September 17, 2009

New hope for War Resisters in Canada

I am on the road for a few weeks. Postings will be sporatic at best. When I have access and information I will post it.

Here is  Laura's post from We Move To Canada. It is a hopeful developement for the War Resisters who choose to go to Canada:

exciting war resister news! private member's bill being introduced today

This morning in the House of Commons, Gerard Kennedy, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, will introduce a private member's bill, to be seconded by Bill Siksay, MP for Burnaby-Douglas. The text reads as follows:

BILL C-[to come]
An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (war resisters)

SUMMARY
This enactment allows foreign nationals who, based on a sincere moral, political or religious objection, left the armed forces of another country to avoid participating in an armed conflict not sanctioned by the United Nations or refused compulsory military service for that reason, and who are in Canada, to remain in this country through humanitarian and compassionate consideration.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

1. Section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1): 

(1.1) A foreign national in Canada shall be deemed to be in a situation in which humanitarian and compassionate considerations justify the granting of permanent resident status to that foreign national — and his or her immediate family — or shall be exempted by the Minister from any legal obligation applicable to that foreign national — or his or her immediate family — that would prevent them from being allowed to remain in Canada, if that foreign national

(a) left the armed forces of his or her former country of habitual residence or refused obligatory military service in that country because of a moral, political or religious objection to avoid participating in an armed conflict not sanctioned by the United Nations; or

(b) is subject to stop-loss orders to report for active duty; or

(c) upon return to the former country of his or her habitual residence, could be compelled to return to service.

[encore, en fran├žais]

I'll blog more about this private member's bill, and our campaign to support it, later today, after I see that it did indeed go forward. You should be able to watch the House of Commons proceedings by going to CPAC and clicking on "watch now".

* * * *

Media release from War Resisters Support Campaign:
Private Member’s bill to be introduced in support of U.S. Iraq War resisters

OTTAWA—On Thursday, September 17, Toronto Member of Parliament Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale—High Park), is expected introduce a private Member’s bill in the House of Commons that, if passed, would allow U.S. Iraq War resisters to stay in Canada. The war resisters are U.S. military personnel who have refused to participate in the illegal and immoral Iraq War.

The bill, which will be seconded by Vancouver Member of Parliament Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas), will make binding on the government the direction that Parliament has already given twice (on June 3, 2008 and March 30, 2009) by way of motions that resulted from studies of the issue by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM).

“It’s time that the current government of Canada reflected Canadians’ desire to allow war resisters to stay and contribute to our country,” said Gerard Kennedy, MP. “This law will simply compel them to do what they haven’t had the good graces or the good sense to do on their own – and recognise the special circumstances that strike a chord with the majority of Canadians.”

“Canada’s Parliament has already voted twice to allow these principled men and women to stay,” said Bill Siksay, MP. “Canadians have never supported the Iraq War. This bill reflects the significant support for Iraq War resisters that can be found in every part of our country.”

The introduction of this private Member’s bill comes at a time when several U.S. Iraq War resisters are threatened with deportation. Two others, Robin Long and Cliff Cornell who both lived in British Columbia, have already been deported to the U.S. where they were court-martialed and jailed as prisoners of conscience for their opposition to the Iraq War. The felony-equivalent convictions given to Iraq War resisters who have been sent back to the U.S. by the Canadian government will result in life-long punishment such as the loss of the right to vote in many states and severely limited chances for employment.

“We are hopeful that this bill will succeed in achieving what should have been done a long time ago,” said Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. “Iraq War resisters have done the right thing, and Canadians have welcomed them with open arms. The Conservative government is out of step with the majority sentiment in this country, intent on imposing its own minority view. Canadians want to have their voices heard through this very important bill.”

A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in June 2008 found widespread approval (64 per cent) for Parliament’s initial vote directing the minority Harper government to immediately stop deporting Iraq War resisters and create a program to facilitate the resisters’ requests for permanent resident status.



September 12, 2009

Triple Canopy Employee Killed in Iraq of Apparent Electrocution, Family Searches for Truth

-the following post and video is from Democracy Now.
The private military contractor Triple Canopy is at the center of a new controversy in Iraq. A twenty-five-year-old employee named Adam Hermanson died ten days ago after apparently being electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters at Triple Canopy’s base inside the Green Zone in Baghdad. Hermanson’s family is alleging Triple Canopy misled them about how he died, perhaps to cover up faulty electrical wiring at the firm’s facilities. In a Democracy Now! exclusive broadcast, we speak with Adam Hermanson’s mother Patricia, his seventeen-year-old brother Jesse, and with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, who broke the story in The Nation magazine.

September 11, 2009

Private Bethany Smith Fled to Canada to Avoid Soldiers' Death Threats. Will They Let Her Stay?

Private Bethany Smith photo from Queerty

- thanks to We Move To Canada for the following post:

War Resister fleeing homophobic persecution appeals to Federal Court

A lesbian who deserted the U.S. army argued before the Federal Court in Ottawa on Tuesday that she should be allowed to remain in Canada as a refugee.

Pte. Bethany Smith, also known as Skyler James, is seeking a judicial review of a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board to reject a refugee claim. Smith said she feared for her life due to the treatment she received in the army as a result of her sexual orientation.

"I had to endure not only verbal and physical harassment, but death threats and harassment letters on my door every day," Smith told reporters Tuesday outside the court. Following the hearing, she said she was staying positive and hoping for the best.

Smith, who now lives in Ottawa, said she was treated as "less than human" by other soldiers at the base in Fort Campbell, Ky., after they saw her holding hands with another woman at a local mall and found out she was a lesbian. One soldier who worked with her on the base's fleet of vehicles would pick her up, shake her and throw her to the ground on a daily basis, she told CBC News.

"There were sergeants standing around laughing with him," she added.

She also received anonymous hate mail at her door every night, she said, including one letter that warned: "We will suffocate you in your sleep."

Smith later learned that a gay soldier had been beaten to death in his bed with a baseball bat at the Fort Campbell base in 1999.

Discharge denied

Fearing for her life, she asked her first sergeant for a discharge, which is usually granted automatically to soldiers who admit to homosexuality.

"He told me straight up, 'We'll figure out the paperwork when we get back from deployment," she recalled. At the time, Smith was scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan.

Her lawyer, Jamie Liew, suggested the military went against its own policies because it needed more soldiers for its overseas deployments.

After being denied a discharge, Smith, who was 19 years old at the time, drove to the border at Cornwall, Ont., with another soldier. The War Resister Support Campaign, a group that has helped other U.S. deserters, helped her settle in Ottawa.

