Sgt. Ricky Clousing - AWOL for 18 months - turns himself in.
Sergeant Ricky Clousing gave a press conference
at the national Veterans for Peace convention held this year in Seattle, Washington and announced he would turn himself in
today at Fort Lewis, WA.
He served in Iraq as a US Army Interrogator. He has been absent
from his unit for over a year.
Clousing spoke of the circumstances that led to his decision to
leave his unit upon completion of his tour in Iraq. He talked about what he calls "the abuse of power which goes without accountability".
On the 2,000th US Death
in Iraq By Fernando Suarez del Solar (MFSO member) t r u
t h o u t | Letter
Wednesday 26 October 2005
Yesterday, October 25, 2005, the toll of US fatalities
in Iraq reached the significant number of 2,000. On March 27, 2003, just seven days after the illegal occupation of Iraq began,
the fifth US casualty (and the second Latino) fell - my son Jesús Alberto Suarez del Solar Navarro. Now, two years and seven
months later, we have reached 2,000. 2,000 young people, each with a dream, each with enormous potential, each manipulated
and deceived for immoral reasons by the group of powerful men who dragged us into a criminal war. 2000 families destroyed,
4000 parents devastated, with their most precious treasure - their children - torn from them. And who cares? Who cares about
these young people who are dying? Only the families care, it seems, since Bush's criminal government continues with its rhetoric
about how Iraq is better off and how we will not leave until the mission is completed. What mission? The personal agenda of
a ruling clique, because clearly there is no humanitarian mission in Iraq. When I learned that we had reached the awful figure
of 2,000, I wept. I wept because the pain of knowing that another young American had died reminded me of my own tragedy and
my own pain. I thought about his parents, his mother who must feel the ache in her soul knowing that her son died in an unnecessary
war, and his father who, like me, was proud of his son and of his nation. And unexpectedly his nation betrayed him, and his
son was gone.
I do not know if Bush in his self absorption and his
feigned Christianity understands the tremendous suffering he is causing - the families' anguish, the harm to our nation that
he has placed in even greater danger. But I am sure about one thing. Bush will receive his punishment, a punishment that will
make him cry tears of blood as my family and 1999 other families are shedding as they remember their lost children.
How much more blood will it take to end this criminal
war? How many more Iraqi children have to die? How many more brave young Americans will have to make the ultimate sacrifice?
How many more parents will have to weep for their sons and daughters? Who can answer me? Who?
We must demand that the lies and the dying stop today.
End the occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home
End the occupation of Iraq. Bring our troops home
Fernando Suarez del Solar, father of Jesus Suarez
There is pain in my soul this morning as I sit at this keyboard. It is an
all-encompassing feeling that reverberates through my whole body. This is a pain that I cannot ignore and will not go away.
Sometime this week, maybe even today (ed. note: it happened today), the war in Iraq will claim the 2000th life of an American soldier killed in the line of duty. Let me repeat that last
sentence in a more humanistic way: 2000 of America's sons and daughters have died in Iraq in the war. 2000 warriors have died,
have been brought home in flag-draped caskets that most of this country will never see. 2000 families have had their lives
forever changed and their hearts forever broken. 2000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives either have
or will bury their hearts when they bury their hero.
No matter what the politics are of each person in this country, whether we
agree with George Bush, et al., or are a peacekeeper, we must recognize that these warriors gave their all for our country.
Many believed they were fighting for freedom and democracy because that's what their Commander in Chief told them. That is
what their leaders told them. They gave their lives willingly for their country and we must honor their sacrifice.
In a day and a time when death and war is sanitized by the media and our government,
we must press on and make them understand that death and war has a human face and a human cost. Our warriors, the sons and
daughters of America, are not faceless numbers and statistics. Our heroes are not expendable. Their lives have meaning, their
memories are worth keeping alive. Their tragic deaths must be remembered.
Today I honor and I remember my only son, Sgt. Jeremy Russell Smith, who died
at the age of 22 on February 13, 2004. Jeremy was a student at ITT when he was called to serve his country full time. By now
he would have been finished with his education and would be working with his second love, computers. In my home I have two
computers that Jeremy built himself from the ground up. Jeremy’s first love was the Army where he learned the meaning
of the words Honor, Duty and Country. I will forever miss Jeremy’s goofy smile that he tried to hide. Never again will
I hear Jeremy's voice as he calls out "Hello, Mother!" as he walks into the room. Only in my dreams will I ever touch his
face again. My son will never marry and he will never have children of his own for me to spoil rotten.
