Thursday, January 3, 2013


OMNI WAR RESISTANCE, DISSENT, NEWSLETTER #1, January 3, 2013.  Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace.

My blog:   War Department/Peace Department
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For an informed and resistant citizenry.   See: Berrigans, CIA, : conscientious objection, dissent, dissidents, drones, Fascism, FBI, Gandhi, imperialism, Intelligence Industry Complex, MLKJr.,  National Security State, NSA, nonviolence, nuclear resistance, pacifism, Pentagon, Plowshares, prisons, refusers, war resistance, School of the Americas, Top Secret, war tax resistance, and more.
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See OMNI’s Bulletin “Happening”
See INMOtion OMNI’s monthly newsletter.
Visit OMNI’s Library.

Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To  a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –

Contents #1
Dick’s Peace Movement Directory
War Resisters League
Veterans for Peace
Riegle, Going to Prison for Peace
Howard Zinn
Kent State Protesters Murdered by State
WWII: One Conscientious Objectors’ Camp
Korean War Soldier Dissidents, Film
Iraq and Afghan Wars, Cohn and Gilberd’s Support of Soldier Dissent

North American Organizations, Programs, Museums, and Memorials.  McFarland, 2001.   147 photos, bibliography, index
The year 2000 was proclaimed by the United Nations as the Year of Peace, and the ten years to follow, the Decade of Peace. The UN has issued a Manifesto for a Culture of Peace outlining the goals of the envisioned future. The world may have taken on a hopeful attitude for peace in the new millennium, and this work serves as a reference book to organizations, programs, museums, and memorials located in North America (Mexico, USA, Canada) that are dedicated to peace. The entries are numbered and each one includes the following (where applicable): name of organization, college, museum, memorial or journal; year founded or dedicated; address, phone number, e-mail address and website address; and text that provides historical information.
About the Author
Writer and researcher James Richard Bennett lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
"outstanding…comprehensive…impressive…recommended"--Library Journal
"well-written annotations…detailed index…unique…masterful introduction…well worth [the price]…important"--ARBA


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BPC at Occupy Philly
Brandywine Peace Community, a long-time WRL affiliate, has been throwing their support behind the Occupy movement with "Welcome, Occupy Philly" signs and banners that made the connection between the corporate control of U.S. democracy and the corporate militarism of such war profiteers as Lockheed Martin, the world's #1 war profiteer and Pentagon weapons producer.


Ralph DiGia
Bill Sutherland 1918-2010
Marv Davidov

WIN Fall 2012 coverThis review issue of WINfocuses on some of the peace and justice activists who have inspired entire generations of activists.

The issue features Vijay Prashad's review of Martin Duberman's biography of Howard Zinn, Eric Mann's review of Stephen Vittoria's compelling film about Abu-Jamal.
Rosalie Riegle's review of Shawn Francis Peters’ book The Catonsville Nine and former WIN editor Judith Mahoney Pasternak's review of Riegle’s own book about prisoners of conscience, Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, Community.

Well, sadly, there isn't one.  As many of you have heard by now, we have had to cease publication of our annual peace calendar.  After 58 years, publication and shipping costs for the annual Peace Calendars became too high for us to continue producing our calendar.  We plan a Perpetual Calendar for 2014.  Until then, we have a number of other options, all available from our online store. We've got limited numbers of each of these, so do order now! 
1991 WRL Peace Calendar
A Way of Life: Celebrating Sustained Activism
1991 WRL Peace Calendar

Can't get through 2013 without a WRL Peace Calendar?  Luckily, the days and dates on this 1991 WRL Peace Calendar  mirror the days & dates for 2013.  We just have a few dozen left, so order soon!
SCW 2013 Peace Calendar
Occupy the Future:
The 2013 Syracuse Cultural Workers Peace Calendar

$14.95  Buy online now!

SCW 2013 Women Artists DatebookSyracuse Cultural Workers Women Artists Calendar 2013

Just Seeds Calendar 2013Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative/ Eberhardt Press2013 Organizer


We Have Not Been MovedEdited by Elizabeth “Betita” Martínez, Mandy Carter & Matt Meyer

We Have Not Been Moved looks at the major points of intersection between white supremacy and the war machine through both historic and contemporary articles from a diverse range of scholars and activists. The editors emphasize what needs to be done now to move forward for lasting social change. Produced in collaboration with the War Resisters League, the book also examines the strategic and tactic possibilities of radical transformation through revolutionary nonviolence.
Introduction by Cornel West
Afterwords/poems by Alice Walker & Sonia Sanchez

Buy a copy now on the WRL Online Store

2012 Peace Award:
WRL Honors Suez Port Worker and Labor Leader Asma Mohammed

2012 Peace Award to Asma Mohammed
U.S.-made tear gas has continued to rain down on protesters in Egypt calling for Morsi to reversehis decision as well as on those who filled Mohamed Mahmoud Street to call for justice and accountability for those who were gassed, beaten and murdered there exactly one year ago. Much of the tear gas --- then and now --- was made in Jamestown, Pa., by Combined Systems Incorporated, the same manufacturer whose seven-ton shipment, approved by U.S. government, was refused on November 27, 2011 by Asma Mohammed and her fellow customs workers at the Port of Adabiya in Suez.
The War Resisters League has awarded Asma Mohammed its 2012 Peace Award, given in the past to activists including Bayard Rustin, Bob Moses and Jeanette Rankin. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the first WRL Peace Award event in 1958.

Facing Tear GasFacing Tear Gas is a story-telling project of War Resisters League by and for people that have experienced tear gas all over the world. By making the links between these stories we hope to bring those that profit off of tear gas further into the public consciousness and, along with that, the inspiring movements the gas is used to squelch. This is part of a broader campaign to end the US’s role in the business of tear gas in solidarity with global nonviolent uprisings and those facing US-backed repression everywhere, including within the US.
Check out our new Tumblr:

FY 2013 Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes - Pie Chart Flyer
The War Resisters League's famous "pie chart" flyer analyzes the Federal Fiscal Year 2013 Budget (released in February 2012).

