Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Letter to Represenative Shuler and Senators Burr and Hagan

I urge you to use the upcoming debate over $33 billion more for war and occupation in Afghanistan to highlight the human cost of continuing the war for Americans and Afghans.

From the NY Times:  “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent video conference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties.

We need to start working on an exit strategy.  Please demand that an exit strategy be presented BEFORE voting for more money for this war and occupation.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Protest in Turkey and the Philippines




Dozens of riot police officers surround eleven members of a pro-Islamic human rights group as they show a banner that reads 'In Iraq not only humans but humanity is dying' , not seen, to protest the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq on the seventh anniversary of the Iraq war, outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday March 20, 2010 (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici






Police block protesters as they try to march towards the U.S. embassy for a rally commemorating the 7th anniversary of Iraq war Saturday, March 20, 2010 near the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines. The protesters called for an end on the alleged U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
(AP Photo/Pat Rqoue)


Abdulai remembers those killed in Iraq

just as he remembers his father......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Speech by Iraq war veteran

Meeting with Representative Shuler and Ms. Fishman

This past Monday, March 22, I was in DC to lobby my elected officials with FCNL.  For the US Senators, I talked to them about the CLEAR act - which I wrote up below.

At 4:15 on Monday, I went to Shuler's office in the Cannon Building.  Rep. Shuler and his Senior Advisor, Ms. Fishman were running a bit late - and I had to pick up my luggage from the FCNL office before 5 PM (when they closed) - so it was a short meeting.  The subject of the meeting was Afghanistan, and I was specifically asking Rep. Shuler to push for an exit strategy. 

I started by thanking Rep. Shuler for voting to follow the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.  And basically, I would like to see an Afghanistan Study Group and a detailed plan for starting to exit that country.  This will have the advantage of signaling that the US does not intend to develop an empire and use Afghanistan as part of it's overall strategy.  I believe the SOFA that we developed with Iraq is helping to stabilize Iraq and helping Iraq develop into the country that they wish to become.  (Now, the SOFA says that we will leave Iraq totally at the end of 2011, and I have some doubts that they will actually do that, but I certainly will push to see that outcome.)

I mentioned how two major Afghan Taliban were captured in Pakistan recently, and on the surface one would thing that was a good idea - but those Taliban were supposed to be involved in a peace jerga with the Karzai government, and there is talk out there that Pakistan arrested those two to have some control over the political processes inside Afghanistan.  Pakistan is fighting a bit of a proxy war with India inside Afghanistan.  I also pointed out how our troops are fighting for the Karzai government, which is very corrupt.  In Marjah, we are fighting drug lords outside the Karzai government, and making the drug trade better for the drug lords inside the Karzai government.  In Helmand province last year, the locals told the Brits they did not want the Afghan police there if they continued to kidnap and rape young boys - they preferred the Taliban who did not allow that to happen.  There is also ongoing fighting between various fractions inside Afghanistan, and the US troops were not bring peace by joining up with one side over another in a developing civil war.

I shared with Shuler that bombing Pakistan to get the Taliban or al Qaeda was like bombing Murphy NC to get Eric Rudolph..... it might work, but at what cost?  I am sure the people of Pakistan feel the same way about their lives and their kid's lives as the people of Murphy do.  We also discussed the suicide bombing of the CIA, and how they seemingly do not know what they are doing there in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  They don't even realize when they have a double agent.

I also said that I felt the story of Pat Tillman was the story of America's "war on terror".  Our best and brightest volunteer to protect our country, we send them off to fight mainly against poor people that have nothing to do with the terrorists, and in the process kill off our best and brightest by friendly fire and then lie to the family (or country) about it.  It is stupid and sickening.

I also shared an op-ed written by the president of the local Vets for Peace group (on their blog).  In it, McChrystal talks about the tragic loss of innocent lives (which happens on a regular basis in both Iraq and Afghanistan) and the a local County Commissioner makes a joke about "when in doubt, empty the magazine" to local troops going to Iraq.  If they were to follow that advice, there will be more killing of innocent people and probably killing of fellow troops too.