Cindy Sheehan tells me what she misses about her son, Casey, "I miss CASEY.
I miss when he would call me from Ft. Hood and say "Hi, Mom". I miss going to the movies with him. I miss his steady presence
on the earth. I miss my big boy, my best friend."
From Jane Bright, whose son, Evan, died in this ugly war: "Evan was a future
leader, a loving and giving son, husband, brother, nephew and grandson. He was one of the best and the brightest. He was a
classical pianist, a gifted student, and one of the sweetest men I have ever known. I am blessed to have him as my son. He
will always be with us, in our hearts, guiding us through difficult times as he did the soldiers who looked up to him. We
don’t know why he had to die for Bush's lies. As Cindy says, 'for what noble cause did our children die?'"
Please, do not let our heroes become faceless, expendable statistics in the
history books. We must remember them, honor them, respect them. For those of us who loved them with every fiber of our being,
do not let their sacrifice be for nothing. The citizens of our country owe them that. The leaders of our country who sent
them to die in a foreign country, far away from those they loved, owe them that.
Amy Branham Houston, TX Mother of Sgt. Jeremy R. Smith Nov. 1981
- Feb. 2004
by Justin Raimondo The massive antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C.,
over the weekend – with attendance estimates ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 – dramatized what the pollsters already
know: the Iraq war is hugely unpopular, and public opposition is increasing by leaps and bounds. The significance of the Sept.
24 march is that the antiwar majority is finally making itself heard.
A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows 67 percent disapproving of Bush's
"stay the course" policy, up nearly 10 points since the last poll taken in the beginning of September. Half believe Iraq will
never become a stable democracy – and, by implication, that we'll be there forever, if George W. Bush and his bipartisan
enablers have their way. Sixty-five percent think we're spending too much on Iraq, and when it comes to policy alternatives
– increasing troops, keeping the number steady, decreasing the U.S. troop presence, or getting out altogether –
the results are, respectively, 8, 26, 33, and 30 percent. According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, half say the invasion
was a mistake.
The NYT/CBS poll breaks responses down along party lines, and the results
are pretty astounding:
Republicans who want to increase the troops level: 12 percent – Democrats,
8 percent. The super hawks are (1) a tiny minority, and (2) not noticeably partisan one way or the other.
Republicans who want troop levels to remain the same: 41 percent – Democrats,
15 percent. This shows how out of touch with their base the Democrats are: most Democratic members of Congress would take
the majority Republican position.
Republicans who want to decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq: 29 percent
– Democrats, 29 percent.
So it isn't a partisan issue. Sure, there are plenty of stay-the-coursers
in GOP ranks who reflexively support the president, but a significant number want to begin the process of withdrawal. This
is pretty much the same position as taken by Rep. Walter B. Jones, a Republican member of Congress from a district in North
Carolina that has at least four military bases. Rep. Jones, you'll remember, led the effort to rename French fries "Freedom
Fries" on the Capitol cafeteria menu because Paris didn't sign on to the invasion of Iraq. Jones has now turned against the
war and is co-sponsoring a resolution – "Homeward Bound" – that would begin withdrawing our troops starting in
Republicans who want to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq right now: 11 percent
– Democrats, 45 percent. Here we have the biggest partisan gap, but still the number of "out now" Republicans is surprising.
The amazing fact of the matter is that a full 40 percent of Republicans either want to begin withdrawing or want out altogether
right now. The antiwar movement may not know it yet, but Republicans are probably their fastest-growing constituency. Ralph
Nader, practically alone among the speakers at the Washington rally, noted this, praising Rep. Jones and making the point
that this war is hardly "conservative" in any meaningful sense of the term.
The country has turned decisively against the war. We have reached a tipping
point, as I wrote last month, and the rising tide of antiwar sentiment shows no sign of cresting. The water is coming over
the levees, but in Washington, D.C., they are oblivious. With gerrymandered congressional districts designed to protect incumbents
from the threat of any real electoral challenge, and plenty of money pouring into their coffers from lobbyists foreign and
domestic, the War Party rules the roost in the Imperial City, and they think they can afford to ignore the occasional invasion
by the antiwar majority.
