japanese imperialism beyond that.  Theodore Roosevelt pushed the Monroe Doctrine idea on the Japanese, and by 1905 was openly advocating a Japanese Monroe Doctrine in speeches.  But he expected the Japanese to both adopt the worldview of conquering civilizers, and respect limits -- including by respecting U.S. possessions such as the Philippines, and Hawaii.  Hawaii had been grabbed by the United States as a function of the original Monroe Doctrine, the argument being that the Monroe Doctrine required grabbing Hawaii before the British did -- regardless of whether Hawaii was actually part of the Americas.  President McKinley explained the need to occupy the Philippines as the only means to keep Spain, Germany, or France from taking over a barbaric people who obviously could not be left to their own devices.  But Roosevelt managed, in the end, to simultaneously give the Japanese Korea and turn the Japanese against the United States.  Japanese imperialism became a rival to the United States, up until World War II when another Roosevelt successfully provoked a Japanese attack on U.S. pacific territories in order to persuade the U.S. public to enter another war in Europe.

"Agent Orange Is Killing My Father"

Change.org
Agent Orange is killing my father, a Vietnam veteran. Tell the V.A. to cover the transplant doctors say he needs now to save his life.

When my father was serving in Vietnam, his platoon was sprayed with Agent Orange -- a toxic pesticide that can cause cancer, Parkinson's disease, and in my dad's case, liver failure.

Doctors told us that, without a transplant, my dad would die.  And Veterans Affairs (VA) told us it would cover it but just needed to send the official paperwork.

That was two years ago, and although doctors are ready to operate, the VA hasn't greenlighted the transplant and my dad still hasn't received a new liver.

My dad's health is getting worse every day, but every time we call the VA, they stall. I started a petition on Change.org calling on the VA to make sure my dad receives a liver transplant immediately.

Click here to sign my petition now.

I know that I could lose my dad before the VA does the right thing. But I started this campaign -- even enlisting lawyers and a member of Congress -- because I know that the lives of other vets like my dad are also hanging in the balance because of the its inaction. Even if I can't save my dad, I want to show that the system is broken and needs to change: this is not how we're supposed to treat the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country, or their families.

I know that public outrage can have an impact. Two years ago, the VA sped up granting disability benefits to a veteran in Texas after a local paper ran a profile on him. If thousands of people sign my petition, I know it will get the VA's attention.

Please click here to sign my petition, and ask the VA to approve the surgery my father -- a Vietnam War veteran exposed to Agent Orange -- needs immediately to save his life.

Thank you,

Tracy Mathews

Veterans For Peace National Convention in Miami to Feature Alice Walker, Phil Donahue

Veterans For Peace
216 South Meramec Ave
St. Louis MO 63105
http://veteransforpeace.org
(314) 725-6005(office)
(314) 725-7103 (fax)
For Immediate Release - August 1, 2012

Veterans For Peace will hold its 2012 National Convention in Miami, Fla., August 8-11. The event, which includes speeches, films, workshops, and musical entertainment, is open to the public and will feature prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, film producer Phil Donahue, activist Roy Bourgeois, and many other speakers.  The text of a public service announcement follows the list of speakers below.

The theme of this 27th annual convention will be "Liberating the Americas: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean."

"No region in the world these days," said Veterans For Peace President Leah Bolger, "is as much on the forward march toward liberation. We are in the third century of the struggle to abolish the Monroe Doctrine. Advances (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay) exist side-by-side with setbacks engineered by U.S. imperialism (Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, etc.). We in the United States have a moral responsibility to change our government's view of Latin American and Caribbean nations as being our 'backyard' and sources of cheap labor and natural resources. It is time for our government to stop bullying the region and show respect and recognition for rights to national sovereignty."

The full schedule and registration information are available at http://vfpnationalconvention.org

Alice Walker
Pulitzer prize winning novelist and poet, teacher, and activist.  Ms Walker will be a keynote speaker at the banquet Saturday, August 11th.



 



Phil Donahue
Media personality, writer, and film producer.
Mr. Donahue will present the film “Body of War,” which he produced, Wednesday, August 8th.

 

 

 

 




Father Roy Bourgeois
Activist and priest, founder of the human rights organization “School of the Americas Watch.”  Father Bourgeois will be a keynote speaker at the banquet Saturday, August 11th.




Marleine Bastien
Haitian-American activist and Congressional candidate, Executive Director of “Haitian Women of America.”  Ms Bastien will be a speaker at the opening plenary Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



Ann Wright
Retired Army colonel and former diplomat, author and activist.  Ms Wright will co-facilitate a workshop about drones with Medea Benjamin, and will moderate a panel on Military Sexual Trauma.