I fell, overall, that this was a productive meeting.  I am sending off some articles to Ms. Fishman, his Senior Advisor, about Afghanistan and what is happening in the area.  It is a complicated situation - with few real innocents there - but it is a situation that requires a non-military solution and a solid exit strategy.  I know it is more complicated that I can convey in a blog post, but I do feel we need to work on reconciliation between various fighting fractions, and develop a jobs program for the Afghan men in the short term.  In the long term, we need to educate the girls to improve Afghanistan and bring peace to the area.

McChrystal has stated that there is no military solution - I wonder when he will realize that military intervention only makes finding a peaceful solution more difficult? 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weapons in space? Upcoiming presentation from WNC PSR

 On Thursday, March 25th, 7:00 PM at The UNCA Reuter Center,
Western NC Physicians for Social Responsibility is pleased to
offer our community an event in the form of a question, "Weapons
in Space?”, at which Karl Grossman will offer his ideas, while he
alerts us about our nation’s plans to weaponize and "dominate"
space and how he views the importance of keeping Space for Peace.
This program is a extension of WNCPSR’s work for  a sustainable
world,the greatest threats of which come from expansion of
radioactivity throughout our heavens and earth as well as from
global climate change.

       Karl has been an investigative journalist for 40 years, is a professor in
the State University of New York system, has hosted the nationally-aired
TV programs, does weekly radio commentary, has written six books
including "Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear
Power;" and has received the John Peter Zenger and other awards. His
weekly column runs in the Press Newspaper Group and in other newspapers.
He has given presentations in the U.S. and around the world.

       This event is free for everyone to attend. Light refreshments will be
offered at 6:30 prior to the program.

CLEAR act


Today, I visited my two US Senators offices to talk to legislative aids about the CLEAR act.  That is the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s renewal act, which is sponsored by Senator Cantwell and Collins.  I am doing this in conjunction with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

The CLEAR act is a ‘cap and dividend’ act.  It will sell off carbon credits, which will result in higher costs to consumers.  The funds from those sales will be divided into 75% refund for consumers (all legal citizens of the USA) and 25% will go to Congress to invest in non-carbon energy sources.  The goal is to reduce the use of carbon generating energy (oil, gas and coal) and promote the use of renewable energy and energy conservation.  This is a simple bill that keeps Wall Street out of the carbon capping business and will regulate the carbon producing businesses at the top (about 3,000 of them). 

Both Hagan and Burr professed to be in favor of clean energy and protecting the environment.  They both thought mountain top removal was horrible.  I shared with them that I would rather have a windmill on every mountain top in western NC than see even one more mountain top removal in Kentucky or West Virginia.  I also discussed the coal ash pond in southern Asheville, and how kids are getting asthma.  

Neither office promised to be a co-sponsor of the CLEAR act. 

North Carolina folks, you can help get them to be cosponsors of the CLEAR act.  Here is some information from an email I sent to friends about my lobbying for the CLEAR act:

Friends Committee on National Legislation is asking the US Senate to pass the CLEAR act, which is the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal proposed by Senators Collins and Cantwell.  It is not a perfect bill, it is far better than “cap and trade” nonsense that may end up with Wall Street acting as brokers.  This bill will require corporations to buy “pollution permits” for carbon dioxide and the disbursements will go 75% to American people and 25% to Congress to disperse for renewable energy projects.  This has the advantage of being industry neutral, as all industries will pay for their carbon use.  It will also be income-neutral for most Americans, since the added cost for energy from carbon sources (oil, coal, gas) will be reimbursed from the disbursement.  This will push people towards more energy conservation and for more energy independence for the US and towards more carbon-free energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal energy.


Again, you can help my lobby efforts by calling our Senators and telling them to co-sponsor the CLEAR act.