"I have a new home here and a new family … friends and a job," she said. "Everything I have here is set up as if I was born here, and being ripped out of this environment would change everything."

If Smith returns to the U.S., Liew believes that in addition to threats to her life, Smith would face military charges of desertion, absence without leave and indecency.

"Because it is a crime to be engaging in homosexual activity under the military criminal provision," Liew said.

She alleged that the U.S. military judicial system is "not up to par" with Canadian and international human rights standards.

"Why should we allow people to be sent back to be put through a process that is not fair?"

Smith said military cases are decided by tribunal members drawn from the accused's own unit — "The same people who are causing you problems."

Other U.S. deserters have failed in their appeals to Canadian courts, and some are serving prison terms after being deported. However, Liew said that shouldn't have any bearing on Smith's case.

"Bethany is coming with an extremely different story. She's coming because of the way her life was threatened because of her sexual orientation."

Most other deserters who have sought refugee status in Canada said they fled to avoid being deployed to the war in Iraq, as they opposed the war.

If the Federal Court rules in Smith's favour, she will be able to make her case again before a different IRB member, said Liew. She said the previous refugee board decision erred by not dealing with whether Smith would be persecuted if she returns to the U.S.

September 10, 2009

Write War Resisters directly - Support our Prisoners of Conscience

Consolidated and up-to-date list of easy action items


We have a lot of information about GI resistance and how to help objectors spread out over hundreds of pages on couragetoresist.org. However, sometimes folks just want to know what needs to be done and how to do it, including:

-Write directly to jailed resisters

-Donate to resister defense funds

-Petitions and letter writing campaigns


Write war resisters directly

Cliff Cornell
Bldg 1041 PSC Box #20140
Camp Lejeune NC 28542-0140

Cliff Cornell in currently jailed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Expected release: March 2010
Cliff traveled to Canada in 2005 to resist Iraq deployment. “I don’t want to be killing innocent people,” he explained at the time. He was deported from Canada in February 2009 and was convicted of desertion at Ft. Steward, Georgia in May.
More information about Cliff.




Anthony Michael Anderson
PO Box 305
Fort Sill OK 73503-5305

Tony Anderson is currently jailed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Expected release: November 2009
Tony was sentenced to 14 months in the stockade for resisting Iraq deployment. “I know in my heart that it is wrong to willfully hurt or kill another human being. I simply cannot do it. I don’t regret following my conscience,” he said at his trial.
More information about Tony.




David Travis Bishop
Box 339536
Fort Lewis, WA 98433

Travis is currently jailed at Fort Lewis WA.

Note that Travis is still in need of donations to cover his defense costs. Please see info below.
Expected release: July 2010

Travis, with the Army's 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, was sentenced to 12 months in the stockade for resisting deployment to Afghanistan. Travis explained that he had serious doubts about his views on war for a long time, but was unaware of his right to file for a conscience objector discharge until just before he was scheduled to deploy. Amnesty International has declared him to be a “prisoner of conscience”. More information about Travis. Also:
freetravisbishop.wordpress.com





Haskell Leo Church
Box 339536
Fort Lewis, WA 98433

Leo Church is currently jailed at Fort Lewis WA.
He is not a exactly a "war resister", but is deserving of support.
Expected release: May 2010
Leo is currently serving eight months for going AWOL in order to help his three young children who became homeless with their mother while he had been at basic and advanced initial training.
More information about Leo. Also: freeleochurch.wordpress.com




Dustin Stevens
82nd Replacement Detachment Bldg.
C-8750 Lae Street Stop-A
Fort Bragg NC 28310

Dustin Stevens is not currently in jail, but on restriction.
Correspondence limitations below do not yet apply.
He has been charged with desertion and is facing possible court martial. A trial date has yet been scheduled.


  • About directly corresponding with and supporting jailed military objectors

  • Know that your correspondence will be read and reviewed by the military; however, general political content is not usually a basis for censorship.
  • Do not send stamps, photos, magazines, newspapers, etc. Photocopied articles and photocopied photos, when accompanied by a personal letter, are usually OK.
  • You may send a money order (payable to the jailed resister). This money will be deposited into their “safe keeping” fund administered by the stockade. From this fund, they may purchase postage stamps (to write you back) and phone cards (to call family and friends).
  • You may send a book; however, you must order books fromamazon.com (or bn.com) and have them shipped directly to the resister. Consider asking the jailed resister if they have any specific title requests, or general categories of interest (mystery, political history, sci-fi, etc.) prior to ordering.

STOP THE DEPORTATION OF WAR RESISTER RODNEY WATSON!

PICKET MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION JASON KENNEY 
Friday September 11, 2009
• Buses leave from the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto at 4:30 pm
• Buses will return at approximately 9:00 pm
The minority Conservative government is deporting US war resister Rodney Watson back to the US, where he faces punishment for refusing to redeploy to Iraq.

Rodney, who currently lives in Vancouver, served a year in Iraq and when his contract was unilaterally extended, he refused a second deployment to Iraq. He has been ordered to leave Canada on September 11, 2009. "I realized the war had nothing to do with 9/11 or helping Iraqis or stopping terrorists," said Watson. "It's all about guarding oil for the U.S."

Canada's Parliament, supported by a majority of Canadians, has voted twice demanding that the Harper government stop the deportations and allow US Iraq war resisters to stay. Stephen Harper admitted in 2008 that the Iraq war was "absolutely an error" but his government has deported two war resisters to jail in the US for refusing to participate in the war.

On September 11th, Rodney’s supporters in the Toronto area will protest at a Conservative party fundraiser where Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney will be speaking. We will demand that Kenney respect the democratic will of Parliament, and immediately stop the deportation of Rodney Watson and the other war resisters.

Read last month's letter seven Members of Parliament from British Columbia have sent to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, urging him to "immediately intervene to cease all deportation action against Mr. Watson and to allow him to remain in Canada.

see more: click here

Lisa Blank: Napalm then, White Phosphorus now. So inhumane.


Girl in Iconic Vietnam War Photo Brings Message of Hope

By Alan Mozes, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) --
It's a photo that many credit with helping to end the Vietnam War: A 9-year-old girl, naked and in obvious pain, runs through a street after suffering napalm burns over much of her body.
What the iconic photo -- snapped in 1972 by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut -- doesn't show is the girl's struggle to survive and thrive in the aftermath of that day.

Now 46 years old, Kim Phuc Phan Thai (Kim Phuc to most) spoke recently at a conference of burn survivors and burn care specialists in New York City on the physical and psychological struggle that she went through over the ensuing decades.

