Posts Tagged ‘Veterans for Peace’
The North Korean nuclear test explosion on Feb. 12 is a serious threat to international security and reemphasizes the need for the U.S. to lead in working with other nuclear-armed states to decrease the risk posed by the existence of nuclear weapons.
As long as the U.S. and other nuclear powers attempt to maintain their monopoly on these weapons, other countries will seek to build them too. We must work cooperatively with other nations to pursue meaningful reductions of nuclear arsenals, a ban on nuclear weapons testing, and other common-sense approaches to mitigating the risk posed by the existence of these deadly weapons.
National security and military leaders in both political parties support the case for the elimination of nuclear weapons. They know, as we all do, that one of the biggest risks to U.S. security is the continued proliferation of these weapons around the world. The humanitarian consequences of getting this issue wrong are daunting. We must act in our time to protect our common future.
We must also refrain from letting the actions of North Korea become a distraction from working toward a nuclear weapons free world.
The AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile was developed as an anti-tank weapon back in the days when the primary threat against the United States was thought to be the Soviet Union and their T-62 and T-72 tanks. When I entered the Army in 1976, it was already in development and its versatility provided staying power long after the Berlin Wall was torn down and the wars for oil in the Middle East had faded into the background. During the Global War on Terrorism, Hellfire missiles have been mounted on Predator and Reaper UCAVs, or combat drones, and used in targeted attacks on terrorists that have included U.S. citizens, as well as members of al-Qaeda. The Hellfire missile and the U.S. policy on use of drones in the Global War on Terrorism has resulted in the deaths of non-combatants, and that is a problem.
Some deny that non-combatants have been killed in Afghanistan. The United States Central Command issued a 2,100 page report, a five page summary of which can be found here. There is no question that non-combatants have been killed by drones. U.S. policy that resulted in deaths that included children have been properly called into question and deserve scrutiny.
On Feb. 4, a document describing the Department of Justice legal case for using drones was leaked to NBC news. A group of Democratic and Republican Senators has asked President Obama for transparency about the targeting of U.S. citizens. The senate request is related to the hearings on John Brennan’s appointment as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The irony for right wingers is that a Brennan appointment may ease drones out of CIA. In any case, it is about time people started asking questions about our government’s use of drones to target terrorists.
Mistakes happen during military operations—any soldier can tell you that. What needs to be addressed is what the hell are we doing with our Hellfire missiles, and how can we justify the deaths of non-combatants in pursuit of the war on terrorism? That Chuck Grassley and Al Franken can both agree to ask questions about the drone policy is a positive development, providing hope that the issues of drone warfare policy and targeting of terrorists will get some transparency.
It’s time for fiscal accountability in all parts of government, but particularly with military spending.
In FY 2000 the Pentagon budget was $295 billion, the national debt was $5.62 trillion, and unemployment was 4 percent. In FY 2012, the Pentagon budget was $645 billion, and a deficit of $1.1 trillion contributed to a year-ending national debt of $16 trillion. Unemployment was 7.8 percent.
Set aside for a moment the fiscal cliff that’s abuzz in the media– the disastrous financial effects of the Bush tax cuts, the potential impact of the sequester, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Look closely at our military spending. It has more than doubled in 12 years and has contributed to our national debt and to increased unemployment. Just as important, the money has been spent wastefully, with $102 billion in waste identified in just FY 2011. And, according to the Pentagon itself, in the last decade the Pentagon awarded $1.1 trillion in contracts to contractors who have engaged in fraud.
This is not a foreign policy problem, it is an accountability problem. As we approach the so-called fiscal cliff, we should insist that the military budget take its full share of cuts. Military spending is 57 percent of all discretionary spending. Let it absorb at least 57 percent of the total spending cuts. We should insist that our senators vote to require that the Pentagon pass an audit, for the first time in history, to hold our military accountable for spending.
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 161
Linda S. Fisher
Mary L. Martin
Thomas M. Kelly
CORALVILLE, Iowa– An art exhibit titled “Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan” will be on display at the Coralville Public Library from Sept. 1 through 30. The exhibit is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Iowa Veterans for Peace, PEACE Iowa, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Iowa United Nations Association, West Branch Friends Meeting, Iowa City Friends Meeting, First Mennonite Church, West Branch Religious Council, Scattergood Friends School & Farm, Social Justice Coordinating Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City, and Iowa NEA Peace & Justice Caucus.
Exhibit will be available for viewing during normal library hours and the public is invited to a reception on Sept. 9. Click here for the reception information.
M-Th: 10:00am – 6:00pm
F: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Sat: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
For more information check out the Windows and Mirrors website, or call Ed at (319) 621-6766 or Ann at (319) 321-9657.
(Editor’s note: Following is a chapter from the new book “Days” by Don Place. Don wrote this book partly to get his message about Vietnam out, a voice he felt was not being adequately expressed. His stories from 1967 and 1968 are harrowing. After reading “Days,” a reasonable person would be inclined to put away the happy talk about veterans and our wars to work on veterans issues, particularly on treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. No parade or recognition ceremony is adequate compensation for what veterans like Don did under orders from our government).
Suicide by Don Place
Sometimes in this country of Vietnam, the weight of our duty becomes more than we can stand. The rain is now relentless, it’s been raining for a week, its monsoon season, the rainy season, no matter what you call it, it is hell on earth. We have to conduct ourselves as if nothing is wrong, the patrols, search and destroy missions, ambushes, all go on unchanged. However human beings aren’t meant to live day in and day out soaked to the bone, in constant heat, under extreme stress. Our unit, the 101st Airborne Division is the best, but even with all our training we are still human beings. I am currently in a position on patrol somewhere between Cu Chi and the Cambodian border, the absolute most dangerous part of Vietnam.