"There are a lot of people here who are wondering, where are the Democrats?"
said Tom Andrews, the director of the Hollywood-centric "Win Without War." This past weekend, the entire Democratic Party
leadership fled town, including party chairman Howard Dean – once the Great White Hope of Democratic war critics –
Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and even Russ Feingold, who is positioning himself as the "antiwar" presidential candidate. Knight-Ridder
reports the Democrats are "wary" of the antiwar movement, as well they might be considering that it was Bill Clinton who signed
the Iraq Liberation Act – the legislation that originally authorized action to effect "regime change" in Baghdad –
with the enthusiastic support of top Democrats.
"The Democratic Party has an identity crisis on this issue," Andrews, a former
Democratic congressman from Maine, tells us. "We need voices. We need leadership. But fear is driving them."
Fear – of what, or of whom?
It can't be the voters they fear – because the majority, as polls show,
would back some variant of an antiwar stance.
It can't be fear of their Democratic Party base, because, as these same polls
show, most Democrats want out now.
And it can't be the wrath of the mainstream media, which has given sympathetic
albeit tardy coverage to the growing antiwar movement.
It is fear of not being considered "serious," of not being the recipient of
fat donations from foreign-connected lobbyists, and fear of retribution from the party leadership – Democrat, as well
as Republican – that keeps Congress in line. What is operating, here, is the iron rule of the elites, in government
and in the leadership of the two "major" parties – who have deemed all talk of withdrawal as "unrealistic." This is
what dictates the bipartisan line in Washington, which is that we are in Iraq to stay.
A recent military appropriations bill authorized spending for the construction
of permanent bases in Iraq, and the Democratic leadership voted for it. Indeed, if anything, the Democrats want to spend more
money on "nation-building" than the Republicans, and are ready and willing to hike taxes in order to do it. This, mind you,
would be awfully unpopular, among grassroots Democrats as well as Republicans: 77 percent of all Americans would disapprove
of having to pay more in taxes in order to pay for the Iraq war, according to the NYT/CBS poll, while 55 percent don't want
to give up recent tax cuts to foot the bill.
We can't depend on the mis-leadership of the Democratic Party to get us out
of the quagmire. They were in on the Iraq disaster from the beginning, with the Democratic Leadership Council consistently
hewing to a hard line, and the Democratic party neocons generally riding roughshod over pro-peace grassroots activists. The
convention that nominated John Kerry was a display of unabashed militarism and me-tooism, during which anyone caught with
antiwar signs or even buttons was summarily kicked out the door (as happened to Medea Benjamin).
There are signs the antiwar movement is waking up to the Democrats' perfidy,
with Cindy Sheehan going after Hillary on account of the New York senator's support for the war (which Ms. Clinton describes
as "a noble cause"). Far from advocating withdrawal, Senator Clinton has more than once suggested we need to send in more
troops. At the San Francisco demonstration, as I noted on the Antiwar.com blog, an entire contingent organized by Code Pink
drew attention to Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi's consistent support for war funding and other measures that would
prolong our presence in Iraq. Awareness is growing, but we need more than that. We need action.
If we now have an antiwar majority in this country, then how is the pro-war
minority able to carry it off? Glad you asked. The answer illuminates the mystery of how we got into this mess in the first
Remember that this war was the project of a very small and determined minority,
the neoconservatives, who, over a decade of dedicated activity – including the long, slow "march through the institutions"
of the GOP and the Washington national security bureaucracy – managed to pull off what Colin Powell (via Bob Woodward)
characterized as a de facto coup d'etat. They hijacked American foreign policy and the U.S. government along with it. These
characters started out, many of them, in the Democratic Party as supporters of the Henry "Scoop" Jackson wing, itching for
a military confrontation with the Soviet Union. It was only later – when the Democrats rejected them in the 1970s –
that the neocons switched to the Republicans, and they still have their foot in both camps: Marshall Wittmann, a former adviser
to the Christian Coalition – and a youthful member of the Young Peoples Socialist League – is now a big wheel
at the DLC, along with his belligerently pro-war colleagues at the Progressive Policy Institute, the DLC's thinktank.
To the neocons, George W. Bush is showing troubling sounds of going wobbly,
and people like Wittmann are constantly attacking the president from a more-warmongering-than-thou perspective. If Bush does
what Pat Buchanan and Bob Novak predicted a few months ago and starts withdrawing our forces from Iraq, you can bet the Democrats
will criticize him for being a "cut-and-run Republican."
