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July 10, 2011 - This story was first published Oct. 17, 2010. It was updated on June 21, 2011.
One weekend a year, nearly a thousand military veterans assemble in a camp in San Diego. What brings them is what they have in common: they're all homeless. The vets gather for something called "Stand Down," started in 1988 by a soldier turned psychologist named Jon Nachison.
Then, it was an emergency response to homelessness among Vietnam vets but, all these years later, Nachison is welcoming the generation from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Frankly that's very easy to answer, the country refuses to demand it's own sacrifice the greater majority cheer on but don't serve in or have direct connection to, especially the political party claiming their strength on "National Security" and it's the total opposite of what's being argued as to this debt ceiling and the growing deficit itself, remember these two present conflicts were kept off the books and fought on borrowed financing until put back on the books and our spending by the present administration. All those costs include the no bid contracts of the growing private armies as well as the numerous other private contractors serving a bottom line and not the country.
My senses are soaked still with last weekend’s red, white, and blue after having attended a party at the home of a lovely couple intro’d to me recently by a friend. Their fireworks display, colors bursting in the night sky, was as impressive as any I’ve seen produced and directed by local government via taxpayer dollars. I’m sure the hosts’ guest list covered the political spectrum. I’m also sure that my politics are the most radical of anyone who watched the bombs bursting in air. I sat there, thinking about bombs bursting in air, exploding the lives of people in the growing number of countries where we’ve exported U.S. imperialism.
More sensory overload is the story that’s captured the attention of Americans: Casey Anthony’s murder trial. I didn’t follow, but when I opened Google News, it usually was the lead. After Anthony’s acquittal, I scanned the article titles and saw: “See all 6,083 sources.”
The Afghanistan War. War itself is inherently immoral, but especially so when the fight is not between two state-sponsored militaries, but rather between a military superpower and a third-world country with 70% of its populace living in rural areas without electricity or running water and whose citizens do not even know why they are being attacked. It has been illegal from the outset in that it was waged against a sovereign country which was no threat to us, ignoring international law, and without adequate Congressional approval. And by the DoD’s own admission, it has not been effective. In fact, many experts believe that it has been counterproductive; that by killing thousands of people and destroying property and infrastructure we are creating enemies. We are propping up a government which is as corrupt as a crime syndicate, and labeling anyone who opposes us an “insurgent,” and therefore justifying their deaths.
July 1, 2011 - A U.S. military veteran of Iraq and Guantánamo on Friday spurned a government offer of pre-trial probation and instead faced the prospect of the Fourth of July in a Miami lockup while awaiting a federal passport fraud trial later this month.
Navy Reserves Petty Officer 2nd Class Elisha Leo Dawkins, 26, has been confined to the downtown federal detention center since soon after he returned from the Guantánamo detention center earlier this year.
There he served as a Navy photographer, chronicling the lives of war-on-terror captives, apparently unaware that the U.S. immigration service had targeted him for deportation to his mother’s native Bahamas when he was 8 years old.
By John Grant
Israel and its international operatives are working overtime to stop the 10-ship Gaza flotilla from leaving Athens. The Audacity Of Hope, with 40 Americans on board, tried to leave the harbor Friday only to be chased down and threatened by an armed Greek Coast Guard boat and forced to return to a dock. Trumped-up charges may be brought against the captain of the boat. Greece is now prohibiting all boats from leaving. Another boat had a propeller shaft cut and a third was equally disabled by some kind of sabotage. Others have suddenly been plagued with questions about their insurance or their seaworthiness. Israel has openly threatened to bar news organizations with reporters onboard a flotilla boat from entering Israel for ten years. The US government has made vague threats that it might charge US citizens in the flotilla with something.
By John Grant
Two veteran friends of mine will be on one of the ships planning to leave Athens next week to challenge the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. The Israeli government, after attacking a previous flotilla in May 2010 and killing nine people, has said it will use violence if necessary to prevent the ships from entering what any reasonable person by now should agree are Palestinian waters.
