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Fear, Itself and Other Dangers
Rusty Nelson on Peace and War
Earlier in my lifetime, Americans had an affinity for memorable statements of their elected leaders. In spite of philosophical, political, and religious differences, we could be inspired by catch phrases, warnings, and imperatives like Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Eisenhower’s great popularity was no match for the spiraling power of the military-industrial complex, but we certainly remember his warning, today.
In the 21st Century, the messenger may have brilliant rhetoric and universal insight and still fall flat with a jaded and cynical public. Obama has electrified his fan base with his words and delivery, over and over, but he can’t find resonance with critics who are hung up on one or two issues that make him the enemy. We’ll go back decades, at least, for a presidential quote or go with a contemporary outsider.
It’s not surprising that Franklin Roosevelt, with four terms, is remembered for more presidential zingers than anyone else. FDR was an orator in the golden radio years, and he seems to have struck a chord, as the U.S. entered World War II, with his declaration that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself.” It’s a legendary line, and most of us have taken it for granted as a wise slogan from a president determined that his country, his people will not tremble in the face of powerful enemies, hardship and sacrifice. I invite you to be a little cynical about the famous sentence. Read more »
Drones Quilt Project Visits Spokane
by Teresa Kinder
Veterans for Peace and PJALS brought the Drone Quilt Project to Spokane in March, memorializing the civilian lives lost to US Drone strikes. From newborn babies and young children to the elderly, no one is safe from US drones.
Five quilts were on display in the Community Building lobby, at our Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference, at Chris Hedges’ speech at the Bing, and at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Each square of the quilt represents a different life lost at the hands of a drone. The hundreds of patches represent a tiny minority of bodies who have been identified after a drone strike and some who have not been identified. It is important to remember that each of these squares represents an individual life that has been cut far too short.
The Quilt Project is a lasting reminder of our need for peace around the world. We are connected to individuals from around the world. Are we really so different from the individuals on these quilts? All of us have hopes, dreams, plans, family and friends; this is why we still struggle today.
War is God’s Way of Teaching Geography
by Dana Visalli
I recently flew from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea and thence to Hanoi, to join a two-week tour of Vietnam with Veterans for Peace (VFP). The tour is led by American veterans of the Vietnam War who now live in that country, working to in some way atone for the damage done there during that war.
The Vietnamese are a sweet, friendly, even kindly people, and it is impressive to recall how the western countries have treated them. The French colonized Vietnam in the 1860s and enslaved the Vietnamese people, forcing them to work for the enrichment of France. We have toured the prison that the French built for resistors, which included a guillotine for those who failed to grasp the god-given right of the French to rule over them. When the French tried to regain their ‘Indochina’ colony (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) after WW II, the U.S. supported them (we paid most of the cost of the ‘First Indochina War’), then we invaded and brutalized the Vietnamese for 20 years after the French were defeated (the ‘Second Indochina War,’ 1955-1975).
As my plane crossed over the Japanese city of Tokyo on the way into Seoul, I realized that I was retracing a geography that I was familiar with largely from America’s wars. Read more »
Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops
Rusty Nelson on Peace and War: Trying to Support the Troops
It must have been several years ago because the signs we held said “Free Bradley Manning,” and we Vets for Peace didn’t have to defend Chelsea Manning’s transgender rights while bringing attention to the persecuted, military whistle-blower Americans were trying to ignore. At an event in Riverfront Park, I was approached by two burly young men who said they were active duty military and considered Manning to be a traitor. They thought the army intelligence analyst’s reporting a massacre by U.S. helicopter crews was insignificant compared to the release of other classified information to Wikileaks. At least they knew something about the case. But then, they issued a challenge they might like to have back, now. “If you want to do something for an American soldier, put our government to work to free Beau Bergdahl.”
How things change. Private Manning, known now as Chelsea, is serving a 45-year prison sentence while the soldiers she reported remain uncharged and unpunished. Sgt. Beau Bergdahl is back in the U.S. after a controversial hostage/prisoner exchange, awaiting a decision on whether he will be charged with a crime. The story is different from the one several years ago, and several men from his unit want to see Bergdahl punished for being a deserter and putting them at risk. Read more »
Warrior Songs Spokane hosts retreat and “A Public Listening”
There are so many unacceptable costs of war from human life to the “demonic destructive suction tube” draining resources from our federal budget. While we continue to oppose each and every act of war, let us not also tell the truth about the costs incurred by veterans, their families, and our communities resulting from these acts. Please spread the word about this great healing opportunity for veterans with PTSD to anyone you know who may benefit from it. There is also a public event on Saturday Nov 22 for community members to learn more and show support.
Warrior Songs Spokane:
A healing retreat for veterans with PTSD
November 19-23, 2014 Read more »
Truth in Recruitment: a letter from Veterans for Peace member George Taylor
Dear concerned citizens,
Truth in Recruiting is a nationwide educational program sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Society of Friends, the War Resistance League and many other national groups. It is an informational vehicle designed to present a more accurate and truthful presentation about enlistment into all branches of the armed forces: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. This program seeks to expose the information that most official recruiters for the armed services keep quietly to themselves: Information like the extreme suicide and sexual assault rates in the military; or that 40 percent of recruits who enlist in the military today will not complete their full term of service.
The Veterans for Peace, chapter 35 in Spokane, has also created its own Truth in Recruiting program. It maintains that students in the public school system, as well as their parents and teachers, deserve the right to be presented with all of the accurate and truthful information about armed forces enlistment in order to make the most informed choices regarding their future. Read more »
Commemoration of What?
Rusty Nelson on Peace and War
Veterans for Peace is such a tonic for me that it seems almost unthinkable there could be sharp divisions among its members and chapters. I remember the thrill of solidarity at the national convention in Seattle a few years ago and affirmation from Spokane vets who attended subsequent conventions. I loved being with Western Washington members last November in Auburn, and in Tacoma in February, not to mention planning, laughing, and solving global problems with our local members.
What disharmony could exist among veterans who agree that war should be abolished as our default foreign policy and that our leaders should be accountable for the devastating costs of war? Alright. That’s a silly question for anyone who’s spent years working in peace and justice organizations. Peace mongers come in all imaginable types. In fact, it was reassuring to hear VFP leaders talk, at our Tacoma conference, about recent internal squabbles, because they involve disagreements which allow for constructive discourse and encourage independent points of view.
As one who joined VFP about the time I started working for PJALS, I was not drawn to the regional conference to be enlightened by workshops, but to be part of the community-building for our chapter as well as among state-wide chapters. Feeling some success in that, I was caught off guard by one workshop: “Vietnam Commemoration.” Read more »
Pull the Pentagon Pork: Protect our Priorities, Protect Families
Update: Check out our photo petition on the National Day of Action to Pull the Pentagon Pork here!
By Lucy Vazquez
On Tuesday February 19th PJALS members met with John Culton, the Eastern Washington Director for Senator Patty Murray as our second mobilization, following up on our December action, where we delivered over 1,100 signatures of individuals and 18 different organizations that have signed on as part of PJALS’ Bring Our Billions Home Campaign. As the fight over the budget continues and more cuts to social programs are on the chopping block, PJALS decided to make a stance and urge Senator Murray to protect our communities and fight to reduce wasteful Pentagon spending.
Sitting in Senator Murray’s Eastern Washington Director John Culton’s office with seven PJALS members–veterans, students, farmers, mothers and fathers, and other everyday people–and listening to their stories made me realize this is not about numbers, it’s about impacting real people and communities. Read more »