Burr   202-224-3154

Hagan 202-224-6342

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This love will carry

This was posted on a friend's blog a while back, and I decided to post it on my blog too. The music is beautiful.





Lyrics:


THIS LOVE WILL CARRY by Dougie MacLean

It’s a thin line that leads us and keeps a man from shame
And dark clouds quickly gather along the way he came
There’s fear out on the mountain and death out on the plain
There’s heartbreak and heart-ache in the shadow of the flame

This love will carry. This love will carry me
I know this love will carry me

The strongest web will tangle, the sweetest bloom will fall
And somewhere in the distance we try and catch it all
Success lasts for a moment and failure’s always near
And you look down at your blistered hands as turns another year

This love will carry. This love will carry me
I know this love will carry me

These days are golden, they must not waste away
Our time is like that flower and soon it will decay
And though by storms we’re weakened, uncertainty is sure
And like the coming of the dawn it’s ours for evermore

This love will carry. This love will carry me
I know this love will carry me

Saturday, March 20, 2010

After-action

I was told that Cindy Sheehan and several others had taken the cardboard coffins, with flags stapled to them, up in front of the White House gate.  They refused to leave and were arrested.

When I arrived, the Park Police were ripping the flags off the cardboard boxes, breaking them down, and putting them away.  Cleaning it up, I guess.  But here is the interesting thing - the female police officer by the name of Clark, pulled an American flag off a box, then dropped it on the ground and left it there.  She nearly stepped on it.  So, who would have thought that a police officer would desecrate the US flag right in front of the White House?  Wish I had thought to take a picture when the flag was on the ground, but for some reason, I didn't do that.  The last photo above is of Clark loading the box of flags into the park service truck.  Too bad all those flags will just go to waste.  I wish I could have had an Iraqi flag.  There were also flags from Lebanon, Palestine, and Afghanistan.

More photos of the Iraq Memoral

There are a lot of "unknowns" on the Iraqi Memorial markers - as there should be, for many people just disappeared and their loved ones have no idea what happened to them.  I heard an interesting story today from Doug, who started this project going, about doing Skye calls between US teenagers in high school and Afghan teenagers.  That is a pretty impressive project.  I will be making more of the markers for the Iraq Memorial, and will be working with their website.

Pictures from the rally

Some pictures from the rally today in Lafayette Park across from the White House.  Also included a photo of the sharp shooters on the White House roof.  The rally was very good, with a lot of interesting speakers.  The people who made cardboard coffins were not allowed to put them on the ground, and some of the sellers of tee shirts were not allowed in the park.  It seems that the police just want to keep hassling people.  I did not go on the march, due to a blister on my foot.  I went back to Camp Out Now for a while and cleaned up the food tent some.  One thing that I don't like about this rally is the bringing in of other topics that are not related to war or human rights..... like people in prisons and abortion issues.  I guess people cannot help themselves.

Beautiful spring day at the White House.  This is the only side of the White House where you can actually see it without obstructions and not be that far away. 

Guy at the march

This guy at the rally was taking all kinds of photos of people on the stage and the crowd around him.  He was doing some close up pictures, from the looks of his camera.  So, I decided to go and take some pictures of him.  He did not like that at all.  I did not say anything to him other than 'I want to take your picture' or something, but he commented that he did not work for the CIA.

I think he works for the police.
  But what do I know?  He certainly did not wear any tee shirts, buttons, stickers or carry a sign that indicates his political positions concerning war.  And anyone who goes to a rally should expect to have their picture taken.

One Tin Soldier

Memorial to the victims


Tonight, there was a small group of people in DC that stood by the Washington Monument and remembered all the civilian casualties of the war on Iraq.  One women was from Argentina, and she noted in a tearful voice how we (the USA) have such a bad reputation in the world, and how there were so few Americans there to mark the violence and evil done to the Iraqi people.  Above are some photos from this candle light vigil.  It was very emotional for some people.