We have stopped for a break, my legs are on fire. The medic told me it is jungle rot and ring worm. I have a fever and have a bad case of diarrhea. I think I am going to die, but I will not be on any list to go back to camp or be considered in any jeopardy, I am still moving and able to fight, like a boxer knocked senseless but still on his feet. I won’t say anything to anyone, this is my duty, I signed up for this, I can’t have them think I’m a coward.
I think the next fire fight I’m going to get shot, I can’t take this pain, the rain beating on me is driving me nuts, the same sound over and over, this ankle high mud, the leech on my face, but I know God doesn’t like cowards either. Catholics have to suck it up and die the right way, we don’t believe in suicide.
Diplomacy with Iran, ‘we can’t afford another war,’ a key focus
DES MOINES – (Catholic Peace Ministry news services, courtesy of JJ Weiss) A delegation that included Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines consulted with Senator Tom Harkin Sunday in an attempt to avert war with Iran and express concerns about the future of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
The eight organizations included the Catholic Peace Ministry and Iowans for Diplomacy with Iran who lobbied for direct talks with Iran.
Other members of the delegation included Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee, Chet Guinn of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace, Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Yashar Vasef of the United Nations Association of Iowa, Sherry Hutchison of the Quaker Valley Friends Meeting, Maggie Rawland of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Tony Johnson.
Robert Williams of Indianola, instrumental setting up the meeting, was unable to attend because of his health; Harkin had kind words for Williams and his persistent presence for peace. Senator Harkin opened the proceedings by showing support for the work done by the groups sitting at the table.
Mayor Frank Cownie said we have needs, for example “68 bridges that need to be repaired in Des Moines alone. “We have crumbling infrastructure, a local flood situation, and no funds yet we’re not cutting dollars off the Pentagon budget, Cownie said. “We continue to speak of more war…..It’s a fear-based mentality driving this we have to shake off.”
Harkin expressed reservations taking a strong stand on Iran as opposed to his “restoring the middle class” initiatives and the assembled argued our disfunction was a result of our state of perpetual war if you read history. Harkin did acknowledge “sure” when asked if we have a permanent war economy and agreed our military bases overseas were excessive.
The opening statement was made by Kathleen McQuillen of AFSC.
“We want you to start speaking publicly for diplomacy with Iran. We also do not want you to sign Senate Resolution 380 which expresses the will of some Senators to go to war with Iran,” said McQuillen.
Chet Guinn asked Harkin to work with us setting up a public forum to discuss U.S. foreign and domestic policy because his voice was respected locally.
AFSC also brought the concerns of its ongoing work to build peace for Israelis and Palestinians by expressing alarm that the President increased military aid to Israel better spent in our cities here.
Shifting again to Iran, the Catholic Peace Ministry reiterated its position of direct diplomacy as Obama called for when running for president. Dr. David Drake of Physicians for Social Responsibility expressed the environmental concerns of another war and also that in his work that when parties are in danger of the most egregious conflict is exactly the time to sit down and talk.”
“That is one thing that I have learned in my profession,” Dr. Drake said.
Ed Flaherty of Veterans for Peace credited Harkin with speaking against the Vietnam War and in the 1980s about human rights abuses we supported in Central America but gave an impassioned appeal to speak now, that his and other voices in the Senate have been largely silent.
“We feel a sense of urgency, Flaherty said. “A war can break out even if it’s not intended and once it starts it’s hard to stop a war.” Just because talks will take place between multiple parties and Iran next May the rhetoric hasn’t lessened.
Flaherty late addressed Harkin’s statement that he does not have a bully pulpit on foreign policy.
“We think that you do, Senator, and President Obama needs support from Democrats in the Senate as he is being pushed on this issue on several fronts, most of them negative, especially the Prime Minister of Israel.”
Harkin said he refused to attend the speech by Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress and would be interested in traveling to Iran but his own government disallowed congressional travel at this time.
McQuillen went further on U.S. policy in Southwest Asia by asking Harkin to stop taking campaign contributions from organizations that support Israel’s occupation,” McQuillen said, citing the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Harkin stated organizations can support him for a variety of reasons so McQuillen said she would provide more information.
McQuillen noted Harkin’s work on human rights so the same could be afforded to the Palestinians, the only people said to have “the right to self-determination” meaning having a legal right to a country without having one.
In the discussion Harkin used the word “occupation” — as does both the governments of Israel and the U.S. — though it is not uncommon for national media, including the New York Times and National Public Radio, to use the phrase “disputed territories.”
Yashar Vasef spoke as an Iranian-American who was concerned about the support of many people in positions of power in the United States to both support the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, and attempt to take the organization of the list of terrorist organizations.
Vasef asked Harkin to bring this support to the attention of more people on the Hill as it certainly appears to be outside of U.S. law to support such an organization.
Journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, and both the New York Times and BBC have reported that both the previous administration and members of the current Congress have supported the activities of MEK, including the assassination of Iranian scientists.
“This covert war is already going on and few people know about the MEK so that is one of the reasons why I am here today though I do not support the Iranian regime’s efforts to aquire nuclear power.” Vasef said.
The meeting ended with a discussion of a public forum in Iowa and the delegation will remain together until this is accomplished so the larger citizenry can engage the present and future of this civilization.
For more information:
email@example.com or find ‘Catholic Peace Ministry’ on Facebook
CPM, 4211 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312 (telephone 515 255 8114)
Final note: During the discussion the voices of WILPF are also noted: Sherry Hutchison stated her concern the term ‘war on terror’ was in perpetuity and Maggie Rawland that corporations had bought Congress so we as citizens are disenfranchised, especially after Citizens United
(WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM) firstname.lastname@example.org