Building Bridges through Revolutionary Nonviolence: Bayard Rustin and the Future of Peace and Freedom2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, and many groups—from the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee and inter-faith Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) to the labor federation AFL-CIO and countless educational institutions — are celebrating this man of humble beginnings.

This slideshow was put together by WRL, for whom Rustin served as Executive Secretary from 1953 to 1965 — including the period when he was chief architect of the historic 1963 March on Washington. The slideshow focuses on this radical bridge-building aspect of Rustin’s life.



Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 22:03:55 -0400

Subject: Federal court denies Kimberly Rivera stay of deportation. We are still fighting!



Kimberly Rivera denied stay of deportation. Our struggle continues.


Dear Friends of War Resisters,

As you may have heard, the Federal Court has denied Kimberly Rivera a stay of removal and leave to appeal. Kim and her family are scheduled to leave Canada tomorrow.

We continue to call on Immigration Minister Jason to stop this injustice. Please continue to call and email Minister Kenney. Urge him to stop this deportation, which will result in a family being torn apart.


Phone: 613-954-1064

Fax: 613-957.2688


If you are as angry about this injustice as we are, please consider responding to an important feature story about the Riveras in the Toronto Star. Letters can be sent to

The War Resisters Support Campaign will continue to fight to keep U.S. Iraq War resisters in Canada. We thank you for your support and we hope you will continue to fight with us.

In solidarity, War Resisters Support Campaign

Join the War Resisters Support Campaign:






Since 1985, VFP has exposed the true costs of war and militarism, urging the public to demand the abolition of war as an instrument of national policy.

 “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.  It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places ”and there are so many” where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future.  The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."  -- Howard Zinn

Mike Woloshin, AMH-2, USN  ATKRON 86, onbd USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)   Vietnam (Yankee Station) 1969-1970

CPL. Joseph E. Powers-Chicago Area Chapter 26

Veterans for Peace, Inc.

National Website:

Chapter Website:

Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Chicago Chapter

National Website:


"Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."  - John Fitzgerald Kennedy


"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."  - Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Prosecutor, Nuremberg Military Tribunal

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."   - Edward R. Murrow

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According to numerous media reports, President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner have discussed cutting $130 Billion in Social Security benefits as part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” budget deal. This is unconscionable. Social Security, which is self-financed and not responsible for one nickel of the national deficit, should not be on the chopping block.
Social Security is what American seniors survive on. As Dean Baker reports, “The median income of people over age 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of the elderly rely on Social Security benefits for more than half of their income and nearly 40 percent rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income. These benefits average less than $15,000 a year.”
Most people don’t have savings to fall back on. Half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings and nearly half of baby boomers are at risk of not having enough savings to pay for basic necessities and health care.
Furthermore, veterans who are on Social Security disability would be among those who would be impacted most by the proposed cuts in Social Security Cost of Living Increases. Balancing the budget on the backs of veterans and seniors is not okay.

Contact Your Congressperson Now!


The proposed budget deal would also cut $100 billion from the military budget. That sounds like a lot, but it's not. Those cuts would come over a 10 year period. That would make it $10 billion a year, right? Wrong. According to VFP member David Swanson, editor of War Is A Crime, “calling it $10 Billion over the first of the 10 years is almost certainly wrong because the point of the 10 years is to load most of the undesirable actions late in the period and never actually get to them. Also, Pentagon 'cuts' are usually from desired budgets, not from what the actual budget was last year.”
In other words, the proposed $100 Billion cut to the Pentagon budget is just another lie. Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon budget has nearly doubled. What are needed are truly deep cuts to military spending, not to the Social Security safety net that many veterans and their families depend upon.
President Obama has already withdrawn our troops from Iraq and should withdraw them immediately from Afghanistan. Even the editors of the New York Times are calling for an accelerated withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. How many billions and how many lives and families would that save?
The Pentagon maintains about 900 military bases around the world,at a cost of $170 Billion per year. Beginning to shut these bases down now would save billions in dollars, lives and environmental damage.
Veterans For Peace is calling for at least a 25% reduction to the actual military budget.

Take Action Now!

·                 Contact your Congressional representatives. Tell them not to approve any deal that cuts Social Security. Tell them to cut the Pentagon's budget by at least 25%.
Here is a toll-free phone line to the capitol: 866-426-2631 .
According to VFP Board member Matt Southworth, a staffer for Friends Committee on National Legislation, “It doesn't take tens of thousands of calls, but literally just dozens to make a difference-- especially calls from vets about cutting the Pentagon budget. You all may be surprised, pleasantly even, by how easy it is to do".
·                 Take It to the Streets, Write Letters to the Editor. This is a great time for veterans to be seen and heard.

VFP President Leah Bolger Occupies the “Super Committee”
A year ago, national VFP President Leah Bolger was arrested telling the Senate “Supercommittee” how to fix the deficit problem. Now the President and Congress are looking to cut programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, yet no one is talking about making serious cuts to the bloated Pentagon. Once again it is time for veterans voices to be heard.

Bruce Gagnon, Veteran member of VFP Chapter 001 in Auburn ME and Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space recent insights on Bringing War Dollars Home was featured on OpEdNews website.
Cost of U.S. Wars Since 2001
See the cost to your community at


Sign the Petition to President Obama and Congress asking for Jobs Not Wars December 4, 2012
Sign the Petition to Ban Weaponized Drones: Plea from Brian Terrell November 30, 2012
Sign the open letter to President Obama and Congress to Call for Support for a Nuclear Free Middle East November 27, 2012
Sign the petition, To Stand With Father RoyNovember 26, 2012
Sign the petition, Preserve 1st Amendment Rightsof drone protestors outside of Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. November 12, 2012
Sign the DU petition: Stop Blocking International Action on Depleted Uranium Weapons! 
November 9, 2012


·                          December 24th, 2012
·                          December 19th, 2012
·                          December 18th, 2012
·                          December 18th, 2012
·                          December 17th, 2012


·                          December 17th, 2012
·                          December 14th, 2012
·                          December 14th, 2012
·                          December 13th, 2012
·                          December 10th, 2012


·                          December 6th, 2012
·                          November 28th, 2012
·                          October 1st, 2012
·                          September 30th, 2012
·                          September 26th, 2012