And the occupation goes on

Friday, March 19, 2010

Seven years.....

BRING AMERICA HOME!!

Will war criminals be prosecuted?

I saw this video in May 2009 and decided to save it for the seventh anniversary of the illegal war of aggression on Iraq. The question I have today is-- by next March, will the war criminals of the USA be prosecuted? will the torturers be brought to justice? 

[Even before I could publish this, we now know that torturers will not be brought to justice and the war criminals will not be brought to justice either.  All we have right now is citizens who are targeting the torturers and war criminals at individual appearances, and maybe a chance of international governments issuing arrest warrants for these criminals.  What a damn sad state of affairs.]


Will the US Constitution be restored? Time will tell.  [Probably not.] Here's Bush the liar just before the start of the destruction of Iraq for fun and profit:

Seven years of evil visited on Iraq

Seven years of waste, fraud, abuse, torture, murder, mayhem, and destruction of a country.

SEVEN YEARS AND OUR TROOPS ARE STILL THERE!!!

And, they are still killing people and still dying.  The overall violence has gone down, but it is still there.

May God forgive us for this vast evil.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An evil comment by an evil person seven years ago today

“But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
from Barbara Bush on ABC - Good Morning America, March 18, 2003

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In honor of Rachel Corrie


Rachel Corrie was killed on this date in 2003 in Palestine.  She was trying to stop the destruction of a Palestinian home by the IDF by acting as a human shield.  They ran over her with a bulldozer and killed her.  She was 23.

Today, her family is working on a civil suit against the IDF and Israel.




The family of the American activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago, is to bring a civil suit over her death against the Israeli defence ministry.  The case, which begins on March 10th in Haifa, is seen by her parents as an opportunity to put on public record the events that led to their daughter's death in March 2003.

Four key witnesses – three Britons and an American – who were at the scene in Rafah when Corrie was killed will give evidence.  The four were all with the International Solidarity Movement, the activist group to which Corrie belonged. They have since been denied entry to Israel, and the group's offices in Ramallah have been raided several times in recent weeks by the Israeli military.  Now, under apparent US pressure, the Israeli government has agreed to allow them entry so they can testify.


Rachel wrote this piece when she was ten years old:


We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them. - 10 year old Rachel Corrie, who was killed by the Occupation Army 13 years later


What an amazing child she was to see this clearly!  She must have had remarkable parents.

From End the Occupation email:


The trial is already generating significant media attention, and the Rachel Corrie Foundation--a member group of the US Campaign--is posting trial updates on their website. Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, have issued a call for an International Day of Conscience on March 16, which marks 7 years since Rachel's death. To get action resources and register your March 16 actions and events, click here. One action that the Corrie's request you take is to call the White House and tell them to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.  Special Envoy George Mitchell should be sent to the Gaza Strip the determine the need for humanitarian aid and then the U.S. should directly deliver that aid in contravention of the Israeli blockade.  Call the White House at (202) 456-1111.


This blog post is my way of honoring Rachel and the International Day of Conscience.  And I will be calling the White House today also.



Photo:  Peace activist Rachel Corrie died while protesting in front of a bulldozer trying to destroy a Palestinian home in Rafah in March 2003. Photograph: Denny Sternstein/AP

Monday, March 15, 2010

On "nation-building"

We’re “nation-building” in Afghanistan while our own schools are deteriorating, our economy is in shambles, poverty is expanding and people are losing their homes and putting up tent cities. We are the only developed country without universal health care coverage. We are number one in the developed world in murder rate, infant mortality, and number of people we put in prison. We spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined.

Of course, “nation-building” is really just another word for war and occupation. The correct term would be “nation-destroying”

Which what we did to Iraq…. Hundreds of thousands were killed, millions were made refugees and won’t go back to Iraq. Infrastructure has been destroyed and millions of lives were horribly damaged, many never to recover.

And it has not worked out too well for our troops either.