"Sixty-five percent of my body got burned," she said in an interview with HealthDay. The third-degree burns left her face untouched but sheared off every layer of skin on her back and left arm, leaving a legacy of permanent scars and recurring pain.

"I should be dead," Phuc said. "I got burned so deep I had to do skin grafts -- mostly from under my leg -- from the 35 percent of my skin that was OK. And from the beginning to the end, including physical therapy, I was in the burn unit in Saigon for about 14 months. And I had 17 operations. But I was spared," she added.

"So now I think, 'I cannot change something that happened to me already. But I can change the meaning."

Phuc has come far and is now a public speaker, peace activist, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, child welfare advocate, married mother of two, and inspiration to burn injury survivors worldwide. She lives in Toronto, her home since seeking political asylum in Canada in the early 1990s.

Phuc's message of hope resonated with many of those at the conference, held earlier this month by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the nation's largest non-profit support and advocacy group for burn survivors. The conference was co-sponsored by the Hearst Burn Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.

Besides listening in on Phuc's speech, burn survivors could attend workshops designed to empower with practical information, such as make-up tips to enhance the appearance of affected skin, or hear other survivors' stories of personal triumph over pain.

For example, a number of firefighters and ex-military personnel spoke of their experiences with burn injuries during the course of their work. So did CBS journalist Kimberly Dozier, who was injured while reporting in the Middle East. They also heard from burn survivor and Iraq War veteran J.R. Martinez, currently an actor on the soap opera All My Children.

For her part, Phuc said the events that changed her young life are as vivid today as they were on June 8, 1972, when bombs rained down on her hometown of Trang Bang, north of Saigon.
"They saw that the temple will be next, and they told us to run," said Phuc, whose family had been hiding in the village temple grounds.

"I was in the middle of the group," remembered Phuc, "my brother, my sister, my cousin in front of me, my aunt, my uncles behind. And I stopped."

There was the sound of bombs from South Vietnamese aircraft falling, "and after I saw the fire everywhere around me," Phuc said. "I was so scared. And all my clothes just burned off by the fire. And I saw all my burns. And people screaming: 'Nong qua! Nong qua!' 'Too hot! Too hot!'"
Two of Phuc's cousins died from injuries sustained in the bombing, but Kim was helped by photographer Ut, who helped her get medical attention at a South Vietnamese hospital. She then received more than a year of treatment at the American-funded Barsky Hospital in Saigon.

Phuc beat the odds and survived her ordeal. However, Hearst Burn Center director Dr. Roger Yurt stressed that burn care has improved dramatically in the years since. Patients with serious burns like Phuc now experience a "much more efficient, swifter, and improved treatment process," he said.

"Back in Kim Phuc's time, one usually would add the age of the patient to the amount of body surface that was burned in order to predict mortality," he explained. Using that formula, a 50-year-old patient with burns covering 50 percent of her body faced a nearly 100 percent chance of death.

"Today, however, that same patient would have a 50 percent survival rate -- a doubling of his or her chances," Yurt said. That's due to better anesthetics, better nutrition and respiratory care, as well as more careful monitoring of cardiac function, he said.

The advent of artificial skin products, not available in the 1970s, has also revolutionized skin-graft surgery when used in conjunction with actual skin tissue, Yurt added.

There are also many more burn-care facilities in the United States today. According to the Phoenix Burn Society, over 140 specialized facilities now care for the more than 500,000 Americans who seek medical treatment for burn injuries each year.

Yurt called that a "major advance, because back in the 1970s we would have to send burn patients from New York City, for example, all the way to the army burn center in San Antonio to get treatment. Now we can treat them quickly, right here."

But the single most important change in burn care has been a paradigm shift in the way doctors approach treatment, he said.

"In years past we were concerned about operating too early because patients were so unstable," Yurt said. "We now realize that early and aggressive intervention is actually critical," he explained.

"This has meant that skin grafting has become much more successful, while the occurrence of wound infections has dropped off dramatically," the expert said. "The long-range outcome is much, much better."

Still, Phuc said the legacy of her own wounds linger.

"I still have pain," she said. "Because my nerves are really damaged. They don't work well. So pain in one area spreads everywhere I got burned."

Healthy eating, exercise and an upbeat attitude help her focus away from the pain when it does come, however. And Phuc said that even the pain has its reward.

"The pain I consider as my protection. It humbles me, and helps me to never take my life for granted," she said. "And to share my story."

-thanks to Lisa Blank

Protesters cited for roadblock at Massey offices

September 9, 2009 By The Associated Press Vicki Smith

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Four people protesting Massey Energy's mountaintop removal mining practices were arrested Wednesday after linking their arms together with plastic pipe and duct tape, briefly blocking a private road to a coal company office in southern West Virginia.

The Boone County sheriff's department charged the four men, who range in age from 22 to 80, with trespassing, destruction of property, failure to obey lawful command, conspiracy and resisting arrest. They were being held late Wednesday on $5,000 bail each.

The protesters are affiliated with Climate Ground Zero, an environmental group that has been staging acts of civil disobedience against Richmond, Va.-based Massey all year from its base in Rock Creek.

Last week, protesters staged a six-day tree-sitting action that temporary halted blasting operations at the Edwight mine near Pettry Bottom in Raleigh County. Four people were arrested.

The protest Wednesday was on a private road near Julian, off U.S. 119.

Charged were: Roland Micklem, 80, of Savannah, N.Y.; Joseph Hamsher, 22, of Charleston; James McGuinness, 53, who has been living in Rock Creek since last winter; and Fred Williamson, 74, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Climate Ground Zero spokesman Charles Suggs said all four men were committed to protesting without causing property damage. After linking themselves, they used plastic pipes and chain to lock themselves to a guardrail and light post, he said. Authorities used bolt cutters to disconnect them.

A fifth person detained and charged after the protest was described by Climate Ground Zero as an independent videojournalist who goes by the name FluxRostrum. A criminal complaint identified the videographer as Gianni Lapis, 46, of Pensacola, Fla., and charged him with trespassing, conspiracy and failure to obey a lawful command. His bail was set at $3,000.

In a statement, Micklem said the mountains should not be destroyed to make a few people rich, so he is organizing a 25-mile senior citizens' march for Oct. 5.
"This should not be solely a young person's campaign," he said. "Now that they have provided the example and inspiration, we seniors need to make a statement with our own actions and share the risks that are part of this ongoing effort to stop the obliteration of West Virginia's mountains."
Massey did not immediately comment on the latest protest, which comes just two days after a pro-coal rally that Massey helped sponsor.