Mar 22 - Apr 1, 2013 Delegation to Colombia led by Alliance for Global Justice
Aug 7 - 11, 2013- VFP National Convention in Madison, WI
Help VFP As You Shop by Using Links Below


In This Section

·                             We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America
·                             The Pie Chart
·                             Civilian Ally
·                             War Tax Resistance
·                             WRL Peace Calendar
·                             WRI Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns
·                             WRL Posters
o                            WIN Magazine
o                                                WIN Magazine Winter 2012
o                                                WIN Winter 2012
§                                                                     Arab America
§                                                                     Doing Time for Peace
§                                                                     Food & Liquor II
§                                                                     Howard Zinn
§                                                                     Long Distance Revolutionary
§                                                                     The Catonsville Nine
§                                                                     The Housing Monster
§                                                                     The Silenced Majority
§                                                                     WIN Letter
§                                                                     WIN News
§                                                                     WRL Field Report
§                                                                     WRL News
§                                                                     Witness to Guantánamo
§                                                                     Your Letters
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Home » Publications » WIN Magazine » WIN Winter 2012 » Doing Time for Peace

Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community

The Price of Nonviolence
By Judith Mahoney Pasternak

Doing Time for Peace coverDoing Time for Peace:
Resistance, Family, and Community
Edited by Rosalie G. Riegle

2012, Vanderbilt University Press, 
408 pages, $29.95 paperback

This is oral history at its most inspiring, stories of people who have willingly gone to prison for declaring war on war, told in their own words and in the words of their partners, their children, and the members of their communities.

The first of a projected two-volume series on conscientious lawbreakers, Doing Time for Peace includes interviews with the famous — like Voices in the Wilderness co-founder Kathy Kelly and (many) Berrigans — among a larger number of less well-known resisters.
(Rosalie Riegle is a colleague of mine on the National Committee of the War Resisters League, and a number of her interviewees are also friends or colleagues.) There are first-person accounts of refusing to go to war or to register for the draft and of stepping across a line onto the grounds of the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas.

But the book is primarily concerned with those who have done hard time for peace. Riegle and her interviewees distin-guish between protest, even civil disobedience protest, and resistance—between getting arrested at a demonstration and serving a few days in jail, on the one hand, and on the other undertaking actions that result in long prison sentences. By far the largest part of Doing Time for Peace is given to Plowshares (and Plowshares-like) activists: people who have broken into military installations, symbolically disarmed weapons of mass destruction, and served years in prison for their actions. The book is about their actions and what makes those actions possible, the networks that support them, before, during, and after the action. In it, dozens of resisters talk about their motives, their actions, their time in prison. Their family members describe visiting days in prison and life outside, waiting for the sentences to end. Some assess critically the impact — or lack thereof — of their actions on the war machine.

The late Sister Anne Montgomery, RSCJ (Religious of the Sacred Heart) describes the long, serious preparation for the 1980 “Plowshares Eight” action in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the first to use the word “plowshares.” Darla Bradley, who at 22 was one of the youngest Plowshares activists, talks about the sense of powerlessness of being in prison: “They try to break down everyone at some point or other,” she says. Some resisters speak of solidarity with non-political prisoners, and a few, like Kathleen Rumpf of Syracuse, New York, detail the grim conditions prisoners face, including fatal neglect of illnesses. Nor does the cruelty end with a prisoner’s death: “When you die, they shackle you before they put you in a body bag ... for 24 hours, in case you’re faking it.”

As its subtitle implies, a particular focus of Doing Time for Peace is resistance families and communities. An entire chapter is devoted to Catholic Worker communities, and another on com- munities in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, and family is ubiquitous throughout. Indeed, in this book, the family that breaks the law together stays together. Most prominent of these are the Berrigan and Grady families.

Liz McAlister is interviewed, as are all three of her children, Frida, Jerry, and Kate Berrigan. Liz’s late husband Phil Berrigan and his brother, poet/activist/priest Dan Berrigan, make guest appearances, Phil in a lovely short memoir by Frida, Dan with his famous poem about the “fracture of good order,” written at the time of the 1968 Catonsville draft board action. (Editor’s note: See in this issue Riegle’s review of The Catonsville Nine: A Story of Faith and Resistance in the Vietnam Era, page 8.) As to the Gradys, Mary Ann Grady Flores talks in the first chapter about seeing her father in prison when she was 14, after he had committed the last of the Vietnam-era draft board actions. Then in the last chapter, her daughter, Ana Grady Flores, describes organizing (with two cousins, also John Grady’s granddaughters) a die-in at a recruiting station at the age of 16: “The young people have to be the ones to say no,” she says. Other couples also talk about the stresses long imprisonment of one or both partners puts on their relationships, and parents discuss the ways in which their activism was hard for their children.

Finally, a relative few of the resisters look back at their actions and assess their effectiveness. Kim Wahl, of Seattle, who participated in a 1982 Peace Blockade in which small boats attempted to prevent the arrival of Trident nuclear submarines at a naval base, speaks, perhaps for all of them, when she notes sadly that, although she doesn’t regret the action, the Trident “is still there. In spite of it all.”

If anything, the interviewees’ frankness, their willingness to look at the price of their actions and even to question their effectiveness, make Doing Time for Peace more, rather than less, inspiring. These are courageous people, even heroic, yet somehow not so different from the rest of us; their testimony makes us believe that we, too, could commit such acts if the moment required them.

But I have two questions about the book’s focus. In her preface, Riegle declares flatly that her interviewees’ “resistance decisions spring from a Christian or Jewish faith.” The great majority of the people in the book are indeed motivated by religion, the largest number of them by deeply felt Catholic faith, including many nuns and priests.

It’s true that, since the Vietnam War, many of those shaping the very concept of “doing time for peace” have been Catholic— but not all of them, nor have all of them been faith-based activists, and there’s the rub. A substantial number of Riegle’s interviewees, while admitting to having been raised as Catholics or Protestants or Jews, also declare clearly that religion was not what made them resist. “I haven’t identified as a Catholic since puberty,” says Ed Kinane. “There wasn’t a directly religious basis, although I am Jewish,” says Andy Mager, adding, “I grew up thinking that Judaism was hypocritical. (I think much other religion is, too.)” Others, like Robert Wollheim and Brad Lyttle, make no mention at all of religion. Having read Riegle’s unequivocal declaration in the preface, the contradictions are somewhat jarring.

