Progressive Action Spot

"Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves." Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Refuse Illegal War

John Kerry was forceful as he took on the Administration on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” He said:
"I think it is immoral to have the lives of young Americans on the line while you are waiting for an election strategy. If you've got a better strategy, Mr. President, we deserve to have it now."

It is more than immoral though, to allow the troops to stay in Iraq – with how many more Iraqi deaths and how many more American deaths? – until after our elections. This is criminal. Disgusting. Traitorous. This is our leadership?

Meanwhile, as the US cuts benefits to veterans and pays six times the salary of an enlisted person for one of the many ‘privatized’ troops in our occupation of Iraq, military families stand in food lines, starving and struggling. “About Those Troops You’re Supporting: They can’t eat the ribbons” states the title of the article.

I wonder, if Americans had half a clue about the struggles of the military families, or if they understood that it is only the very smallest percentage of our Country that is really in this war, would it make a difference? If Americans knew about the courageous stand that so many service members and their families are taking against this atrocity, would that make a difference? If the American people understood that Iraqis do not want us there, that they believe that we are occupiers and they see the death and destruction that we have caused every single day, would this change American’s minds?

I understand that it is now almost 70% of Americans who are against the occupation of Iraq. However, it is only a very small percentage of Americans who are doing something about it. These people are activists because they have taken the time to find out the truth.

Most Americans do not know because they do not care to know, they do not make the effort to do the research and really see the truth, it is far too painful to have eyes open to what is really going on. The truth sucks, eventually, however, the awful reality will come up and bite us in the ass.

I will make an effort, albeit a very small one, compared to the efforts and sacrifices that so many of these organizations and people involved with them are doing, to outline what some of the truth is.

Military families speak out are working hard to end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home. A retired soldier of the US Army who fought in Vietnam, who has a son in Iraq, wrote an open letter to the GIs, reminding them not to lose their humanity. Military Families Speak Out understands the devastation of a human soul once they are taught to murder other people. This father and soldier writes:
“So we finish our tour, and go back to our families, who can see that even though we function, we are empty and incapable of truly connecting to people any more, and maybe we can go for months or even years before we fill that void where we surrendered our humanity, with chemical anesthetics--drugs, alcohol, until we realize that the void can never be filled and we shoot ourselves, or head off into the street where we can disappear with the flotsam of society, or we hurt others, especially those who try to love us, and end up as another incarceration statistic or a mental patient.”

This is what happens to people in war. It is ugly and it is unforgivable that our civilian leadership knowingly does this to our soldiers and then cuts benefits to treat PTSD.

Iraq Veterans against the war are calling for an immediate pullout of the occupation of Iraq. They are demanding that reparations be paid to the Iraqi people for our destruction of their lives and their Country and that full benefits for our veterans are funded. IVAW are very clear on why they are calling for withdrawal and documenting the evidence. I would think that these soldiers know what they are talking about. Isn’t it ironic that the media does not offer representation of these speakers and their positions and the many documented reasons why they are correct?

Bring them home now is also working with military families to end the occupation of Iraq. Their mission statement elaborates on their campaign:
“BRING THEM HOME NOW! is a campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq and galvanized to action by George W. Bush's inane and reckless challenge to armed Iraqis resisting occupation to "Bring 'em on."Our mission is to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations.”

An appeal for redress is a simple campaign in which active duty military can ask their congress members to bring the troops home now. Service members have limitations on what they can do, the law denies them the ability to protest except in special circumstances, only in the US, off base and out of uniform. An appeal for redress is a legal way for them to demand an end to the war in, and occupation of, Iraq.

Anti War is a tremendous resource which includes numerous articles about the futility of war. They include an excellent list of other peace campaigns and ideas about what we can do to help to end the occupation of Iraq and stop other wars before they start.

United for Peace and Justice is one of the most active organizations when it comes to combating and protesting this war. They have ongoing campaigns and protests and usually have local chapters that are easy to get in touch with and participate in. They have an excellent links page which leads to many other orgs that are fighting against war, and for peace. Their statement of purpose is focused and shows how active their organization is:

“United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 1300 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to protest the immoral and disastrous Iraq War and oppose our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.”

Code Pink is a wonderful women initiated organization that is fighting the immoral occupation of Iraq.
“CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration's fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.”

In addition to the many groups fighting against the Iraq war, all future wars, and for peace, there are many individual people who are refusing illegal war.
War resisters dot org offers a tremendous amount of information for service members who want to refuse illegal war. Tomjoad is also dedicated to supporting individual war resisters. Courage to Resist also supports individual resisters and offers information on how service members can refuse illegal war. Mission Rejected is a new book that details the thousands of soldiers who have resisted the illegal war in Iraq. There is also a movement to make conscientious objector rights a law rather than just a policy that can be revoked at anytime.

There are two soldiers who I have been watching because of their brave stances against this illegal war; Suzanne Swift and Lt Ehren Watada.

Suzanne Swift is currently AWOL because she refused to redeploy after being sexually assaulted and harassed by her superior officers. The culture of acceptance of violence against women in the military is so prevalent and so obscene that many women are told that it is “part of basic training” and it has led to deaths of women. According to this article

“The Defense Department says that reports of sexual assaults involving members of the armed forces rose 40 percent in 2005, and 65 percent in the last two years.”

Because sexual assault is so prevalent, many women have died of dehydration because they were not drinking fluids due to fear of going to the latrines at night and being raped. Suzanne Swift needs our support and letters of encouragement. No one should ever be punished for being a victim of sexual assault.

Lt Watada has become a hero and a wonderful representation of sanity. He is the first Commissioned Officer to publicly refuse deployment based on an illegal war. His eloquence is unmatched. His website has a multimedia section where his speeches can be viewed. Lt Watada said:

“The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people. Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. "I was only following orders" is never an excuse.”

“The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.”

“I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings. If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting sooner. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period … was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

Lt Watada has become a hero. He is an officer second and a responsible human being first. He, like all soldiers who refuse illegal war, deserve our support and our gratitude.

We can end this insanity. We can stop this war. We must band together and stand in a united front; we will work for peace and for justice. I believe that peace is a much more powerful position than war and fighting. I believe that the innate nature of humans is to work together, to be democratic, to hold Peace and Justice and Love above the insanity of hatred.

This is quite possibly the core difference between the left and the right. The right believes that humans are, at the core, bad, and must not be allowed to participate in governing. The left believes that human beings are, at the core, good, and that peace and justice are our Natural State. The left believes that humans should participate in, and be, the government.

This is why the left must succeed. The right’s vision of endless war cannot be allowed to prevail.

UPDATE: Upon a return home and a quick review of the news, there has been a lot released about Iraq today and the news from Iraq is grim.

Bush plays a semantics game and hopes that no one will notice.

The WAPo is actually covering the appeal for redress!

Reality is a bitch.

I noticed that the preznit once again denied permanent bases in Iraq. Bullshit.


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