 




Medea Benjamin
Activist and author, founder of anti-war organization “Code Pink,” and fair trade advocacy group “Global Exchange.”  Ms Benjamin will co-facilitate a workshop about drones with Ann Wright and will speak at the Friday evening event.

 

 


Leah Bolger
Retired Navy commander and activist, President of Veterans For Peace.   Ms Bolger will speak at the opening plenary on Thursday, August 9th.


 

 


David Swanson
Author, activist, and radio host.  Mr. Swanson will co-facilitate a workshop entitled, Misleading America:  U. S. Military Expansion Since the End of the Cold War.


 

 



Mike Reid
Executive Director of Veterans For Peace.  Mr. Reid will host the Saturday Banquet.


 



Paula Caplan
PH.D., Fellow, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School;Associate, DuBois Institute, Harvard University.  Ms. Caplan will facilitate the plenary workshop on War Trauma.


 

 



Camilo Mejia
First veteran from Iraq to publicly challenge the morality of the war and refuse to fight.  Author of The Road from Ar Ramadi.   Mr. Mejia will emcee the opening plenary on Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



Charlie Clements
Carr Center's Executive Director, widely respected human rights activist and public health physician.  Dr.   Clements will host an Academy Award winning documentary about his experiences as a guerrilla doctor in El Salvador in the 1980's, Witness to War.

 



Bruce Gagnon
Executive Director of Global Network, deeply involved in JeJu Island Action.  Mr. Gagnon will co-facilitate the workshop entitled,  Obama’s Pivot Toward Asia-Pacific:  Dangerous, Destabilizing and Costly.


 



Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Producer of film, American Autumn:  An Occudoc.  Mr. Trainor will host a showing of the film on Thursday, August 9th.

 

 



John Lindsay Poland
Research and advocacy director of Fellowship of Reconciliation and founder of Colombia's Peace Team.  Mr. Poland will host the workshop entitled, The Pentagon in Latin America and the Caribbean.




 

PSA text:

Veterans For Peace invites you to attend its 27th annual national convention August 8 - 11 at the Miami Marriott - Biscayne Bay (1633 North Bayshore Drive, Miami). The convention features Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker and Father Roy Bourgeois (initiator of the School of the Americas Watch at Fort Benning, GA) at the culminating Saturday night banquet with steel pan entertainment provided by pannist David DeSousa. Phil Donahue hosts Body of War, his film about Iraq veteran Tomas Young on opening night Wednesday. Marleine Bastien, Leah Bolger, DeAnne Graham and Camilo Mejia present at the opening plenary Thursday morning, and Medea Benjamin, Max Rameau, Dr. Jill Stein, and Rep. Frederica Wilson speak at the "Veterans Meet the Community" program Friday evening at Trinity Episcopal Catherdral, next door to the Marriott.

Movies (free and open to the public) are featured each day at lunch and in the evening. All activities except Friday night's event will be in the 3rd floor ballroom of the Marriott. Banquet tickets are $60, 4 for $200, or a table of 10 for $450. Exciting and informative workshops and plenaries take place all day Thursday and Friday (War Trauma/PTSD, Agent Orange, No War on Iran, Close Down the School of the Americas, Active-Duty GI Resistance, etc). A one-day pass is $25. For more information (including a schedule of events, workshops, and plenaries) visit www.vfpnationalconvention.org, or contact Patrick McCann at 240-271-2246 or unityact2@aol.com.

#

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.

##

Talk Nation Radio: Leah Bolger on the Upcoming National Convention of Veterans For Peace

Leah Bolger is the current, and the first female, president of Veterans For Peace, which is holding a national convention in Miami, Fla., August 8-12, 2012.  The event is open to the public and speakers include Alice Walker, Phil Donahue, Roy Bourgeois, Marleine Bastien, and many others.  Bolger explains the work of Veterans For Peace and its dedication to eliminating war. See http://veteransforpeace.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Veterans For Peace/Veterans Peace Team Calls on Police to Cease Aggression Against Peaceful Protesters

In June, U.N. envoys called on the U.S. government to protect the rights of peaceful protesters. However, the rights to free speech and freedom of assembly to demand redress of grievances by the government continue to be met instead with police violence and efforts to intimidate and deter protesters.

Veterans For Peace Supports U.N. Committee in Questioning U.S. Recruitment, Killing of Children

Leah Bolger, President of Veterans For Peace, applauded a United Nations Committee this week for raising concerns about the recruitment of children into the U.S. military, the U.S. killing of children in Afghanistan, the U.S. detention and torture of children labeled "combatants," and the provision of weapons by the United States to other nations employing child soldiers.