This confrontation should not be necessary. The Israeli military occupation over Palestinian life should have been eased and sovereign rights established for Palestinians long ago. The crisis of Palestinian status has reached the level of a disaster, and like the creation of Israel itself it is more than a Jewish problem: It is a world problem.
By Dave Lindorff
Let me state from the outset: I have no problem with soldiers who inflate their war stories, any more than I am bothered by anybody who likes to spice up the tale of a youthful exploit.
It’s different though, when exaggerations are exploited for personal gain, like what Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal did with campaigned on the outrageous claim that he was a Vietnam War combat veteran when he really wasn’t.
My grandfather, William Lindorff, earned a Silver Star in World War I, where he was an ambulance driver on the front lines in France. My father, a Marine in World War II, says that his dad never once talked about that medal. Now, I’d say that’s a real hero.
by Walter Brasch
Christopher Kenneth Frison is seven months old.
He's too young to understand Father's Day.
And he's certainly far too young to be able to get an allowance or a job to buy a card and a nice gift.
He isn't too young to be able to hug his father.
But he won't ever be able to do that again. Not today. Not next year. Not ever.
His father, 1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison, a parachutist and infantry officer, was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan, May 10. He was 26 years old.
His widow, Mikki, told the Lancaster New Era that she and Demetrius first met in Middle School in Philadelphia, attended different high schools, and then went to Millersville University in 2003. Both graduated with degrees in psychology. They married in March 2009, a month before he joined the Army. Christopher was born November 17, 2010. At that time, Frison, who had trained at Fort Benning, Ga., was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky.
And yes I do realize there are 'Gold Star Children' who have lost Mothers, especially in these two long conflicts, not minimizing the fact that many of the women soldiers killed were possibly Mothers as they all were Daughters, Sisters or Nieces and Aunts, the greater numbers killed still in war are male.
CBS sought out a message with meaning for Fathers Day, that aired June 17 2011, and I totally agree with the one they found which among many messages it should send ties our long war of choice, Vietnam where this Country said it would remember the lessons of, to both current wars of choice, Afghanistan and Iraq, lessons forgotten five minutes after Vietnam and so many DeJa-Vu's of then repeated with many enhanced and coming on faster.
And now we're over a decade of oh so many lessons not learned and in not one but two theaters of with a third front being bombed and invaded right next door to one of the two and joined with NATO in bombing another that the previous administration had brought the leader of back into the fold after years of calling him a terrorists supporter and supporting terrorists criminal acts!
As we were coming out of Vietnam, especially in the end of, the Country with almost one voice said they'd "never forget the lessons of!" that lasted oh probably five minutes or, even without cable then, a couple of news cycles as we've seen during this whole past decade. The War Hawk Neo-Cons thought they had the lessons, not the real lessons of wars of choice, needed to occupy and control an invaded country, well a decade plus later DeJa-Vu all over again.
From a VVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, mailing we get the announcement of a new radio show by and for veterans, and everyone else, that everyone out of the listening area can stream online live or listen to in the archives. This is the send out received:
Three former Marines--Vince Emanuele, Jason Lewis and Mark Strudas, each Iraq war veterans--have now established a weekly two-hour radio show called "Veterans Unplugged" on radio station WIMS, AM-1420 in Michigan City, Indiana, on the south shore of Lake Michigan. The show can be heard live on Tuesday nights between 6-8 pm, Central time. The web site is WIMS Radio.
This is a show that can be heard live-streamed over the internet, plus they archive each show in the station's "audio vault," which can be listened to at your leisure--and is organized by date.
Notice how the congressional tepublicans, and especially their cult like followers, never mention the Wars after rubber stamping everything but Veterans Care and even Military Care related to while talking about the growing budget problems they created when they controlled it all. Even now gaining back the House and a few more in the Senate, to continue obstruction, they have sought to cut area's of the Veterans Admin budget!