The most evil and hideous thing Obama said on 12/1/09 was that “Thanks to [U.S. troops’] courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future.”

The US troops destroyed Iraq and ended or ruined millions of lives, and that is GIVING THEM A CHANCE TO SHAPE THEIR FUTURE?

Hell, we are hardly giving our own country a chance to shape our future. We most certainly destroyed the future for most Iraqis.

“Like Bush’s America,” John Pilger notes, “Obama’s America is run by some very dangerous people”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today's Open House


Photo of Donna and Stack performing, taken by Laura S.

Today, the local chapter of the Veterans for Peace held an open house at their new office in downtown Asheville.  They showed a movie about the effects of war on the environment, and then had a live program of music, singing, readings, and short speeches.  It was recorded and will hopefully be on URTV in the new future.  The Vets for Peace have a TV show on URTV.  I very much enjoyed this presentation, and I wish I had brought my camera to take some pictures.  I enjoyed Donna's singing and playing the most.

I picked up a women named Iris and took her to this event.  She is a veteran, and interested in joining up with the Veterans for Peace.  She is a senior citizen and moved to our area a couple of months ago.  She does not drive, and we discussed how hard it is not to have bus service on Sunday, and not to have sidewalks on Riceville and Tunnel Roads.

Change the world, not the channel

video by TMZ, a great rapper. But it leaves unanswered - what exactly do we change? and what exactly do we need to do, when he says 'do something'?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kucinich on getting out of Afghanistan

Rep. Kucinich presented a bill to the US House of Representatives that called for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.  The bill failed, but two Representatives (among others) spoke in favor of this bill.  Representative Donna Edwards and Representative Alan Grayson are on the you tube videos below.  I respect both of them very much.



Do not call me stranger

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Lessons on how to treat one another

Brahmanism:
This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517

Christianity:
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. Matthew 7:12

Islam:
No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Buddhism:
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana Varga 5:18

Judaism:
What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 31:a

Confucianism:
Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. Analects 15:23

Taoism:
Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. T'ai Shag Kan Ying P'ien

Zoroastrianism:
That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself. Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

The above came from an email from Information Clearing House. This are a great news service, and the writer throws in quotes of wisdom too.... all free.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Left in Germany knows how to do it!

 

Left Party MPs protest against the Afghan military mission by holding up signs naming people killed in the September 2009 airstrike near Kunduz.  Photograph: Reuters

I think this was a great demonstration.  It took place in the German parliament on February 26, 2010.  They demonstrated the loss of civilian lives in this 8 year old war on Afghanistan, and of course, since the NATO troops are there to bring 'freedom and democracy' to the Afghan people, killing them off is not really advancing the overall goals.   Here is a piece from the news article:


GERMANY’S LEFT Party was expelled from the Bundestag yesterday after its members held up signs bearing the names of Afghan civilians killed in a German-ordered airstrike last September.  The protest came in the middle of a parliamentary debate on extending Germany’s nine-year military mission to Afghanistan by a further year.

Some 429 MPs voted for and 111 against the new mandate – 16 fewer votes in favour than last time – allowing troop numbers to be increased by 850 to 5,350.  The opposition Green Party abstained and, after being re-admitted, the Left Party MPs contributed to the 111 votes against the mandate.

“This was no routine vote, we reject the war in Afghanistan,” said Gesine L√∂tzsch, the Left Party’s designate co-leader, after MPs held up about 70 signs with names of victims. One read: “Ali Mohammad, farmer, 35 years old, nine children.  “This was a dignified way of remembering individual people with names and biographies who have died, deaths that have brought calamity on their families.”

 At least they tried to bring some sense to the German parliament!  


BRING AMERICA HOME!
END OUR WORLD WIDE MILITARY EMPIRE!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Two events this weekend in Asheville

MOVIE ON March 12, 2010

Asheville Unitarian Universalist Church’s next social justice film will be THE AGE OF STUPID, Friday, March 12, at 7 PM. All may gain insight from his film, as it helps us overcome the lies we tell ourselves, as we tend to avoid effectively dealing with the emerging crisis of climate change.