The Labor Day Friends of America rally on a former strip mine site near Holden in Logan County was designed to oppose climate-change legislation that could affect the coal industry. It drew about 70,000 people, many lured by a free concert featuring Hank Williams Jr. and others.

Massey, which operates mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, said the event cost about $1 million.

-thanks to Mary Adams

September 9, 2009

Israeli soldiers fire on Al Jazeera correspondent



Israeli soldiers have fired tear gas on Palestinians protesting against the Israeli separation barrier which cuts through their West Bank village.

The soldiers also fired tear gas at Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent who was covering the event live from near the village of Bilin.
-thanks to Susan Galloway

Obama . . .

. . . Look out the Window, Ben is there.
talk with him.

September 8, 2009

Rev. Graylan Hafler greets the Veterans for Peace



-thanks to Lisa Blank
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part; and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers and all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop; and you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
Mario Savio, Sproul Hall, Berkeley, 1964
-thanks to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Private contractors in Afghanistan

Jeremy Scahill:

What we have right now is the most radical privatization agenda in the history of the US national security apparatus. Right now, in Afghanistan, you have about 58,000 to 62,000 US troops in uniform, American flag on the side of their shoulder. You have 78,000 private contractors.


-thanks to Rebel Reports

Radio Interview: Ben Carnes, Choctaw, is fasting at the White House this week for Leonard Peltier.

Listen to Brenda Norrell's interview with Ben Carnes.
Ben Carnes is fasting in Lafayette Park across from the White House in solidarity with freedom for Leonard Peltier. Peltier is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians who has been held as a political prisoner of the Government of the United States of America for over 33 years.
Carnes, Choctaw from Oklahoma, speaks on Censored Blog Radio, while fasting for justice for Leonard Peltier outside the White House. Wanbli also joins the show live by phone with more details on Peltier's case and the appeal to Obama for freedom for Peltier. Carnes and Wanbli speak of FBI misconduct, assassination attempts on Peltier, the beating of Peltier in a Pennsylvania prison in 2008 and more than 500 years of genocide for Indian people. Calling for clemency, Wanbli said Obama promised Peltier's release during his campaign. On today's show, the music is by Keith Secola, with poet Cleo Apache, recorded live at the Havasupai Gathering to Halt Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon by Earthcycles.
Wanbli said, "Carnes is standing there in fast and in prayer for 7 days in the hopes of gaining attention of the President of the United States of America to the plight of Leonard. During his fast he will not take food or water and he will remain in a prayerful attitude for the next 7 days. Those who make stands to fight injustice such as Ben is doing should have all of our respect and prayers. There are many who make smoke and kick up dust but few who actually have the will to make a stand such as this."
Wanbli said Obama could see Carnes if he would look out the window. Carnes began his fast Saturday and will continue to fast through Sept. 12. Amnesty International has already called for the immediate release of Peltier.
CW Gayle, Choctaw, thanked Carnes. "Halito! Ben. Many years ago my friend Rocque Duenas was standing vigil for Leonard in the very place you are. Rocque was a tribal fisherman in Washington, this was 1978. You carry the torch," Gayle said in a message.
-thanks to Brenda Norrell at Censored News Blog Radio

Shut down the Army Experience Center

Second major protest planned for the Army Experience Center!

Activists affiliated with several dozen groups on the east coast will again descend on the Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia at 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 12, 2009.

A protest on May 2, 2009 at the Army’s interactive video recruiting center was attended by 250 people and saw 7 arrests, but failed to generate mainstream print media coverage.

This time, demonstrators are being encouraged to form small affinity groups and enter the mall through one of several locations. Protesters are encouraged to express their outrage in creative, nonviolent ways.

At 2:00 pm people will come out of the woodwork and converge on the Army Experience Center. Organizers feel it may not be wise for participants to congregate into large groups before the demonstration or wear clothing that would suggest participation in the protest. Is it possible for hundreds to arrive at the mall without being detected? It probably doesn’t matter because police don’t have the right to bar entrance to the mall based on a person’s appearance.

Privately owned spaces like shopping malls are not generally considered to be public property like streets, sidewalks and public parks. It’s a problem for folks not particularly enthralled with the status quo, with so many of today’s public spaces masquerading under private ownership.

In case military and civilian officials decide to close the Army Experience Center or the entire red section of the mall, demonstrators are encouraged to congregate at the intersection of Knight’s Road and Mechanicsville Road, directly in front of the red entrance.

Franklin Mills Mall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its street address is 1455 Franklin Mills Circle Philadelphia, PA. Getting to Franklin Mills Mall is simple. Take Exit 35 off of Rt. 95 and merge onto Woodhaven Rd, (PA 63 West). Go a mile and take a right on Millbrook Rd which leads into Franklin Mills Mall.
Getting to Franklin Mills Mall by public transportation:
Frankford Transportation Center is the Philadelphia hub for train and bus transportation. From the Frankford Transportation Center, take the Route 67 Bus Northbound to Franklin Mills Mall. On Saturdays, buses depart at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm. It’s a 43 minute ride. Afternoon service is available from the mall to the Frankford Transportation Center at 3:47, 4:47, and 5:47. Transportation by car is also being organized.
For more information, contact Elaine Brower - mermaid423@aol.com or
Pat Elder - patrickelder@verizon.net

-thanks to CodePink

September 7, 2009

If "I say nothing, I have failed. If I do nothing, I am guilty."

Art as Resistance
If I say nothing, I have failed.
If I do nothing, I am guilty.
If I live by these ideals of democracy I can see that war is failure.
A war of opportunity rather than necessity is unjust.
War is the antithesis of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom.
Let us hear the stories of these young men and women.
Let us see through the eyes of the Iraqis
and the minds of the soldiers
what has occurred under the auspices of freedom and democracy.
Let us then ask ourselves if conflict has brought peace.
Let us be challenged by the horrific atrocities that no one should
have to bear, and then ask ourselves if they were worth it.

Combat paper. (Artwork: Jon Turner)

Sunday 06 September 2009
by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Perspective


"Throughout history, culture and art have always been the celebration of freedom under oppression." - Author unknown

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have tough truths to tell, and it has been well demonstrated that the establishment media does not want to broadcast these. Given the lack of an outlet for anti-war voices in the corporate media, many contemporary veterans and active-duty soldiers have embraced the arts as a tool for resistance, communication and healing. They have made use of a wide range of visual and performing arts - through theater, poetry, painting, writing, and other creative expression - to affirm their own opposition to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The first Warrior Writers Project workshop was led by veteran Lovella Calica. To help other veterans deal with their experiences in Iraq, she encouraged them to write. Those who were willing to do so were asked to share their writings with the group. An anthology of these compositions was produced as the book "Warrior Writers: Move, Shoot and Communicate." Calica has since gone on to lead three writing workshops with veterans, and has published a second book, "Warrior Writers: Re-making Sense."