June 3, 2011 - Even as the wars wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan the financial cost of taking care of veterans continues to mount and could reach a trillion dollars in coming decades
By Lila Garrett
I long to wake up on Memorial Day to find our country at peace with the world. Instead of mourning the young men and women who think they died fighting to protect their country, let us mourn the truth. Let us mourn the fact that most of the time our beautiful youth died to keep our permanent war economy alive. They died for what Eisenhower referred to as the military-industrial complex. They died for the power and profit of strangers.
Had they thought of the expression “die for your country” as a public relations con job would they have risked their lives in such massive numbers? Of course not. But profiteers & presidents are so good at selling war -- and most of us are so bad at knowing when we’re being manipulated, it hurts us to recognize that practically since its inception our country has been in a state of perpetual war. This is a cause, not for celebration but for shame.
Today is Revisionist History Day, what others call Memorial Day. Americans are supposed to remember the country's war dead while being thankful that they protected our freedom and served our country. However, reading revisionist history (see a sampling below) or alternative news sites (start with Antiwar.com and don't forget to listen to Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton) teaches that the fallen were doing no such thing. Rather they were and are today serving cynical politicians and the "private" component of the military-industrial complex in the service of the American Empire.
In that spirit, I again quote a passage from the great antiwar movie The Americanization of Emily. You'll find a video of the scene below. This AP photo is a perfect illustration of what "Charlie Madison" is talking about.
I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it's always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows' weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices....
My brother died at Anzio – an everyday soldier’s death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud. . . . [N]ow my other brother can’t wait to reach enlistment age. That’ll be in September. May be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She’s under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave. [Emphasis added.]
Enjoy the day. I'll spend some of it reading revisionist history -- Ussama Makdisi's Faith Misplaced: U.S.-Arab Relations, 1820-2001, and watching Emily.
Here's an all-too-incomplete list of books in no particular order:
- Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism, by Jeff Riggenbach
- War Is a Lie, by David Swanson
- War Is a Racket, by Smedley D. Butler
- Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, by Paul Fussell
- Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War, by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
- The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, by William Appleman Williams
- The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Antimilitarist Tradition, by Arthur Ekirch
- The Politics of War: The Story of Two Wars which Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic, 1890-1920, by Walter Karp
- The Costs of War, edited by John Denson
- Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, by Stephen Kinzer
- All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, by Stephen Kinzer
- Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, by Chalmers Johnson
- The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson
- War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges
- A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin
- The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, by David Hirst
- Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations, 1820-2001, by Ussama Makdisi
The annual display will remain on Eighth Ave. until dusk on Monday
Philip Morris, a veteran of the Army National Guard, looks at the tombstones of his friend, DeForest Talbert along the Memorial Mile along 8th Avenue on Saturday, May 28, 2011 in Gainesville, Fla. Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
May 28, 2011 - More than 6,000 tombstones with names of those who have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq now line the sides of Northwest Eighth Avenue — and they'll remain in place until dusk on Monday.
by Walter Brasch
Unless you were in a coma the past few years, you probably know who Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton are.
You heard about them on radio, saw them on television.
You read about them in newspapers and magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, and every social medium known to mankind.
Because of extensive media coverage, you also know who dozens of singers and professional athletes are.
Here are two names you probably never heard of. Sergeant First Class Clifford E. Beattie and Private First Class Ramon Mora Jr.
They didn't get into drug and alcohol scandals. They didn't become pop singers or make their careers from hitting baseballs or throwing footballs. They were soldiers.
Both died together last week from roadside bombs near Baghdad.
By John Grant
John Fleming is a 58-year-old African American born and raised in Philadelphia who served in the Army from 1969 to 1972 maintaining nuclear weapons in silos in Germany.
It was 10:45 AM on Friday outside Courtroom 1006 in Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center. Fleming had been “caught with an illegal substance” and he was there for Veterans Court. Instead of taking his chances in the regular court system in Philadelphia, he had volunteered to participate in Philadelphia’s Veterans Court.