Beginning in the year 2055 in a very troubled world, a record keeper is entrusted with the preservation of humanity's surviving store of art and knowledge. Alone in his offshore repository, he reviews information recalled from back "when we could have saved ourselves", trying to discern where it all went wrong.

OPEN HOUSE on March 14, 2010

Veterans For Peace Chapter 099 will hold an Open House Sunday, March 14 Noon to 6pm At VFP HQ in the Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut 1-D (downstairs), Asheville, NC.

Refreshments, information, entertainment

Event schedule:

12:30 – film: “Scarred Land and Wounded Lives: the Environmental Footprint of War”

2 to 4:00: Live music, stories, PeaceTown presentation, and a tribute to Howard Zinn

4:30 – film: “Rethink Afghanistan”

The entertainment program will include music with Stack Kenny and Donna Schutt and Lyle Petersen as featured performers; poetry and stories from chapter members; a tribute to the late Howard Zinn (a longtime VFPmember); and two films. The live entertainment is scheduled from 2 to 4pm.

The film, “Scarred Land and Wounded Lives: the Environmental Footprint of War,” will be shown at 12:30 and “Rethink Afghanistan” will run at 4:30.

Chapter members will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.

The Story of Cap and Trade

Monday, March 08, 2010

Rep. Ron Paul on "Assassinations"

Even though assassinations are illegal under international and national law, our President has the power to ignore those laws in our ridiculous "war on terror". Bush and Obama have ordered assassinations of people in foreign countries, including American citizens. So far, it has not happened on our soil - at least, as far as I know.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

On Iraq

First an op-ed by the local president of Vets for Peace, WNC Chapter 99, published in the Asheville Citizen Times.


What is 'duty' for our troops and for us as citizens?

“Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.''
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In certain contexts, the sense of a word can become obscured. Cultural overtones, strong feelings, and preconceived notions can distort its meaning until it conveys a whole package of emotion-laden ideas and beliefs that cloud rational thinking. One of these words, especially in a military context, is “duty.”

The Feb. 21 AC-T editorial, “WNC units, and their families, deserve our support,’’ began with these words: “Yet again, units from Western North Carolina are being called upon to travel to distant lands to perform their duty. And yet again, we expect their fellow Western North Carolinians to perform their duty by supporting them…”

Duty. It means an action or task required by a person's position or occupation. For the North Carolina National Guard, the editorial's subject, this duty is defined in the reservist's oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of North Carolina against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of North Carolina and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations.”

Note that the oath is all about upholding the law. It is to support and defend the law of the land, the Constitution. Also note that obedience to orders is qualified — “according to law and regulations.” The qualifier means, importantly, that the duty is to obey legal orders; and the duty is also to not obey unlawful orders.

In Article VI, the Constitution states that our international agreements, such as the United Nations Charter, are part of “the supreme Law of the Land.” The UN Charter provides only two circumstances in which war is permitted: one is with Security Council approval; the other is in response to an armed attack. Our ongoing and unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan met neither of these conditions. In short, these two wars are illegal; both are in violation of the Constitution.

Let's stop and think again about “duty.”

Let's also stop and think of another phrase full of baggage: “Support our troops” (which the editorial suggests is our “duty” as citizens). If this means “Support our dedicated people who are in service to this country,” then I'm for it. Let's support them as people — our neighbors, friends, and relatives — by doing what we can to insure for them long, happy, productive lives. Let's support their duty to uphold the Constitution.

Let's bring them home.

If, however, the phrase means “Support these illegal wars,” then I'm against it. If it means “Our country — right or wrong,” then I'll choose “right” or I'll work to right the wrongs.