Along with that contradiction is another focus question: With so much of the book given to Plowshares-type actions, other kinds of “doing time for peace” get rather short shrift. The Introduction by Dan McKanan of the Harvard Divinity School attempts to provide a broad historic context for the Plowshares actions, including the resistance of those who refused to serve in two world wars.

But Riegle substantially narrows that context in the first chapter of Doing Time for Peace. “Pre-cursors to the Plowshares Movement” rushes over conscientious objection to World War II and draft refusal during the Vietnam War before getting to the draft board actions (in Catonsville, Maryland, and elsewhere) that were true precursors to the Plowshares actions. Positioning conscientious objection that way almost suggests that its primary importance lies in having inspired the Plowshares, rather than as significant historical resistance in its own right. War tax resistance, with its attendant risks, gets little mention in the book (although there are far more war tax resisters than Plowshares activists), and the actions of the thousands who have served many short sentences for lesser offenses are barely mentioned. Riegle might have been better off looking only at Catholic Plowshares activists, rather than trying to fit other resisters into the same mold — or, of course, making it clear that many but not all of the resisters are faith-motivated, and that not all resistance incurs long sentences. A broader range of resistance might also have diversified the resisters in the book; the Plowshares movement having been virtually all-white, so, with few exceptions, are the people represented here.

That said, however, Doing Time for Peace belongs on every activist’s bookshelf, as an important document of the history of resistance. It’s good for all of us to ponder on the idea that, as Tom Cornell puts it, “[T]here are times when you just have to do what you have to do and say what you have to say. Because it’s true. That’s all. And you do it.” And Frida Berrigan, assessing her father’s life, ends by quoting a favorite song of his by Charlie King: “Count it all joy,” she says. “All of it.”

Paris-based writer, journalist, and former WIN editor Judith Mahoney Pasternak has written for decades about politics, history, popular culture, and the intersections among them.

Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left
Martin Duberman. New Press (Perseus, dist.), Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a radical activist, author of the landmark 1980 bestseller A People’s History of the United States, a bottoms-up chronicle of American injustice, racism, and hypocrisy. Admiring but occasionally critical of Zinn, Duberman (A Saving Remnant), CUNY emeritus professor of history, emphasizes that Zinn’s book made no claim to objectivity and “marked a profound shift away from the tone of triumphalism” that characterized earlier histories. Raised in poverty, Zinn served in WWII, earned a Ph.D. at Columbia, and taught at Spelman, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, from 1956 to 1963, encouraging nascent civil right protests until he was fired for these activities. He moved to Boston University, writing and campaigning until his death. A purely American radical, Zinn had no sympathy with communism or revolution, but often appears cynical, as when he views the Bill of Rights or universal suffrage as mere concessions by the elite to pacify the masses. Duberman’s sympathetic account may lead readers to sympathize with Zinn’s stance that disparaging American freedom for not being expansive enough is preferable to glorifying it uncritically. Reviewed on: 08/06/2012






The Kent State coverup and today's Occupy movement Fri Sep 21, 2012. Posted bymikeferner for VfP

 Kent State: Was It about Civil Rights or Murdering Student Protesters?   When Ohio National Guardsmen fired sixty-seven gun shots in thirteen seconds at Kent State University (KSU) on May 4, 1970, they murdered four unarmed, protesting college students and wounded nine others.

For forty-two years, the United States government has held the position thatKent State was a tragic and unfortunate incident occurring at a noontime antiwar rally on an American college campus.

In 2010, compelling forensic evidence emerged showing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) were the lead agencies in managing Kent State government operations, including the cover-up.

At Kent State, lawful protest was pushed into the realm of massacre as the US federal government, the state of Ohio, and the Ohio National Guard (ONG) executed their plans to silence antiwar protest in America.

Forty-two years later, the Obama administration echoes the original

drone of the US government denying the murder of protesters, pointing only to civil rights lost. When bullets were fired on May 4th at Kent State, US government military action against antiwar protesters on domestic soil changed from a civil rights breach to acts of murder and attempted murder.

As long as American leadership fails to consider killing protesters a

homicidal action and not just about civil rights lost, there is little

safety for American protesters today, leaving the door wide open for

more needless and unnecessary bloodshed and possibly the killing of

American protesters again. This forty-two-year refusal to acknowledge

the death of four students relates to current US government practices

toward protest and protesters in America, as witnessed at Occupy Wall

Street over the past year.



Refusing War, Affirming Peace: The History of Civilian Public Service Camp #21 at Cascade Locks [Paperback]

Jeffrey Kovac (Author)

 October 1, 2009 One of the untold stories of America’s World War II experience belongs to the thousands who refused military service for reasons of conscience, instead serving their country through non-military alternate service. Refusing War, Affirming Peace offers an intimate view of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, Camp #21 at Cascade Locks, Oregon, one of the largest and longest-serving camps in the system— and one of the most unusual. 

Under the leadership of a remarkable director, Rev. Mark Y. Schrock, and some outstanding camp leaders, the men at Camp #21 created a vibrant community. Despite the requisite long days of physical labor, the men developed a strong educational program, published a newspaper and a literary magazine, produced plays and concerts, and participated in a special school and research project called the School of Pacifist Living. They also challenged the Selective Service System in two political protests—one concerning the threatened removal of a Japanese American, George Yamada, and a second concerning a war related work project. Their story shows the CPS system at its best.




They Chose China

The film
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Watch They Chose China online at
·                                 At the CineRobotheque
·                                 At the Mediatheque
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It is January 1954. The Korean War is over. Captured UN soldiers held in POW camps are free to return home. Those who refuse repatriation to their homeland are transferred to a neutral zone and given 90 days to reconsider their decision. Among them are 21 American soldiers who decide defiantly to stay in China.

Back in the United States, McCarthyism is at its height. Many Americans believe these young men have been brainwashed by Chinese communists through a new form of thought control. But what really happened?