That's how the elite consensus is enforced and maintained: a dynamic tension
is created by a two-party pact, ensuring the continuation of a policy that is not only wrong but also a proven failure. Everyone
agrees to bow to the naked Emperor and sagely remark on the nobility of his raiment.
There's just one major problem with this "Emperor's New Clothes" strategy.
Some day, the naked reality of what we have done in Iraq will be brought home even to our blinkered representatives in Washington
in a manner both definitive and dramatic. On that day, the stampede will begin, with leaders of both parties straining to
distance themselves from disaster.
"Victory has a thousand fathers," said John F. Kennedy, "but defeat is an
orphan." Democratic bigwigs think they can ride out the antiwar upsurge and go after the president on purely domestic issues.
A Democratic administration will inherit the Iraq-mire, and they don't want to undermine their position in advance.
After all, if they take the White House, it will suddenly be their war, and
the "national security Democrats" will step forward to prosecute it their way – more "effectively," perhaps more ferociously.
The dynamic tension that holds the Washington foreign policy elite in thrall
and maintains doctrinal rigidity is nowhere near breaking: in spite of growing popular outrage at the heinous costs of this
war, both moral and material, the war lords of Washington are defying public opinion and "staying the course." Some, like
Democratic House minority leader Pelosi, are even seeking to expand the war by co-sponsoring (with Senator Rick Santorum and
the ultra-hawkish Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) the Iran Liberation Act – a carbon copy of the Iraq Liberation Act that is little
more than a legislative blueprint for war with Tehran.
The neocons of both parties are experts at working the bureaucracy and manipulating
the machinery of government and the two parties in order to push their agenda over and above the will of a largely uninformed
majority. That's how they got us into Iraq in the first place, and that's how they intend to keep us there. Yet they are far
from being all-powerful: there are several chinks in their armor, and among them are the checks and balances the Founders
wrote into the U.S. Constitution. They cannot seize power for any length of time without the Congress of the United States,
which must fund, approve, and oversee the foreign policy pursued by this president and his appointees. They can withhold the
money and their approval: they can also see to it that the entire story of the Iraq debacle – down to the embarrassing
details – is exposed to public view.
Saturday's march on Washington was a gigantic step forward in the campaign
to focus public attention on the moral and practical necessity of a quick exit from Iraq. Now we must turn to the more meticulous
and far less dramatic task of lobbying our representatives in Congress to take action to end the war. Even less glamorous
is the job of educating the American public about how and why we must get out now, before we get dragged into a conflict with
Syria, Lebanon (against Hezbollah), or even Iran. The antiwar movement must devote more of its resources to lobbying legislators
and directing the ire of citizens increasingly opposed to "staying the course" directly into the phone lines and mailrooms
of Capitol Hill.
Through a combination of cajoling, threats, and nasty primary challenges,
critics of our interventionist foreign policy in both parties can put pressure on Congress to stop funding and start questioning
this rotten war. Such a campaign requires not only money, and plenty of it, but also organization – and a strategic
orientation centered around concrete results, rather than sermonizing or cheap partisanship. That's why the multi-issue approach
of the ANSWER crowd is so damaging to the antiwar movement. What is required is nothing less than an all-out effort to stop
this war before it metastasizes into a regional conflict. The more perfervid neocons are looking forward to what they call
"World War IV." At this juncture, the sense that this is an emergency should inform the antiwar movement's strategists and
dictate their every action. Yes, public opinion is moving in our direction, but time is not on our side. How long before a
border incident with Syria or Iran extends the war into new territory?
Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We must redouble our efforts around
a single issue of overriding importance: stopping this war before it spreads. As one of the more shameless warmongers among
the neocons often exhorts the president: Faster, please.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Antiwar protesters weren't the only ones taking to the streets of Washington
this past weekend. The largely overlooked pro-war movement crawled out of the closet, and it was truly a pathetic sight to
While operating most effectively undercover, whispering into the ear of the
ruler and passing brazen lies off as "intelligence," at times the necessity of making a public appearance is unavoidable.
To counter the effect of the Sept. 24 mobilization, the denizens of the pro-war neocon Right came slithering out of their
holes, announcing a rally to be held by a grand coalition of pro-war groups. Averring that "this could easily attract 10,000"
people into the streets in support of "staying the course" in Iraq, rally organizers boasted that the Silent Majority was
about to be heard. Their Web site, supportthetroopsweekend.org, was announced with much fanfare, and a group set out from
the West Coast in self-conscious emulation of Cindy Sheehan's antiwar tour – albeit with one difference: the pro-war
traveling sideshow flopped pretty much wherever it went.