The goal of the Warrior Writers Project is to provide "tools and space for community building, healing and redefinition ... Through writing/artistic workshops that are based on experiences in the military and in Iraq, the veterans unbury their secrets and connect with each other on a personal and artistic level. The writing from the workshops is compiled into books, performances and exhibits that provide a lens into the hearts of people who have a deep and intimate relationship with the Iraq war."

Warrior Writers has also created exhibits that showcase artwork by members, and photographs taken by them in Iraq. It is a largely self-supporting endeavor wherein the funds generated from the sale of books and artwork help sponsor veterans to travel around the country, reading from and displaying their work, as well as funding other workshops. It has now grown into the Combat Paper Project.

Iraq veteran Drew Cameron and artist Drew Matott co-founded People's Republic of Paper (PRP), a paper-making studio in Burlington, Vermont. PRP offers artist residencies and also houses the Combat Paper Project. Cameron's commitment to the unique venture is premised primarily upon the need he experienced "for catharsis and reconciliation," and on his conviction that people must hear the soldiers' side of the story.
As he wrote in one poem:
If I say nothing, I have failed.
If I do nothing, I am guilty.
If I live by these ideals of democracy I can see that war is failure.
A war of opportunity rather than necessity is unjust.
War is the antithesis of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom.
Let us hear the stories of these young men and women.
Let us see through the eyes of the Iraqis
and the minds of the soldiers
what has occurred under the auspices of freedom and democracy.
Let us then ask ourselves if conflict has brought peace.
Let us be challenged by the horrific atrocities that no one should
have to bear, and then ask ourselves if they were worth it.
The idea of integrating the Warrior Writers and PRP into Combat Paper evolved from a workshop at Green Door Studio, which combined photography, artwork and readings from the first Warrior Writers book. During an evening reading session, the participants realized there was a lot of potential to extend the intense experience to far more people than any workshop could include. On the second day of that workshop, Cameron assembled a group of veterans and began making paper of the uniform he wore during the occupation by shredding, beating, and pulping it to form sheets of paper, and his friends loved it. That was the genesis of the Combat Paper Project.

In Cameron's words, "The residual anger from being used as tools for an immoral and illegal occupation finds release when shredded pieces of the uniforms are cooked and macerated in a Hollander beater to produce paper pulp." Cameron told Truthout, "The fiber of the uniform, replete with the blood, sweat, and tears from months of hardship and brutal violence in Iraq, tells its tale through these sheets, which are then turned into books, broadsides, personal journals, or works of art composed by the veterans. The entire process is aimed at enabling veterans to reclaim and transform their uniform as a piece of art. It is a step toward reconciling veterans with their traumatizing participation in the occupation. This symbolic act gives them the hope to carve a path through which to reenter civilian life, not by distancing themselves from their experience and the accompanying guilt, but by taking responsibility for their actions. In 2007 we put together the second anthology, 'Re-making Sense.' The title comes from the goal of remaking sense of our relationship with the war, of our lives, of what we do now, as veterans."

He says that combat uniforms that just sit in closets or boxes in the attic can remain associated with subordination, warfare and service. The Combat Paper Project redefines them as something collective and beautiful. The slogan for the project is "From uniform to pulp, Battlefield to workshop, Warrior to artist."

Cameron, who hails from a military background, was raised by his father to value the ideals that the military professes: loyalty, integrity, and honor. His trip to Iraq altered everything, and "it wasn't until after I came back that the truth hit me. I would keep to myself, and try to block out my experiences in Iraq. In the course of processing my memories I realized we had destroyed ... [Iraq's] infrastructure and were not there to help. I realized it was not about freedom and democracy, and recollecting the way we had conducted ourselves, and the way we had brutalized the people turned me against the occupation. We were trained to fight and win battles. I was in the artillery, trained to blow shit up. We were not there to re-build anything or help the Iraqi people."

Cameron was frustrated and aghast at the whitewashing of the situation in Iraq that the corporate media was engaged in. At the massive US air base Camp Anaconda, just north of Baghdad, he had access to satellite television and he realized that the images and stories coming out were different from what he was seeing on the ground.

"I remember intelligence reports that briefed us on attacks against us and how we were going to be hit were almost never in the news. I remember being hit for seven consecutive days by mortars, but that did not make news. As the violence escalated, we went from being able to go outside the gate to get sodas to not allowing Iraqis within two miles of the base because of fear of mortars and bombs. The American mainstream media coverage was always this spectacular type of reporting, full of the visual splendor of tanks and such, and not much content."

That discontent with the media influenced Cameron strongly, spurring his desire to bring out the truth about what the US government has done in Iraq. "The fundamentals of civil society and infrastructure have been so changed and altered in Iraq that it is absolutely devastated. To get your mind around that is challenging."

The art projects have been instrumental in assisting Cameron to come to terms with his experience in Iraq and in helping him heal.
"I can see it in my own writing, how the anger, gore, and frustration flows out graphically before transitioning into a deeper reflection and contemplation about how to approach the cultural relationship between militarism and our society. I have been able to purge all that stuff that made me so anxious, and now I'm more deliberate and patient in trying to understand what is happening in this country. It has helped me understand war-making and how this country works. My dad was in the military. It is so deeply rooted in us, it's in our subconscious, and we have to root that out and be able to transcend it."

He believes that the power of the written word and of artwork can achieve what few other channels of communication can.
"You can tell people through a didactic political conversation or panel how brutal the whole thing is, but it is not the same. What we are now doing through our art and our writing gives people the full picture."
The Combat Paper Project is the culmination of collaboration between combat veterans, artists, art collectors, and academic institutions. It is mostly displayed in public places, even on the street, which often attracts other veterans. Cameron is hopeful that with continued touring of exhibits and ongoing outreach, more veterans will join in. "We are trying to reach out beyond that ... Last weekend, we had art-hop [where businesses allow artists to showcase their work], and I met four vets. One was a Vietnam vet who remained AWOL for over twenty years before returning home. They all want to be part of the project."

Cameron intends to continue work with both the Warrior Writers and Combat Paper projects, and hopes that "eventually one of these is started with the veterans on the West Coast. The commonality of experience that connects vets is really eye-opening. We've worked with vets from Vietnam, Gulf War, Bosnia ... and the paper-making ritual has been transformative for everyone who has participated in it. For some it is an end and a rebirth."