Featuring never-before-seen footage from the Chinese camps as well as interviews with former POWs and their families, They Chose China tells the fascinating stories of these forgotten American dissidents.

With the Cold War fading into memory, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Shuibo Wang (Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square) aims his camera on this astonishing story. In They Chose China, we meet and begin to understand a group of courageous men who fought for and then cut ties with the USA.   2005, 52 min 26 s
  • Production Agency National Film Board of Canada
    ARTE France
    13 Production
Silver Chris - Category: Humanities
International Film and Video Festival
November 7 to 12 2006, Columbus - USA
Grand Jury Award
United Nations Association Film Festival
October 25 to 29 2006, Stanford - USA
Platinum Remi Award
WorldFest - International Film Festival
April 21 to May 1 2006, Houston - USA
Golden Gate Award for Best Television Documentary Long Form
Golden Gate Awards Competition & International Film Festival
April 20 to May 4 2006, San Francisco - USA
Juror's Choice Award
Black Maria Film and Video Festival
January 1 to June 1 2006, Jersey CityUSA

[The following rev. by Stephen Lendman is a major analysis not to be missed.  Dick]

Reviewing Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd's Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent, by Stephen Lendman   July 03, 2009

Marjorie Cohn is a Distinguished Law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where she's taught since 1991 and is the current President of the National Lawyers Guild. She's also been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, is an author, and writes many articles for professional journals, other publications, and numerous popular web sites.

Her record of achievements, distinctions, and awards are many and varied - for her teaching, writing, and her work as a lawyer and activist for peace, social and economic justice, and respect for the rule of law. Cohn's previous books include "Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice" and "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law."

Her newest book just out, co-authored with Kathleen Gilberd (a recognized expert on military administrative law), is titled "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent." It explores why US military personnel disobey orders and refuse to participate in two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also explains that US and international law obligate them to do so.

Cohn and Gilberd write:

"Rules of Engagement limit forms of combat, levels of force, and legitimate enemy targets, defining what is legal in warfare and what is not. (They're also) defined by an established body of international (and US) law" that leave no ambiguity.

Nonetheless, in past and current US wars, virtually no "Rules" whatever are followed
. Soldiers are trained to fire at "anything that moves," place no value on enemy lives, and often treat civilians no differently from combatants. It results in massive civilian casualties, dismissively called "collateral damage." It also gets growing numbers in the ranks to resist - to challenge so-called "Rules" they believe are illegal and immoral.

"Rules of Disengagement" "discuss(es) the laws and regulations governing military dissent and resistance - the legal rules of disengagement (and offers) practical guidelines (that include) political protest to requesting discharge from the service."

Today, growing Iraq and Afghanistan casualty counts are enormous as well as the disturbing toll on the GIs involved - including long and repeated deployments, often leaving permanent debilitating effects, physical and/or psychological.

US soldiers have a right and duty to dissent and resist, and today it's easier than ever through all the modern ways of communicating, including blogging, sharing stories, photos, videos, and "developing new ways to speak out to fellow soldiers and civilians online and in the media."

"Rules of Disengagement" goes into courtrooms where military personnel "have spoken out, arguing that (today's) wars are illegal (and immoral) under international (and US) law." It's a "practical guide" providing "specific discussion(s) of applicable regulations and laws" for readers "to form their own conclusions and consider their own options." Above all, it's a way for honorable young men and women to dissent, resist, and disengage from two illegal, immoral wars, in hopes many others will follow their example.

Resisting Illegal Wars

Every US war since WW II has been illegal. Article 51 of the UN Charter only permits the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In addition, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 (the war powers clause) authorizes only both houses of Congress, not the president, to declare war. Nonetheless, that process was followed only five times in our history and last used on December 8, 1941 after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

Yet many judges won't apply "the law to the wars, and then to service members' refusal to take part" in them. They say it's "not their role, not a matter under their jurisdiction, or not 'relevant.' " In case studies the authors use, court-martial judges, juries, and the public increasingly accept these arguments but also recognize that "men and women of conscience have put their futures on the line for their opinions and actions against illegal wars (and) orders."

It hasn't shown up in court-martial decisions except in more lenient sentences, indicating growing respect for those brave enough to resist on matters of conscience and their opinions regarding the law. Pablo Paredes for one.

The Navy petty officer third class and weapons-control technician refused duty on the USS Bonhomme Richard as it deployed to the Persian Gulf on December 6, 2004 to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was charged with unauthorized absence and willfully missing his ship's deployment. On May 10, 2005, Paredes avoided jail and a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge when the court-martial judge dismissed the former charge, convicted him on the latter one, sentenced him to two months restriction, three months of hard labor without confinement, and reduction in rank from E-4 to E-1.

Lt. Cdr. Robert Klant denied expert testimony on the war's illegality, but let Cohn testify as an expert witness, at the sentencing hearing. At its conclusion, Klant astonished attending spectators by saying:

"I believe the government has successfully demonstrated a reasonable belief for every service member to decide that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal to fight in." Paredes benefitted from that view. Others have as well, but not often or easily.

Modern Conscientious Objectors (COs)

They're persons who refuse to perform military service, and request noncombatant status or discharge on grounds of religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs with regard to wars and killing. Objecting on the basis of conscience is 'a long and honorable" tradition going back to the beginning of the republic. It was used frequently during the Vietnam war.

Objectors help others by expanding the right to resist and dissent. Under DOD regulations, "the military must grant CO status to any service member who (consciously opposes all) war(s) in any form, whose opposition is founded on religious training and beliefs, and whose position is sincere and deeply held." This position "must have developed or become central to the CO's beliefs after entry into the military," and applicants must provide "clear and convincing evidence that he or she is a CO."

US Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia was the first Iraq War veteran to refuse further involvement on matters of conscience after serving in it earlier from April - October 2003. Following leave, he failed to rejoin his National Guard unit and filed for discharge as a CO on grounds that the invasion and occupation were illegal and immoral. The Army then charged him with desertion to send a strong message to others who resist.

His May 2004 court-martial was a kangaroo-court show trial, widely broadcast to all military personnel worldwide on internal Pentagon television, radio and newspaper outlets. At trial, the military judge disallowed prepared defense testimony under Army Field Manual 27-10, the Constitution, and established international law.

