Monday, May 16, 2011

MONUMENTS TO US WARS in Arkansas, from Waldron to the Bella Vista' Veterans Wall of Honor

Google Arkansas War Monuments Memorials for additional information (all pro-war).

News Report of New War Memorial
Dick's Comment on Slogan "Support the Troops"
Dick's Three Letters to Bella Vista Pro-War Vets

Veterans and their families purchased bricks for the monument and had them engraved.   (Arkansas Democrat Gazetter, 5-11-11).

Definition Power (who controls the language controls the people)
The U. S. Constitution grants power to Congress to call out the militia to “suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”  The Constitution declares our right of national self-defense.    But what is the “nation”?   Now our leaders include in the US “nation” all its advance bases.  And what is “defense of the nation”?    US soil has been invaded only three times: War of 1812, Pearly Harbor 1941, and World Trade Center/Pentagon 2001.    Yet now “self-defense” is defined as “national security,” and our leaders go to war around the planet—over forty illegal invasions and interventions since 1945—for a nation encompassing its 900 military bases in over 100 countries..

Indoctrination Power: Support the Troops
How our leaders persuaded its populace to believe such an absurd yet massively bellicose and lethal a definition is a dark reality of US history since WWII.   The books I mention in this Newsletter significantly add to our understanding of that history.  One consequence of the new definition—the unceasing call to “support the troops”-- functions to sustain US wars for the “security” of the “nation” strung out around the globe.  The slogan “support the troops” helps to explain how the new disastrous definition has been sustained.   It also reveals why the slogan is losing its powerful grip over the public, as the public increasingly questions the “self-defense” claimed for the wars and the legitimacy of the new name in 1947 for the Department of War    The “support the troops” slogan, while it might be valid in defense of the homeland, has lost its persuasiveness in the defense of all of the advanced US bases scattered over land or sea in the several military jurisdictions into which the planet has been divided by the Department of War—the Department of Conquest and Empire.  Consider the logic of our leaders which has undernourished the public for sixty years:  The US has the right to invade and intervene in order to defend old conquests.   Heard that before?   Listen to the speeches and the boots of the Roman, British, and Nazi imperial rulers and troops.
Of course we want our loved ones and those of our friends and of our countrymen and women to return safe.   But as the public learns more about the illegality, immorality, and massive waste of the US wars, the more urgently do we want our loved ones home and the less we support leaders of the wars.  For several years the public majority has wanted the troops to leave Afghanistan and Iraq.   And as the excuse of “self-defense” for the wars is increasingly found untrustworthy, and as evidence of the subversion of the morality of our troops by war has become more available, even respect for the troops, the imperial instruments of conquest, and the righteousness of the troops in their killing and being killed, .has declined.

A Desperate Defense of Empire
The constant resort to the slogan, “Support the Troops,” reveals its weakness and the desperation of the imperial rulers.   For justifying and continuing US military expansion abroad by appeal for sympathy for the agents of empire, regardless of the brutal, terroristic behavior of some, enlists diminishing conviction.   Repeated expressions of gratitude to warriors for risking their lives to preserve US “freedom” and “safety,” when their risk has little to nothing to do with US freedom or safety but much to do with command of world resources, exposes the illusion of the slogan “support the troops.” 
Ironical Effect:   Empathy
As the validity of the “defense” rationale for war has declined the public has more keenly recognized the humanity of the “enemy” troops in Afghanistan and Iraq whose families and government similarly cry out “support the troops.”     For who are the defenders, who the aggressors?   Who is defending what?  