Things went downhill from there. The only thing that didn't go downhill was
the predicted turnout from pro-war rally organizers. "Sunday is a very large pro-war event sponsored by family members of
servicemen and women, who want to let the world know that Cindy Sheehan does not speak for them," proclaimed Ed McNamara of
"Protest Warrior," a group of pro-war provocateurs whose main activity has been trying to incite violence at antiwar events.
"Rightmarch," a leading member of the pro-war coalition of neocon front groups, confidently predicted "this promises to be
a well-attended, heavily-covered rally."
"We are preparing for as many as 20,000 people, just to be on the safe side,"
said Kristinn Taylor of FreeRepublic.com, another member of the coalition of the shilling.
When Sunday came and the rally was scheduled to begin, poor Taylor was left
standing there with about 100 people trickling into the rally site. The biggest estimate I have on hand is 400, tops –
and it looks like Taylor was really very far on the "safe side." There were more than enough empty chairs.
Gee, I almost feel sorry for the guy.
Speaking of sorry, Rightmarch maintains, in a screed directed at their supporters,
that their event didn't come cheap:
"This rally – and the events around it, including counter-protests on
Friday and Saturday, and Congressional lobbying on Monday – is costing us literally tens of thousands of dollars."
These idiots spent thousands of dollars per demonstrator – and demonstrated
that they're not the "silent majority," as they stupidly claim, but rather a pathetic and isolated minority that is focused
mainly on hating Cindy Sheehan. Good luck trying to build a movement around smearing a mother who has lost her son to an increasingly
scary and unpopular war. That's the neoconservative movement for you: a large head planted atop a body so spindly as to be
– Justin Raimondo
I Gave My Copy of the Constitution to a Pro-War
The mother of one of the soldiers killed in Iraq caused a commotion near the
Veterans for Peace photo display of the fallen soldiers at last weekend's big antiwar protest in Washington, DC. She stood
in front of the pictures crying and yelling, demanding a piece of tape to cover her son's face. She said she wanted to block
it out so her son could not be "used" by the "protesters" in their "propaganda."
An antiwar Marine vet who supported the display, yet understood what he called
"a mother's grief," quietly handed her a piece of tape.
What the tape couldn't cover up, though, is that the woman's son already had
been "used" - by the US government. He was shipped to Iraq based on lies: Iraq never endangered the US. The same government
is still using her son and other dead GIs to promote its war, claiming "we" must "stay the course" to "honor" the dead.
I didn't want to state these harsh truths to the grieving mother. I did try
to explain, however, that Veterans for Peace was "using" the photographs to humanize the casualties, to convince Americans
to stop politicians from sending more young people to die in Iraq.
The woman's husband and another pro-war veteran whose son also was killed
in Iraq stepped in and shouted at me, saying they and other soldiers "protected our freedoms," and that I was "lucky" to be
able to protest, "thanks to" the soldiers.
Of course soldiers have protected our freedoms, and we honor them for that.
In fact, I saw nothing but appreciation from the protesters - the loudest cheers of the day erupted when the Iraq Veterans
Against the War marched by. (Veterans for Peace got the second loudest cheers.) We honor soldiers' good faith but oppose the
politicians who needlessly dump them into danger.
I disagreed, however, with the claim that only soldiers protected our freedoms.
Protesting against government policy, I said, protects our freedoms. So does my work as a lawyer and law professor, in its
small way. Moreover, I continued, many Americans who never "served" have "protected our freedoms." Citizens who break unjust
laws to challenge them in court protect our freedoms. Men who burned their draft cards, or who refused to give the government
the power to force them to fight in wars, protected our freedoms. Artists who push boundaries protect our freedoms.
I focused on the freedom of speech and said everyone had a right to protest.
The main threat to our freedom of speech (and our other liberties), I continued, was our own government. To strengthen that
point, I pulled out my pocket copy of the US Constitution and read the First Amendment out loud. It doesn't mention foreign
threats. It warns against our own government's violating our freedom of the press, of speech, of assembly, of petitioning
the government, of religion.
Americans who criticize the protesters should read our Constitution. This
includes Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), who told Sunday's small pro-war "counter-protest," "The group who spoke here the
other day did not represent the American ideals of freedom, liberty, and spreading that around the world. I frankly don't
know what they represent, other than to blame America first."