Mejia was found guilty of desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty. He was sentenced to a year in prison, reduction in rank to E-1, one year's forfeiture of pay, and a bad conduct discharge after which Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, its highest honor.

After the verdict, international law expert Francis Boyle was allowed to testify during the sentencing phase - but under strict limitations imposed by the judge. He cited relevant domestic, international, and military law, reviewed crimes of war and against humanity under them, and explained the culpability of commanders and government officials to the highest levels for abusing and torturing prisoners.

Mejia served nine months in prison and in August 2007 was elected chairman of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Hundreds of others have filed for CO status while many more go AWOL or refuse deployment to combat zones. The military never makes it easy, yet the illegitimacy of two illegal wars and the immense hardships on young GIs and their families makes growing numbers resist and dissent. Still many others aren't aware that they qualify for CO status.

Current CO stereotypes stem from the Vietnam era when they were viewed as subversives and cowards. Other myths are that wars must be ongoing for those in the military to apply, the process is lengthy, discharges, if granted, won't be honorable, and federal benefits will be lost as well as eligibility for government jobs. "Needless to say, these myths are not true," but exist to discourage applicants and impede the process.

Various civilian organizations provide good information on CO rights, regulations on them, and procedures on how to apply. Also, the "CO process is one of the most legally protected of discharge proceedings - COs have greater rights than those who seek discharge for family hardship or similar reasons." Yet command hostility exists and rights are often denied. "Success rates vary among the services." Some COs are discharged for other reasons. Many applications are rejected. Some go AWOL as a result, and others do or don't succeed through court intervention. Imperial America doesn't make it easy, so applicants have to persist all the harder.

Winter Soldier

Iraq and Afghan veterans willing to come forward provide the most compelling evidence of "war crimes beyond imagination." Yet those familiar with Vietnam, WW II, and other US wars have heard it before. John Dower's powerful WW II book, "War Without Mercy," documented how both sides in the Pacific war depersonalized the opposition, abandoned the rules of war, and fought with equal savagery.

Later examples include:

-- Winter Soldier 1971 - the Vietnam My Lai massacre killing around 500 civilians was a mere skirmish compared to death squad campaigns like Operation Phoenix that contributed to an estimated 80,000 deaths from around 1968 - 1971. Numerous other stories documented mass murder, torture, rape and other atrocities - the same kinds committed earlier and today;

-- Winter Soldier 2008 - "traumatized" veterans today tell similar horrors stories to ones from past wars, including Vietnam, Korea, and WW II; Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) offer testimonies as ammunition for their three unifying principles:

(1) immediately ending the Iraq and Afghan wars and occupations and withdrawing all troops;

(2) paying reparations to Iraqis; and

(3) providing proper medical care for all US war veterans.

Short of these, all imaginable atrocities will continue, including mass killings, torture, rape, destruction, and much more. Wars are ugly business, and laws or no laws, the worst of abuses happen routinely by a military command teaching rank and file soldiers to commit them with impunity. And they're besides the harm done to GIs, many of whom are never the same from the experience - if they survive. Vietnam destroyed an entire generation of American youths, and today's wars are doing it again.

The rules of engagement are stipulated in various laws of war - the Constitution, Hague and Geneva Conventions; UN Charter; Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Supreme and lower Court decisions; US Army Field Manual 27-10; and the Law of Land Warfare (1956). They state that nations must abide by the laws of war. No exceptions are ever allowed, and failure comply constitutes a crime of war and/or against humanity.

At the Nuremberg Tribunal, chief US prosecutor Robert Jackson cited wars of aggression as the "supreme international crime against peace differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Yet this standard indicts America on all its wars since WW II.

And young GIs are affected. Winter Soldiers 2008 say "they were subject to amorphous and contradictory rules of engagement - often free-fire zones where they could shoot at anything that moved (including noncombatants). These rules, or lack thereof, led to the commission of atrocities and war crimes," not occasionally but often.

Aside from the 2001 Afghanistan bombings and March 2003 "shock and awe" attack, the worst of them took place in April and November 2004. In retaliation for the killing and mutilation of four Blackwater mercenaries, the first and second Fallujah Battles waged some of the fiercest urban combat since the 1968 Battle of Hue in Vietnam. Several thousand or more were killed, mostly civilians. Major war crimes were committed. Illegal weapons were used. Vast destruction was inflicted. The city was held under siege. Free-fire zone rules applied. A "shoot-to-kill" curfew was imposed, and according to Adam Kokesh: "we changed our rules of engagement more often than we changed our underwear."

Winter Soldiers 2008 speak out publicly over what they saw and did in their tours, including in testimonies to Congress. "So far (none of them) have been prosecuted for their testimony, though some active duty witnesses were harassed by superiors."

Dissent and Disengagement

Resistance includes refusing illegal orders, objecting on the basis of conscience, requesting a discharge, demonstrating, picketing, dissenting as the Constitution allows, attending rallies, petitioning Congress, going underground, taking refuge abroad, speaking out publicly, and through the media. It's acting according to one's principles and morality and not backing down when the going gets tough.

Lt. Ehren Watada's case is instructive. In June 2006, he refused to deploy to Iraq and publicly said why - that "as an officer of honor and integrity, (he could not participate in a war that was) manifestly illegal....morally wrong (and) a horrible breach of American law." He became the first US military officer to face court-martial for his action and was charged with:

-- one specification under UCMJ article 87 - missing movement;

-- two specifications under article 99 - contempt toward officials (for making public comments about George Bush); and

-- three specifications under article 133 for conduct unbecoming an officer.

If convicted on all charges, he faced possible dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and seven years in prison. A military equivalent of a grand jury convened on August 17, 2006 to review the charges and rule on their justification. Watada called three expert witnesses in his defense:

-- former UN Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator (1997 - 1998) Denis Halliday who resigned under protest because he was "instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide (and already) killed well over one million individuals, children and adults;"

-- US Army Colonel Ann Wright who resigned her commission as a State Department foreign service officer in March 2003 to protest a "war of aggression (in) violat(ion) of international law;" and

-- Professor Francis Boyle, international law and human rights expert, activist, and author of numerous books, papers, and articles on these topics.