The co-facilitator of the project, Drew Matott, is not a veteran, but an artist who has been involved in paper-making since 1998. Matott is interested in creating a dialogue with the public about the occupation of Iraq. One method he uses is to juxtapose art pieces that veterans created before a workshop against post-workshop pieces by the same veterans to underscore the transformation that has occurred in them.

"Usually the first pieces are very, very dark, when they first came in. Their latter projects reveal the healing that has taken place," says Matott, who hopes the project will soon go international. In late 2008, he was in dialogue with the Ottawa School of Art, which was interested in bringing the group up to do a Combat Paper Project with AWOL soldiers in Canada. "Then we're looking at taking some guys to the United Kingdom, to work with vets from Iraq and Afghanistan there, simultaneously opening the project up to wars other than the ones fought by the United States, involving soldiers from the United Kingdom who have been involved in other conflicts, also bring it near bases for active-duty folks to attend as well ... I think it is making a difference."

The project has had exhibitions around the country, in cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago and San Francisco, with many more to come.

Writing is also a primary means of both catharsis and resistance for soldiers returning from both occupations. Brian Casler spoke with Truthout about the immense relief from PTSD that participating in the Warrior Writers had brought him.

"For the marine, that was the first 'ah ha!' moment. We were sitting there, a small group of people at Fort Drum when Calica, who was leading the workshop, read out a letter written by a soldier to his family. She asked the group to guess where the letter was from. Everyone guessed Iraq or Afghanistan, and were stunned to hear that it was in fact from a French soldier in the trenches during World War I. He was an anti-war soldier and he was writing home about all the problems they were facing. It was verbatim the same crap we have going on. And then I read up on the Vietnam letters home, and that was also verbatim the same crap we have going on. Then, I listened to my fellow veterans at the workshop and said to myself, 'That's me. That's me. Those words feel like they're coming out of me. Your poetry speaks a piece of my heart.' And every time I push Warrior Writers, I say this is the anti-war veteran's heart right here on paper. Get it. I got a piece of me in there, but you know what, every piece feels like it's a piece of me in there."

Jon Michael Turner, a former US Marine Corps machine-gunner, became an icon of the anti-war movement when at the Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Spring, Maryland, in March 2008, he leaned into his microphone and said in an emotion-choked voice, "There's a term 'Once a marine, always a marine.'" Ripping his medals off and flinging them to the ground as the room exploded in applause he added, "But, there's also the expression 'Eat the apple, fuck the corps, I don't work for you no more.'"

Turner was the first veteran after Cameron to become part of the Combat Paper Project. He was still in the military when he moved to Burlington and heard about the effort. "My first night in Burlington I started to make paper out of the stack of uniforms in my trunk."

It was an accumulation of his experiences over time rather than any single event in Iraq that had turned Turner against the occupation. He remembers:

"Halfway through my second tour, things started to click with me. One of my close friends was killed, and another close friend, I don't know how the fuck he survived it, but he got destroyed by a mortar. It was also about how much we were pushing people out of their houses. We would kick them out of their houses and they had nowhere to go. Seeing this, and interacting with the people and seeing how our actions affect them did it. Plus, I was scared for my life each time I went anywhere, wondering if that was going to be the day. Finally it hit me. It sucks that it took three years, but I realized things happening there were not right."
Turner has found a genuine conduit to release the havoc that his time and actions in Iraq have wrought upon him, and to heal himself:

"All the experiences I've gone through, and all my built-up frustration and thoughts and anger ... instead of taking it out on another person, I can put it into my art, and this allows me to reclaim those experiences. I can take part of my military uniform and cut it up, and turn it into a piece of paper. On that blank piece of paper I put one of my poems for other people to experience it, and for that moment when they read it, they can see it all through my eyes."
He is not fully relieved of his trauma.

"I still struggle. The problem is [that] there is so much I need to reclaim. The Warrior Writers Project has taught people that they can express themselves through writing, and as traumatic as the experience may be, it's coming out in a beautiful way."
He is hopeful that the healing will continue as the project grows, and not for him alone.

In January 2003, Aaron Hughes was studying industrial design at the University of Illinois when he was called up by his National Guard Unit. After being trained in Wisconsin, he was shipped to Kuwait, where he spent fifteen months with a transportation company hauling flatbed tractor-trailers full of supplies to contractors, marines and other units. He regularly took supplies from camps and ports in Kuwait to bases in Iraq, such as Camp Anaconda, Baghdad and Talil Air Base.

After his tour, Hughes returned to college and decided to major in painting. He created more than fifty works of art from the nearly two hundred photos that he'd shot while in Iraq. Rather than attempting to provide a narrative of his experience in the occupation, he wanted his art to depict a deeper reality. Discussing his art with journalist Tatyana Safronova, he expressed the view that "narrative creates absolutes and I don't have one." Instead, Hughes sought forms of expression more similar to memory, with the "abstractions and complexities that exist in images or in poetry too."

Safronova describes one of Hughes's oil paintings, in which Hughes portrays a kneeling soldier in black and white, in uniform and holding a gun, unaware of two silhouettes of Iraqi boys standing behind his shoulder. The children are ghost-like, faceless, their images blurred into the desert. "It was very huge disconnect between us and them," Hughes said.

A charcoal and watercolor piece titled "Do Not Stop ... " represents the consequences of the orders given to drivers in convoys not to stop when children were on the road. The painting shows a soldier's boot next to the body of a dead child. "Safwan is the city that you cross the border into, in Iraq, and I'd say there's a convoy going through about every ten minutes, or less actually ..." Hughes explains to Safronova, "and these convoys have between 20 and 100 trucks in them. So that's like between a quarter mile to two miles long convoys, and these trucks are huge trucks. And there's a lot of kids on the road and ... it was really hard to control those kids. So there were some things that happened there with kids getting hit by trucks." In a poem that accompanies the piece, Hughes writes: "Keep the truck moving and don't stop. Forget the kids! Now, now I can't forget the kids. Damn kid. I'm not even there. Hundred thousand miles away and it's still in my fucking head."

Hughes uses his art in other ways, as well. During fall 2006, he went to a busy street intersection in Champaign, Illinois, and began "Drawing for Peace." In the performance, he set a sign in the street that read:
I am an Iraq War Veteran.
I am guilty.
I am alone.
I am drawing for peace.