The people at last Saturday's protest were guarding all our freedoms, including
the soldiers' freedoms - including their right not to be used by their own government to wage an unjustifiable war that benefits
only a few elites. The protesters didn't represent "blame America first'; they represented the ideals in our Constitution.
One of the men I'd been arguing with looked at my battered copy of the Constitution
and asked, "Is that for me?" I've carried that little book around with me for years, and I'm attached to it. But something
came over me, and I handed it to him. I asked him to read it. He said he would and walked away.
Perhaps he will read it. And then perhaps he and other pro-war veterans and
parents of soldiers killed in Iraq will vent their rage at the government, and its pom-pom boys such as Senator Sessions.
Thanks to the protesters and other Americans who've stood up to our government, they'll be able to do that when they figure
out who's really using their sons.
," page one, Oct. 26]. Since the beginning of this unjust and illegal war, it
has been my opinion that The Times, and every other major newspaper in the country, should dedicate a small space on the front
page for doing exactly this, on a daily/ongoing basis.
People need to start understanding what "staying the course" really means,
and they need to be reminded of this, over and over again, until they get so sick seeing the names and numbers that they rise
up and demand that our so-called representatives put an end to it.
How many more have to die in order to honor those who have already fallen,
George — 2,000, 4,000, 25,000 more?
Two thousand seems such a small number in a day and age when everything we
talk about has at least nine zeros behind it; but to the friends, family and loved ones [of the fallen], "one" is one too
— Bob Afenir, Coupeville
Null in void
Two thousand American soldiers have died in Iraq. But this number is deceptive. The Bush administration has
used various tricks to lower the casualty count.
Soldiers who are wounded in Iraq and die after being flown out of the country are not included. Soldiers who
commit suicide while in Iraq are not included. "Green-card soldiers," who are not yet naturalized citizens, are not included.
Also, Halliburton employs a vast private military in Iraq, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. American deaths among
the Halliburton troops are not reported as U.S. casualties.
The real number of American deaths in Iraq is certain to be much higher than 2,000. But there is one number
that is genuinely low. I mean the number of funerals of fallen American soldiers attended by our self-styled war president.
That number is zero.
10/12/05 "ICH" -- -- My son
returned from Iraq last weekend after a year’s service. I confess to breathing much easier now that he is out of that
I have a personal request for all of you George W. Bush supporters and Christian warhawks: please do
not support my troop. I have visions and aspirations of having him around, seeing him settle down and start a family at some
point, and being near as I grow older. Your support would mean that he would be sent back to this war started and continued
on lies to become a target for those who would rather live their lives without the interference of a foreign, empire-seeking,
Actually, my son completed his contractual obligation to the military several months ago,
but thanks to your support, he has been stop-lossed and has no idea when he will be allowed to resign his commission.
would I not want your support for my troop, you ask? Considering your support of our criminal government has led to the death,
destruction and misery of millions of people on this planet, that is basically a no-brainer.
Of course you supported
the troops back in WWII and thought that was a good thing, but somewhere along the line your support of the State led to the
leaving behind of over 20,000 of our soldiers, those liberated from German POW camps by the Russians, never to be heard from
again. I’m sure those families appreciated your support.
Back in 1950, you supported my father as he left my
mother and me to go to war in Korea. He never returned, giving his life somewhere in that foreign land. Because of the loss
of my father, my mother put a vodka bottle to her head and pulled the trigger. Your wonderful support took both my parents.
Your continued support in Korea led to the abandonment of over 8,000 POW’s and MIA’s
to the enemy. Do you wonder why many find your support lacking? Just ask the families of those who have been left behind by
this government you support blindly.
Some of you supported us as we went to the jungles of Southeast Asia; some chose
not to. The results were the same; with or without your support, our criminal government cares nothing for those in uniform!
Those of you who supported us claimed that those who didn’t were responsible for us losing the war. Horse Apples! We
lost that war for the same reason we will lose the one in Iraq: wars started on lies to increase the bottom line of campaign
contributors are seldom won because the war must be extended for as long as possible to insure the corporatocracy gets a full
return on its money. There is a black granite wall in DC so all of you warhawks can go there and read the names of the 58,000+
charred souls you killed with your support. Just exactly where did that get us? Does Vietnam have a "democracy" today? Your
continued support for a corrupt government led to over 2,000 military personnel being left behind in that war; with grieving
families never knowing what happened to their loved ones.