On August 22, the Army reported on the proceeding and recommended all charges be referred to a general court-martial. It began in February 2007 under very constricted rules - denying a First Amendment defense, disallowing one's questioning the legality of the war, and refusing to allow expert testimony, including from Cohn.

However, legal issues couldn't be excluded as they directly related to charges brought, so the prosecution introduced them at trial. In addition, Watada firmly stated before testifying that he refused to deploy because of the war's illegality.

Unable to stop him from saying this, judge John Head declared a mistrial. He'd lost control of the proceeding, knew Watada was on solid ground, and had to prevent his evidence from being introduced to avoid the embarrassing possibility of an acquittal on one or all charges. If it happened, the war's illegality would be exposed and its continuation jeopardized.

Under the Fifth Amendment's "double jeopardy" clause, Watada can't be retried on the same charges. It states no person shall be "subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." Watada's triumph by mistrial was a powerful tribute to his convictions and spirit. It's also an inspiration to civil resisters and all members of the military to follow in his footsteps.

On October 22, 2008, US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle agreed with Watada's double jeopardy claim and dismissed three of the five counts against him. In mid-May, beyond the timeline of Cohn and Gilberd's book, the Department of Justice dropped plans to retry him on two remaining counts, but his legal problems continue as the Army is still weighing further action. Fort Lewis spokesman Joe Piek said the base's leadership is considering "a full range of judicial and administrative options that are available, and those range from court-martial on those two remaining specifications, to nonjudicial punishment, to administrative separation from the Army."

If they can't win one way, they may keep harassing Watada and make him pay by attrition. Millions of war resisting Americans may have other ideas, and organizations like Project Safe Haven, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War are united with others in demanding an end to Watada's persecution as well as two illegal wars and occupations.

They also support "high-visilbility demonstrations, protests and street theater," along with the right to resist and dissent. The law supports them "to speak out on a broad range of issues" using all means of technology to do it. Military regulations also "can be powerful weapons for service members who choose to dissent."

DOD Directive 1325.6 Guidelines for Handling Dissent and Protest Activities among Members of the Armed Forces describes basic rights for "dissident and protest activities" with guidelines pertaining to:

-- possession and distribution of printed materials;

-- off-base locations allowed;

-- publishing underground newspapers and materials;

-- off-base demonstrations and protests; and

-- rules for military personnel participation.

Resisters have the law and regulations on their side if they conform to their provisions therein - "consistent with good order and discipline and the national security." But going up against the Pentagon and Department of Justice is never easy, and even winning exacts a great toll.

But fundamentally, "GIs do in fact have the right to express their opposition to the wars verbally and in writing, share that position with the media, state it on the Internet, distribute it to other GIs in newspapers or leaflets, say it from the microphone at national antiwar rallies, and show it by marching in off-base antiwar demonstrations and picket lines" - as long as they're off-duty, off-base, and out of uniform.

Imperfect as it is and getting worse, it's still America, and growing numbers of GIs, their families and friends are resisting two illegal wars and occupations, demanding they end, and the nation returned peace. Those goals are worth everyone's time to fight for, and it's high time more among us did it..

Challenging Racism

For many decades, young recruits are taught to kill by portraying enemies as subhuman. So the Japanese were called "Japs" and portrayed in cartoons as apes or savage gorillas; North Koreans, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were called "gooks;" and Arabs are called "rag-heads," "camel jockeys" and "sand niggers." As a result, extreme racism is a pervasive problem in the military. But it's a proved effective way to motivate soldiers to fight and kill by viewing Westerners as superior to nonwhite enemies globally.

Many Winter Soldiers (2008) "discussed the pervasiveness of racist behavior," admitted using racial epithets, and "engag(ing) in brutality that dehumanized Iraqis and Afghanis." However Vietnam-era history "shows that organizing and protests by African American, Latino, and other minority GIs (with support from other service members)" offer the best chance of achieving real change. But success depends on ending the Pentagon's proven way to teach young recruits to kill, so getting the top brass to abandon it won't be easy.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Military

Teaching recruits "sexism and sexual imagery" works the same way as indoctrinating racism. Soldiers are taught to equate "strength and discipline in combat (to) sexual prowess," military violence to the sexual kind, and "disobedience, nonconformity, or weakness as feminine."

Today, sexism is so embedded in military culture that female soldiers pay the price. They're discriminated against in training, assignments, promotion, much else, and are frequent victims of harassment and sexual assault - the former through "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors," and other similar behavior; the latter includes "rape and other forcible or unwanted sexual contact...."

In a male-dominated military, this behavior is embedded, ritualized, and symbolic of male power. The highly-publicized September 1991 Tailhook incident is a prominent example but a rare one that made headlines. It involved a group of Naval aviators sexually assaulting 26 women at one of their annual gatherings. They cornered and surrounded them, passed them down a gauntlet, jeered, taunted, grabbed, fondled, and tried to strip them.

Similar incidents are all too common, and for years top brass knew of and tolerated them. They have documented evidence that half or more of women in all branches have been victims of sexual harassment or assault. It shows a profound contempt many military men (including top brass) have for women in the ranks, at the enlisted and officer levels.

Complaints, studies, hearings and regulations do little to halt these practices. Reports surface often about harassment, assaults, rape and other demeaning behavior in basic training, the service academies, duty assignments of all kinds, and in combat. The military today is no safer for women than it ever was. It never will be unless the Pentagon changes its ideology, how it trains GIs, and if it's willing to impose stiff penalties to offenders.

The Medical Side of War

The state of the military's health care system is deplorable. Pressed to fund and fill the ranks for two illegal and unpopular wars, Congress and the Pentagon pay scant attention to the injured, sick, and psychologically damaged. It's further testimony to a nation defiling its principles - ones observed only rhetorically, hardly ever in practice, and not at all once the usefulness of combatants is over.

The Iraq and Afghan wars have produced an epidemic of psychological wounds that for many end up permanent. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is frighteningly common, yet care delivered is minimal, inadequate, and dismissive of a major problem afflicting many tens of thousands of returning vets.