Dear Mr. Vern Watten,
I appreciate your friendly invitation to contact you regarding plans in Bella Vista to construct a memorial to all U. S. veterans and U. S. wars. My hope is that you will allow me and others the opportunity to present an alternative conception and design.
You would ring and center the monument with the U.S. flag. You would list all the U.S. wars without distinction. You would give the names of all U.S. veterans who buy a brick. Many problems arise from such a plan. For example (and many more issues can be raised):
You stress U.S. nationalism uncritically, our country right or wrong. This, in my view and that of countless other fellow citizens, is an outlook certain to create, not the patriotic unity you apparently expect, but conflict among people with different moral perspectives and different understandings of patriotism.
You suggest apparently that all U.S. wars are defensible, when many have contravened the U.S. Constitution and international treaties.
The present design looks backward to the old human history of wars against other humans and against the environment, to a discredited war/violence system that in the latter half of the twentieth century slaughtered some 30 to 40 million people in wars.
An alternative design could look to a future of peace; it could suggest hope for a time when violence might not prevail, when nations cooperate and share with nations, instead of building armies and weapons of mass destruction. The world has moved in peaceful directions  in many ways--through the Marshall Plan, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, international treaties--and it can, and must, continue in that direction or be destroyed by the nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
I hope you will invite me and others to visit with you and your committee to explain our position more fully, and to offer some preliminary alternative designs. I am enclosing with this letter information about the great memorial to the WWII Battle of Okinawa. It does not glorify Japanese nationalism by displaying Japanese flags, looking backward to its military past. Rather, etched into several hundred large granite slabs are the names of all killed in the battle--all of the Japanese soldiers, all of the U. S. and U.K. soldiers, all of the Okinawan men, women, and children, and all of the Korean laborers, all equal in significance. The Okinawan Cornerstone of Peace is a forward-thinking memorial conceived and designed to help humans imagine a world free from wars. It is inclusive of all nations and peoples, in contrast to the exclusions of nationalistic monuments.
Personally, I am not a pacifist, for I believe our declarations of war against the Japanese and German governments during WWII were necessary. But I think the monument as presently conceived is excessively one-sided, omits two-thirds of the world, and narrowly returns to a past we must try not to repeat if the world is to survive.

I look forward to hearing from you.
James Richard Bennett
2nd Lt., USAF, 1954-56, Honorably Discharged
Member of Veterans for Peace
President, OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology
Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

L. V. Watten

30 Marina Circle S
Bella Vista, AR 72715
Dear Mr. Watten:
I again appeal to you to reconsider your plan to build an extremely nationalistic monument to all U. S. wars, no matter how unjust some of them were. 
I enclose for your consideration:

a petition composed by Mr. Schulte and signed by 17 people in opposition to your plan, unanimously signed at one small event.
A statement by Dave Cline, President of Veterans for Peace.
A review of a new book by Samantha Power
A review of a new book on General Sickles, Medal of Honor Winner and thorough scoundrel and criminal.
These are small fragments immediately at hand for a case that can be made against your plan.  Instead of a monument to commemorate only the U.S.A., typical of war-making nations, how much better it would be to acknowledge the unity of the planet and to invite friendship with the nations of the world.
Yours sincerely,
James R. Bennett
President, OMNI Peace Center

                                                                   June 7, 2002
The Ozark Gazette

Letter to the Editor

Dear Richard Drake:

I am writing to you regarding theVeterans Wall of Honor proposed by the Veterans Council in Bella Vista.  According to the  article by Ron Wood in The Morning News of May 27, the memorial “will have engraved tablets and plaques detailing the events of each [U.S.] war.”  Here is the problem, about which I have twice written to Mr. Vern Watten and the Veterans Council and have received no reply.  Not all U. S. wars have been honorable.  Many have been aggressions in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter, and treaties with other countries (which are U.S. law).  I have explained this to the Veterans Council and have appealed to them not to embarrass themselves and informed veterans, and our nation, by commemorating unjust interventions and invasions. 

Mr. Schindler, the Council’s secretary, claims that it will be “a peaceful memorial.”  But the conception of the memorial is not peaceful.  Rather, it seems to be extremely nationalistic.  That is, it seems to exalt one’s own country above all others, an attitude which in the past has justified illegal actions against other countries.  Nationalism contrasts to patriotism, the love of one’s place or country. The memorial’s single vision is not peaceful, not peacemaking, but is parochial, triumphalist, and could be perceived as arrogant and chauvinistic, with its “23 versions of the American flag.”

 In contrast, in this age of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and of widespread misery, the U.S. should not, and dare not, look out for itself alone, but must find ways to cooperate with other nations, to be a partner among the nations of the world.  The unilateral design of this memorial does not promote but hinders the urgent need for international collaboration.

 I appeal to the Council, as I have already in my two letters to them, to study the history of U. S. interventions and invasions before proceeding further.  William Blum’s books Killing Hope and Rogue State offer an introduction.  I hope then the Council will redesign the memorial for world peace instead of national assertiveness, which has caused so many wars.

Thank you,

Dick Bennett, Director, OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology
2582 Jimmie, Fayetteville, AR 72703 

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