He was pacing in the hall. He had been told to be there at 10 AM for court that would not begin until 11 AM. Earlier there had been some kind of misunderstanding and he had to come back. He was impatient.
More than 1,200 soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan completed surveys between July and August of last year. The US military released the results Thursday.
By Anna Mulrine, The Christian Science Monitor
Morale among American troops underwent a “significant decline” between 2005 and 2009, according to a study by the US military released Thursday.
Soldiers also experienced “significantly higher” instances of “acute stress,” including depression or anxiety, during the same time period.
Nearly half of combat troops surveyed say that they had killed an enemy fighter.
The findings come after more than 1,200 soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan completed surveys between July and August of last year. Now, the study is being released as America’s longest war – in Afghanistan – is about to enter its second decade.
ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — A session presented May 18 explored the inhalational exposures and respiratory outcomes of military deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Presenters reviewed current knowledge on complex inhalational exposures, epidemiologic studies, animal toxicology studies, and clinical lung findings in U.S. military men and women who are returning from Southwest Asia.
By John Grant
I know when night has gone
That a new world's born at dawn.
I'll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.
-- Sons Of The Pioneers
We live in frustrating times for anyone politically opposed to the relentless militarization and financialization of virtually every facet of life in America.
The idealism of the Sixties and Seventies was overwhelmed first by Reaganism, then by the tsunami of post-911 fear and, finally, by the momentum of two, now three, on-going foreign wars. We live in an enforced condition of permanent war and unfettered piracy.
By BEN HARTMAN, 07/05/2011
Mordechai Vanunu tells 'Post' no country has offered him asylum but that if he is allowed to leave "I will get on first flight anywhere out of here."
Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu on Saturday demanded that Israel rescind his citizenship in keeping with a new law that strips Israelis convicted of treason of their citizenship.
In a letter written to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and released to the media on Saturday Vanunu, a Beersheba native, says "I have no interest in Israeli citizenship, I don't want to go on living here." Rest of the article at the Jerusalem Post
May 5TH 2011
MK Mr. Eli Yishai
Minister of Interior
The State of Israel
Re: Revoking my Israeli Citizenship
I am Mordechai Vanunu that was kidnapped from Rome on September 30, 1986 by The Israeli Secret Services.
I was tried by The Jerusalem District Court and convicted of Aggravated Espionage, High Treason and Assisting the Enemy and I was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. This followed an interview I gave to The London Sunday Times regarding the secret production of nuclear weapons materials in Israel.
I fulfilled the democratic principal of the right of the public to know.
I have served 18 years in Ashkelon Prison, mostly in solitary confinement.
I was released on 21 April 2004 with severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli Government.
Seven years past and the restrictions had been renewed again and again relying on The Emergency Laws from 1945.
Since my release I have lived 6 years in East Jerusalem and since September 2010 I live in Tel Aviv.
Below are just a few related articles and links.
On May 1st, An Infuriating Anniversary, the day of the Mission Accomplished' Speech and Banner as to Iraq eight years prior, the War of Choice, that turned the Afghan Operation into same, nothing to do with 9/11 al Qaeda nor bin Laden, the Afghan 'Mission is Finally Accomplished', bin Laden dead, after creating possibly thousands of bin Ladens seeking blowback!
Tens of thousands dead, millions turned into refugee's, lives and countries destroyed, and still no 'Sacrifice' as to the results for the Veterans of nor Accountability for the lies of those who ordered the destructive decade plus, Still Ongoing!!
Does one need to serve, no, but that one had better choose his or her words very carefully, especially those 'his', when spinning what they think is wrong with a Country they avoided like a plague to do that service in their younger years!! Oh ya and Especially if one likes to brag about their vast wealth, some probably left to them other gained by investing in defense industry corporations, and Doesn't Demand they 'Sacrifice' for the Veterans, and Families of, sent into the wars of choice which reap those huge defense profits!!
How the presidential aspirant avoided fighting for his country