Others from the Vietnam era retained their scars, and it's happening again today. Many couldn't find work then or now, abused their spouses, and too often ended up homeless or committed suicide (before or after coming home). An uncaring nation didn't notice nor does it today. The real crime is that the Pentagon and Congress are well versed on these problems, yet do little to address them. Only unbridled militarism, advancing imperialism, filling the ranks, funding numerous weapons systems and munitions, and enriching war-profiteers matter.

The result for hundreds of thousands returning from past and current wars is untreated medical needs, an uncertain future, and the knowledge that the nation they fought for doesn't care when they're no longer needed. Vietnam vets know it, and so do ones today from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Without a draft, the military needs volunteers to fill the ranks. The result is the stop-loss practice of involuntarily extending enlistment terms and frequent redeployments, even for those with serious physical or psychological injuries.

The Pentagon denied the affects of Agent Orange in Vietnam and the existence of Gulf War Syndrome from the first Iraq war. In 1990 - 91 and now, its likely cause was the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU), the proliferation of other toxic substances, and the illegal use of dangerous vaccines in violation of the Nuremberg Code on medical experimentation. No rules apply in our war fighting, nor does the health and welfare of our recruited men and women matter - enlisted to be used, then discarded when their service ends. It's especially evident in the "medical side of war" when those most in need are largely ignored and forgotten.

How the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles disability claims highlights a problem reaching epidemic levels. In early May 2009, the Veterans Benefits Administration and Board of Veterans Appeals at VA had a backlog of 915,000 claims, and their rate is growing so fast it may now be approaching or past one million and climbing.

Things are so bad for returning vets that most face an average six month wait for benefits and up to four years to have their appeals heard when they're denied - which is often. It's in addition to the shameful treatment GIs get for their health needs - many serious and requiring extensive, expensive treatment, often not gotten from an uncaring nation.


Many GIs become disillusioned when they learn promises made are hollow. Some seek early discharges that can be gotten honorably but not easily most often with the nation at war on two fronts and needing all the troops it can get. Still numerous reasons qualify for an Expiration of Active Obligated Service (EAOS), including CO status, disability and illness.

Others include:

-- family hardship or dependency factors;

-- parenthood for single parents or in cases where husbands and wives are in the military;

-- pregnancy or childbirth;

-- inadequate performance or conduct during the first six months of training;

-- qualification under the "don't ask, don't tell" for gays and lesbians;

-- specific personality disorders;

-- other physical or psychological factors that don't qualify for medical discharges;

-- erroneous enlistments, including contract violations and recruiter fraud;

-- alien status; especially relevant at a time undocumented Latinos (mainly Mexicans) are recruited with promises (then broken) of a green card for them and their family as well as free education, medical care, and post-service employment;

-- being a sole surviving family member;

-- unsatisfactorily performing duties;

-- "separation from the Delayed Entry Program (DEP)" that entraps "youths still in school or the Delayed Training Program (DTP)" for enlistment in the reserves; and

-- less than honorable discharges for misconduct, drug abuse, court-martial, and other undesirable factors.

Other administrative discharges are also available, all honorable, including "general" ones under honorable conditions. But recruits get little information during training. Those requesting them are told discharges are impossible, so to get the facts civilian sources must be consulted. It takes time, and following proper procedures is essential. But the payoff is worth the trouble for those willing to do it and counseling is available to help.

A GI Rights Network has a toll-free hotline, and there are other organizations as well. They're in it "for the long haul" to instruct today's military how to exit honorably from two illegal wars and avoid the risk of death or disabling injuries.

The Families

America's wars harm families as well as GIs. They must cope with the same problems of long, repeated deployments, possible death or permanent impairment, and the lasting affects of war-related trauma that afflict even those visibly or otherwise unscathed.

Some families go public against the Iraq and Afghan wars, recruiter lies and misconduct that entrap their loved ones, and as civilians they're free to speak publicly with no restrictions on what they may say.

Gold star mothers spoke out against the Vietnam War, and today Cindy Sheehan (whose son Casey was killed in Iraq five days after he arrived) and other parents who lost sons and daughters founded Gold Star Families for Peace. They say honor our lost loved ones by ending these illegal wars and occupations, stop invading other countries, and return the nation to peace.

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is the largest organization of its kind against the Iraq war with chapters in 29 states. They support their loved ones, demonstrate, speak out publicly, and lobby Congress the way some of their members did earlier against the Vietnam war. "These courageous families....endure unspeakable suffering....join together to support one to end the war....(and represent) the power of collection action."

They're "a powerful force in the effort to end these wars. They can tell the truth to counter recruiters' deceptions." They can effectively represent their loved ones and help others through a common effort to free us all from the scourge of war.


America's Iraq and Afghan wars are illegal and immoral. Every service member is obligated by law to disengage, resist, and refuse any longer to participate. US and international laws support them, and as Ehren Watada stated in his defense: "An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq."

Increasing numbers of others are deployed as part of America's permanent war and occupation agenda - continuing no differently under Obama than George Bush. To know what's planned for Iraq, Afghanistan and future US targets, think Korea. US forces arrived in 1950 and never left. Think Japan as well. They've been there as well since WW II, on the mainland and choicest real estate of the country's southern-most and poorest prefecture - Okinawa.

Further, since the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, America has had no enemies anywhere - except those invented to advance a global imperial agenda at the expense of our nation's youths and their families, other loved ones, and friends at home. Wars guarantee new ones and a permanent cycle of violence, death and destruction, the only winners being profiteers who benefit hugely.

As a result, growing numbers of GIs, veterans, families, and the general public are opting to "disengage" and resist. Together they represent power enough to impact "whether or not the United States is able to carry out these and future wars of aggression."

Most Americans oppose the Iraq war and its continued toll on GIs and their families. It's just a matter of time until opposition to Afghanistan is as great and with luck whatever new conflicts the administration plans. Those sent to fight them and their families end up losers. Their choice is clear and unequivocal - absolutely refuse any longer to participate and with enough sharing that view, they'll end. With overwhelming homeland needs unmet at a time of grave economic crisis, honor and necessity must dictate our future course. It's up to mass public activism to demand it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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