Expanding on his action, on his website, Hughes wrote: "It is an attempt to claim a strategic space in order to challenge the everyday and its constant motion for a moment of thought, meditation, and PEACE." The video recording of the same action shows how Hughes had effectively shut down a street by drawing on it. Several buses stop for ten minutes. Many people exit the bus and stand on the street to watch him work before strolling away. Cars drive by him, seemingly unaware, but he works on, kneeling to draw, ignoring them, engrossed in his work. A motorcycle policeman appears and demands that Hughes leave the road and then pulls him off by his arm. Hughes returns and continues working on the dove he is drawing, until the cop again pulls him off the road, yelling at him. Hughes, dressed in his desert camouflage jacket, listens to the policeman patiently, then takes his sign and walks away. The camera pans back to show traffic resume, and cars and buses driving over the dove Hughes has left on the street.

The veteran, who has participated in marches, rallies, and the Operation First Casualty program, is seeking to publish his book "Dust Memories," a visual documentary of his journey through Iraq. His work has been exhibited in the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Urbana, Illinois, as well as in galleries in Chicago, Champaign and New York.

Truthout asked Hughes why he chose art as his means of protest.

"I see creative expression as one of the closest ways we can touch our humanity. By finding outlets for this, we can break through the structures that have been set up to encourage us to dehumanize each other." Hughes believes that art can be used to create a culture of a politically educated democracy because "As long as we have a culture that is depoliticized, we can't deal with the occupation of Iraq effectively."

When he was deployed to Iraq, Hughes carried with him the culturally constructed ideas of America as the great helper.

"But when I got there, I saw we were oppressing and dehumanizing the Iraqis. Seeing that first-hand, and recognizing the structures that allow this to happen, I had my perspective flipped around on me, and I saw how rooted in hate, greed, and racism this war actually was. People are making billions of dollars while other people are dying, and I don't know how to respond to that but through revolt and by finding a language to fight against it. And that is where art comes in. I can use this to speak out against what is happening in Iraq. Through my art I have even found ways to work with the population I used to oppress in Iraq. I now work with a group that gets prosthetics to Iraqi kids who need them, and kids who have lost their eyesight because of us. These children are still willing to embrace me as a human being. That degree of forgiveness is something that is difficult to reconcile without being pushed into finding ways to break through the hatred and sustain hope in humanity through love."

Theatre has been a tool for resistance and social transformation across cultures and ages. American soldiers have used it too, with the objective of exposing the reality of the occupation to the general population, and to exorcise themselves of the dark experience.

Truthout interviewed Jeff Key while he was driving from his home in Salt Lake City to Denver to perform "The Eyes of Babylon," the one-man play that he has developed from his Iraq war journals. Writing down his experiences in a notebook he carried in the cargo pocket of his uniform kept him sane, says Key. For entertainment, he would read his entries aloud to fellow marines. After returning home, Key was inspired to turn his entries into a play when friends who heard him read encouraged him to do something with his writings. He wrote the play, and a workshop version of it opened at the Tamarind Theatre in Hollywood, California. It ran there for eight months and closed to full houses. Since then, Key has toured "The Eyes of Babylon" nationally and internationally.

Key mentioned that he had two more plays in the works. "We're going to continue touring this one for a year, and I've just been busy with the charity foundation, but the play is my principle form of activism." The charity is the Mehadi Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Key that serves "as a support network providing assistance to United States Armed Forces veterans" enlisted during the invasion and occupation of Iraq "who seek help dealing with issues of PTSD, drug and alcohol concerns and other issues." The organization also provides "aid and assistance to Iraqi civilians as they attempt to rebuild in the wake of the conflict, with specific emphasis on the alleviation of hunger and rebuilding homes and schools destroyed by the War."

The lack of coverage of the occupation of Iraq worsened in December 2008, when major US television networks ceased sending full-time correspondents to Baghdad. In Afghanistan, as the situation has spiraled out of control, independent media coverage there has become more sparse as well. The door is now left open wider for veterans to use alternative methods to get their message out. With countless stories to tell, in increasing numbers, veterans stirred by their conscience are using creative outlets and artistic expression to articulate their opposition to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Art and literature sublimate the human experience. They have the power to transform those who create, as well as those who experience the creation. It is not short of any miracle that despite having been through some of the most life-threatening and morally appalling experiences, so many soldiers and veterans have retained their sanity and emotional intelligence. It is even more commendable that they have found within themselves the energy and resolve to deploy those precious assets to accomplish the two-pronged objective of healing themselves and reclaiming the ideals of democracy by making public their resistance.


-thanks to Dahr Jamail and Truthout.

September 6, 2009

Why DRONES must NOT be allowed in Central New York


If you've been reading the Syracuse Post-Standard recently you'll know that drone aircraft (a.k.a. "Reapers") have recently come to Hancock Air Base.

Drones are robots: unmanned - remote-controlled - aircraft. They are used for surveillance, assassination and bombing.

Although they are unmanned robots, the drones do have "pilots." But these pilots are operating in cyberspace from control rooms thousands of miles away from the battleground.

The US military is increasingly coming to depend on drones in its various wars overseas. Drones used in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are piloted from Creech Air Base in Nevada. Beginning this November they will also be piloted from Central New York.

Last year our former Congressman, James Walsh, hailed the arrival of drones. Not only do they provide a few jobs, but these killers make it possible for a "pilot" to work all morning (attacking targets in Afghanistan, for example), and "then go home for lunch in Camillus."

Five reasons why we must oppose the drones in our backyard:
~ Many of us oppose these wars overseas. But without our consent, drones will make Central New York a part of the battlefield.

~ Like many other high-tech weapon systems, drones tend to kill mostly innocent civilians.

~ Because it's mostly civilians who are maimed and killed, the drones stir up deep hatred. This could lead to retaliation against U.S. civilians, not only overseas, but here. The cycle of violence cannot be stopped by more violence.

~ Because the "pilots" themselves take no risks and never end up killed in action, drones make it easier to go to war. And they make it easier to escalate the wars we're already in. This leads to a state of perpetual war. As the Viet Nam War era saying went, "War isn't good for children and other living things."

~ Drones are cowardly. They are the weapons of rich, powerful nations invading poor, weak nations with few defenses. There is no honor in this.


What to do?

Work to end the wars where drones are being used. Here in CNY you can plug into the Syracuse Peace Council, (315) 472-5478, www.peacecouncil.net

Write letters to your congress people opposing drones.

Even better: write letters to the editor. A single letter will be read, not only by the influential editors, but also by tens of thousands of readers. Since drones will be housed here in Central New York the key newspaper to write to is the Syracuse Post-Standard [letters@Syracuse.com].