My generation's “duty” was to go to Southeast Asia and prevent dominoes from falling. The U.S. hadn't been attacked and, as now, wasn't under any kind of threat from the nation it attacked. Yet millions dutifully served and tens of thousands have their names inscribed on a wall. Many more met premature, war-related deaths in the decades that followed the war, which ended only when, finally, U.S. citizens and the troops themselves said: “No more war!”

The editorial says we live in “the age of terror.” But that's just a new name. The scare tactic is the same. This age doesn't feel much different from the age of dominoes, or the age of communism, or age of the Cold War. But the article does end with an uplifting thought, a hopeful longing for a time when “it's no longer necessary to call on [our National Guard troops] again.”

I believe we can hasten the arrival of that day. But it will require that citizens and troops recognize when “Some one had blunder'd” — or, perhaps, fabricated “intelligence.” It will require us to “reason why” and to “make reply.” It will require us to forsake the mindless acceptance and blind obedience we've become so accustomed to. It will require us to stop and to think and to rethink our duty as citizens, and our duty as troops.

Or we can continue to do and die.

Kim Carlyle is president of Veterans For Peace WNC Chapter 099, editor of the War Crimes Times, and lives near Barnardsville.

On Iraq, part two

A letter from the New York Times.


To the Editor:

Thomas E. Ricks expresses his belief that it may be necessary to extend our presence in Iraq by “several years.” He bases his argument on the belief that a force of 30,000 to 50,000 troops with a very narrow mission to advise and assist Iraqi security forces could avert a civil war.

Mr. Ricks is correct that the fundamental divisions in Iraq between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds remain unsolved as well as the issues of oil revenue-sharing and the nature of the government. But our continued presence will not serve to advance resolution of these issues and is not likely to prevent a war, since a much larger presence over the last seven years has not led to a resolution amenable to all parties. Senior military leaders have already stated in the press and in other public forums that our influence over events is waning at best, if not virtually nonexistent.

The only viable alternative is to withdraw now and quickly. Should we leave now, we can honestly say that we have invested greatly in the future of Iraq (more than 4,000 lives, billions of dollars, national prestige) and done all we could to set the conditions for a successful, peaceful future for the Iraqi people.

The rest is up to them; they will either succeed or fail. We must ensure that should they fail, they do not take us down with them.

Mark Solomon
Manassas, Va., Feb. 25, 2010
The writer is an Army lieutenant colonel who has served two yearlong tours in Iraq.

On Iraq, part three

This is an op-ed from Rep. Conyers, published in USA Today.

While the wisest course of action would have been to avoid this costly conflict entirely, we must, at the very least, honor the Status of Forces Agreement entered into by the U.S. and the Iraqi governments in November 2008. It states that the U.S. will remove its combat troops by the end of this August, followed by the removal of all U.S. forces from the country by Dec. 31, 2011.

All parties, political and otherwise, currently operating in Iraq are relying on the U.S. to follow through on this mutually negotiated troop removal timeline. The fledgling government in Baghdad has derived much of its legitimacy from the Iraqi people by appearing to stand up to the American occupation and by providing internal security independent of U.S. forces.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Quote from Solzhenitsyn

"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Message sent to politicians

 


The powerful have invoked God at their side in this war, so that we will accept their power and our weakness as something that has been established by divine plan. But there is no god behind this war other than the god of money, nor any right other than the desire for death and destruction. Today there is a "NO" which shall weaken the powerful and strengthen the weak: the "NO" to war.  ~   Subcomandante Marcos - Source: No to war, 2/16/03


I SAY ‘NO’ TO THESE EVIL WARS AND OCCUPATIONS.
 
Photo: 
Abdul Hamid, 12, recuperates from his injuries at an Italian charitable hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. At the whitewashed Italian-run Emergency Hospital in Helmand's dusty provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, most of the civilian wounded recuperating from the Marjah battlefield said their injuries were caused by "the foreign soldiers," a claim that could hurt U.S. efforts to win Afghan hearts and minds. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaliq) (Abdul Khaliq - AP)