While the United States is one of only three countries, along with Somalia and South Sudan, not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has ratified and made part of its law the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which requires special protections for any military recruits under the age of 18.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked for additional information related to the Second Periodic Report of the United States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, (OPAC). The United States has until November 16, 2012, to respond.

The Committee cites concerns regarding the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs operating in U.S. schools, the recruiting provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery(ASVAB), a test administered to 660,000 children in 14,000 U.S. high schools each year. 

The Protocol calls for the recruitment of minors to be done with the "informed consent of the child's parents or legal guardians." Two programs operate in U.S. high schools that clearly violate this section of the treaty. One is the administration of ASVAB.  The other is the No Child Left Behind Act's requirement that schools provide recruiters with children's names and contact information.  The law lacks any mechanism to enforce a requirement that schools offer parents a way to opt out.

"Our military," said Bolger, "spends billions of our dollars every year on advertising and recruitment.  We have rallies that combine the military with Cub Scouts, complete with giant inflatable soldiers entertaining the kids.  We send impressive uniformed officers into kindergartens.  We send recruiters into schools where the vast majority of the students are minors.  Our military sponsors NASCAR race cars, flies jets over football games, and invests in Hollywood movies and video games that make killing look like the coolest and most extreme sporting event.  Students are tested in many of our public schools, and the results fed to recruiters without the knowledge of the students or their parents.  We invest so much in recruitment of every soldier, that we could have spent the money paying them to rebuild our country."

"That we are doing this to children," Bolger added, "is beyond outrageous.  We object to cigarette companies targeting the young and vulnerable.  Should we not object as strongly to the war machine doing the same -- particularly when we are legally committed to protecting our children from recruitment?"

The U.N. Committee also requests information on Afghanistan and Iraq, writing, "In view of the large number of children who have died in the on going armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq . . . please inform the Committee of measures taken by [the United States] to ensure respect for the fundamental principles of proportionality and distinction between military objects and civilians and to establish accountability for violations of international humanitarian law.  Please also provide precise information on the results of any investigation conducted into the killing of children reported by UNAMA [the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] over the reporting period."

The committee requests that the United States provide information on children detained since 2008 and currently held in U.S. prisons in Afghanistan, as well as on particular children who have been imprisoned at Guantanamo, including Omar Kadr and Mohammed Jawad.

"That the United Nations continues to raise these concerns is heartening," said Bolger.  "But the international community can hardly keep up with the changes in U.S. policies and attitudes.  President Obama has targeted and killed children, including U.S. citizens with drone strikes, as part of a program already objected to by another branch of the United Nations.  Have we no shame?  As we contemplate new wars justified in the name of human rights, have we, at long last, no remaining shame?"

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.

##

Forgotten Casualties of the Vietnam War

 

By John Grant


Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.
- Apocalypse Now

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night: The Tragic Death of Brian Arredondo

By Linda Pershing, with Lara Bell, WarIsACrime.org

Brian Arredondo never really recovered from his brother’s death in the Iraq War. When they were kids, Brian adored his older brother Alexander and tagged along with him whenever he could. They were often seen playing together in parks and schoolyards in communities surrounding Boston, Massachusetts, and Bangor, Maine, where they grew up. As teens the two boys were perfect targets for military recruiters: first-generation Americans on their father’s side (he emigrated from Costa Rica), working-class youth (Alex attended a technical high school where much of the curriculum focuses on job training), living with their mother after their parents divorced when they were young. Promises of career training, male camaraderie and “becoming a man,” appeals to patriotism, a $10,000 signing bonus, and funding for college enticed Alex Arredondo to join the marines, just a month before September 11, 2011.

A Movie About What Really Happens to the Troops When Congress Is Done "Supporting" Them

Here's a movie of the sort that Hollywood should be required to make every time it makes a glorification of war.  Here's a movie of the sort that the military ought to be required to pay for every time it dumps another million into recruiting fresh blood.  This is what happens when our government is done using a man to kill.

The Vietnam War and the Struggle For Truth

 

By John Grant


Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.

           -Bernard Brodie, 1973
 

This Memorial Day Let’s Start Caring for Our Nation’s Veterans: No More Ducking the Real Cost of US Wars!

 

By Dave Lindorff


Whether he ever said it or not, I’m going to borrow from a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and alter it a bit to say: “American politicians must love war veterans -- they keep making so many more of them.”


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