Don't take our word for it. Learn more about the drones and Reapers on your own. You might ask your local library to order a copy of a recent book by a former Pentagon analyst who critically explores the drone issue:
P.W. Singer, Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, Penguin, 2009. Be sure to read chapter 9, "The Refuseniks: The Roboticists Who Just Say No."

September 5, 2009

Drones Bring CNY Directly Into the Wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq

The Syracuse Peace Council is sponsoring a series of outreach events near Hancock Field on Tuesdays, 4:45-5:30 PM, throughout September. Check the schedule and locations below.


Starting this fall Syracuse's Hancock Field is set to become a home for The Reaper drone aircraft. These planes will be piloted from here in Syracuse for surveillance and attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and potentially elsewhere.This is a new step in our community taking a role in the war machine. Let's raise our voices against this latest escalation in our nation's wars.
ground the drones

SCHEDULE
Tuesday, September 8: Townline Rd. and E. Molloy Rd. (near Marine and Navy Stations)

Tuesday, September 15: Hancock Field Base Entrance (East Molloy Rd., just west of Thompson Rd.)

Tuesday, September 22: Thompson Rd. and E. Molloy Rd.

Tuesday, September 29:
Rt. 11, Northern Lights Shopping Center
Carpooling available from the SPC office, 2013 E. Genesee St., leaving at 4:15 pm.

Each of these actions is legal -- we are not doing civil disobedience or risking arrest. we just want to reach the thousands of vehicles passing us during the short 45 minutes we'll be standing there facing rush hour traffic. Please join us for at least one of these actions. We'll bring signs, but feel free to bring your own anti-drone/anti-Afghanistan war signs. and bring a friend!

We'd love to know you're coming and on which date(s) you can make it. any questions? please give us a buzz. Call Andy at SPC (472-5478).

Note: Before the drones arrive here in force this fall, Hancock Field needs to hear that Central New Yorkers don't approve of this vicious technology and that we don't want Central New York to become an extension of the Iraq and Afghanistan battlegrounds. If Hancock Field doesn't hear from us, it will surely take that as a vote of tacit consent.
-thanks to:
Syracuse Peace Council
2013 East Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13210
(315) 472-5478
www.peacecouncil.net
Educating, agitating and organizing for peace and social justice since 1936

-see more HERE

September 2, 2009

March Forward! veterans speak out against Gen. McChrystal's report

August 2009 had the highest number of US deaths in the entire war.
The second highest month is July 2009.

September 1, 2009

March Forward! veterans speak out against Gen. McChrystal's report
"All foreign forces should leave Afghanistan now!"

A national organization of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war will be campaigning against the expected Pentagon proposal to send 20,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

"The war in Afghanistan, like the one we were sent to fight in Iraq, is based on lies and false rationales. Instead of expanding the war, all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan immediately," according to a statement released by March Forward!

The group of war veterans will be organizing and participating in anti-war demonstrations around the United States on October 7, which marks the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, and October 17. August marked the highest number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan.

The group stated:
"As active duty service members and veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we stand in firm opposition to General McChrystal’s plan to continue and expand the war in Afghanistan."

The report is another case of official double-speak. McChrystal essentially admits that the previous eight-year strategy has been catastrophic and an abysmal failure. Yet he announced in a statement on Aug. 31 that "success is achievable and [the war] demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort."

As a politician/salesman in uniform, Gen. McChrystal is selling the country a bill of goods. He asks us to genuflect before the war machine and "trust" the generals.

It's worth remembering that it was Gen. McChrystal who stated in April 2003 in a nationally televised Pentagon briefing on the operations in Iraq, "I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over." The general is either a professional pitchman or a professional liar, or both.

Deciphering McCystal’s real message is important for every member of the armed forces. In short he is saying: all we have to do is be prepared to send several thousand more US servicemembers to their graves while they try to kill tens of thousands more Afghans and then, or perhaps then, the US will have established a stable puppet government in Kabul.

The war in Afghanistan is a colonial-type war. The people in Afghanistan are among the poorest in the world, but the country has always been considered a "prize" by competing colonial world powers. The Bush Administration had its sights on Afghanistan for its resources, its value as a route for oil pipelines and trade, and its geopolitical significance as a cornerstone of U.S. domination in the region. The Pentagon sought to establish military bases not only in Afghanistan but in all of the former Soviet Republics that border it.

There were no Afghans on the planes that struck on September 11, but today, after nearly eight years of aerial bombings, shellings and infantry attacks, tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed. The U.S./NATO assault, if anything, has contributed to the strengthening of the Taliban and other resistance forces.

The Pentagon brass can’t honestly define what victory means in Afghanistan. Originally they thought Afghanistan would be easily conquered and made into a semi-colonial extension of American power in Asia. That was a fantasy based on imperial arrogance, just like in Vietnam.

Today, what they are really fighting for—meaning what they are sending us to fight for—is to help them avoid the perception of having "lost" a war in a poor, third-world country in Asia. That’s exactly why Nixon and Kissinger kept U.S. forces fighting and dying in Vietnam from 1969-73.

The other reason we are fighting this war is that it is a source of profit for Corporate America. U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $200 billion this year for the Afghanistan war and much of it goes directly into corporate coffers. On Monday, as McChrystal’s report outlining an expansion of the war was revealed, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was at a Lockheed Martin facility pledging to spend $300 billion on new fighter jets like the ones that have been killing scores of Afghan civilians on a daily basis.

The war in Afghanistan only benefits those who can profit from it. It is paid for with billions upon billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money while funds for health care, child care, job training and education are slashed. It is paid for with the blood of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians; whether it is the loss of limbs, the death of a family member, psychological trauma, forced displacement, or the long list of tragedies associated with war, the occupation of Afghanistan has and will continue to destroy the lives of millions of people.

This is why March Forward! is joining in the call by the ANSWER Coalition and others to participate in actions throughout the country in scores of cities against the war in Afghanistan. We believe that a mass people's movement can be built that forces this atrocity to end.
Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and author of the world renowned memoir and film "Born on the Forth of July," is an enthusiastic supporter of March Forward!, and offered these words in support of this statement:
"As a United States Marine Corps Sergeant who served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, and was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down in 1968, I strongly disagree with General McChrystal. The war in Afghanistan is a huge mistake, another Vietnam disaster in the making. I want to encourage every member of our military, every veteran, and citizen, to raise your voices against this war, to protest, to demonstrate, to do all that you can before more lives are lost."

www.MarchForward.org

Press Contact:
Michael Prysner, Iraq war veteran
office: 213-251-1025
cell: 813-785-3179