Your support in Beirut cost the lives of hundreds of Marines
and Soldiers as people who wanted us to hell out of their country destroyed our soldiers' poorly protected barracks. Please
give me the upside to this loss. Is Lebanon better off today because those good soldiers gave their lives?
I can still
see the faces of the young Army Rangers that were killed in the illegal invasion of Panama. With your support, they gave their
lives to assist in serving a drug warrant on a foreign Head of State, one our government had supported for years. Is it not
ironic that we later went to war with Iraq for doing to Kuwait the same thing you supported our soldiers doing to Panama?
wonderful support led to the unspeakable horrors inflicted on those soldiers who were in Somalia! You should be especially
proud of that one. Those dead soldiers dragged through the streets would not have been there had it not been for your "support."
If you have trouble remembering this, some time spent with the book Black Hawk Down should jog your memory.
a true Orwellian society could citizens send off poorly trained and equipped soldiers, serving in a politically correct military,
led by a civilian leadership that has spent the majority of their adult lives in a revolving door between the military industrial
complex and government service, and call the damn thing, "supporting the troops."
Why do we call people who prefer
to live their lives without having their land bombed, their women, children and old folks killed, their national infrastructure
destroyed and foreign soldiers on their soil, terrorists? Have you ever wondered what word the American Indian had for the
U.S. government back in the middle to late 19th Century? History tells us we referred to them as "savages" and "those Red
Devils" because they fought and died for their land and their culture. What did our ancestors call the British who were doing
to the colonists precisely what our government does to others today?
Time to come clean, America: you do not in any
way support troops by sending them to die for Halliburton and Bechtel’s bottom line. This is analogous to sending your
teenager out in a car with no brakes and bald tires, accompanied by a child rapist high on crystal meth, and calling that
"supporting" your children.
Rush Limbaugh was actually right for a change: there can be no support for the troops without
supporting the war and the government that sent them there. Your misplaced support for the troops is actually support for
a criminal enterprise in which the military serves as the enforcement arm of that enterprise. If you want to support the troops,
do not allow the State to send them to their deaths for corporate profits in wars sired by lies!
<email@example.com> is an U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American
Washington, DC -- In the dining hall is
a family of three. The mother’s shirt says “Thank a Soldier,” the father’s hat says “Vietnam
Veteran,” and the son’s T-shirt says “Seattle Sonics.” A normal family, except the son has no legs.
tough talking lions of the Bush Administration proclaimed “shock and awe” would destroy the Iraqi will to fight
and then it would be a simple “cakewalk.” So the cocky civilians unleashed the “mother” of all air
assaults on Baghdad and then our strutting commander in chief -- decked out in a fine flight suit -- proclaimed, “Mission
But the flight-suit President dodged the Vietnam War, hiding in the Air National Guard’s
“Champagne Unit,” strongly supporting the war from Texas. The Vice-President “had other options,”
although he insisted other Americans had no option but to fight the war. The Secretary of Defense enrolled in Princeton University
instead of the Korean War; after the war he enrolled in the Navy. All the hawkish Neocons were too busy arguing for
the Vietnam War to actually fight in that war. Shame, they missed their “noble” causes. So when it came
to Iraq, none of these men had a clue about the will to fight.
I see in the halls of Walter Reed hospital soldiers
with leg braces and neck supports, soldiers with faces slashed by bombs and stitched up by doctors. Soldiers with legs terribly
mangled, soldiers with no legs -- amputees with short stumps, with long stumps, without any stumps since entire limbs are
missing. A man walks by without an arm. I suddenly travel back in time to another war, to another hospital when I was one
of those young men without a limb. But the human carnage and waste in Walter Reed is too overwhelming to escape for more than
a flash of time.
At the Army’s flagship medical facility, where thousands of wounded soldiers pass through,
there is no political spin, no media filter, no presidential lies, and no patriotism without cost as there is in America.
There are only the wounded and mangled from Iraq. There is the ground zero for ugly war reality. For these men and women there
was no safe “Champagne Unit,” no other options, no Ivy League hiding, no just talking while others did the fighting.
At Walter Reed there are not Chickenhawks.
Dining Made Difficult
In the large dining room, mothers prepare
their son’s food, applying ketchup to hamburgers, cutting pork chops, raising tables for their wheelchairs to clear.
Fathers mostly sit with slight smiles on their faces. The conversations are mundane, and sedate. Talk about family, talk about
the weather, talk about the future. Recuperating from serious wounds is slow so it’s best not to go too far into the
In a wheelchair, a young man who barely looks 17 years old rolls by with a pair of ugly “road kill”
legs -- the spaghetti I’m eating rumbles in my stomach -- followed by a soldier on crutches, doing a Frankenstein walk
with stiff legs thrown outward. Several tables away, a slightly older soldier, in his early 30s, with a nasty looking scarred
leg propped up on a chair, rubs his fingers over the smooth surface of his Purple Heart Medal. This is the medal given for
combat wounds, to everyone wounded by enemy fire. This is the medal that delegates at the Republican Party mocked.... I need some fresh air.
In front of the hospital a man in his mid-20s sits down on the bench next to me.
His right leg is bloated to at least double its normal size. Most of the top layer of skin had been removed, it’s raw
reddish. Puss glistens in the sun light, or maybe it’s some kind of ointment.
“Looks like you had a bad
day” I wisecrack gently.
“Yeah,” he snickers.
“An IED?” (Improvised Explosive
Device, roadside bomb or land mine.)
“Nope, bullet, it splattered bone.”
The sergeant has been
back from Iraq since January, nine months in Walter Reed, and his leg remains ugly looking. It will probably always be ugly
looking. But in Walter Reed looks mean nothing, what matters is walking. I remember my obsession to walk, an obsession that
overcame the pain and the blood, anything to be able to walk again. And the sergeant is walking, with crutches. But I doubt
this sergeant will do much walking in his lifetime.
Sometimes it’s best to just cut the leg off, but doctors
can not always do what is best. The sergeant stands up, struggles to walk five feet, stops for a rest. He looks over his shoulder
and says, “I’ll make it, I have to make it.”
“Yes you will,” I say, knowing clearly
that as the years pass his walking will become even more difficult, until there is no walking. All this sergeant from North
Carolina ever wanted was a normal life, with a normal family, a boy and a girl. A smile broke his straight face when he said,
“a boy, and a girl.” But his normal life is gone and all he has is the dream of returning home to North Carolina,
and hopefully that boy and girl.
The Rules of War
In America’s shock and horror at Walter Reed
there are rules. I will give you the four that I believe are most important.
Rule 1: talk to the person and
not to the wound. This can be difficult in the beginning since ugly wounds tend to overwhelm. But the bearer of ugly wounds
remains much more than a wounded person, and this you need to respect. You can ask about the wound, but you cannot talk to
only the wound.
Rule 2: allow wounded soldiers to do what they can do themselves. Give them the space and the
opportunity to have control over their lives, even when severely dependent upon other people.
When I was in Bethesda
Naval hospital in the late 1960s, leg amputated and bed ridden, frustrated with my constant dependence on others, a visitor
asked me for a cigarette -- in those days you could smoke right in the hospital -- and I was ecstatic to hand him one. It
felt great to do something on my own, in this case hand another human being a simple item.
Rule 3: forget your
moral questions about the war. Morality is for those who support the war and for those who oppose the war, not for those in
the war. Those seriously wounded are still fighting the war so clam up about the immorality of this stupid war.
corollary to this rule is never protest against a war in front of a military facility, especially a military hospital.
That is a no-brainer. You demonstrate against those who made the policy to go to war, not against those who are sworn to carry
out the order to go to war.
Rule 4: don’t assume this is a sad time for these recuperating men. For most
their physical pain is receding or is being managed by drugs, and the true mental anguish has yet to sink in. They are focused
on their future which after a close call with death looks darn rosy.
“Hey, man how you doing?” a soldier
greets another stepping into the elevator.
“Great,” he replies. I notice out of the corner of my eye he
is missing a chunk of his cheek, it’s ugly.
“Guess what, man? Smithy’s coming up!”
he’s driving up this weekend.”
“That’s great, man.”
This is the spirit that America
sees when it sees anything of these wounded soldiers. It makes Americans feel good, proud of their country, confident about
their military. But it is only part of the truth. There is a hidden truth. It is ugly.
The “For What”
With spirits high -- hey, they just “cheated” death -- surrounded by fellow soldiers day
and night, with family and friends visiting and attentive, life is not bad. But this is the easy middle, coming after the
initial shock of being seriously wounded and before the tortuous work of transforming one’s identity to accept the new
reality. The easy middle is relatively easy.
When discharged from the hospital, their tight support network disappears
and the strong optimism in the wake of a close call begins to wane. There is now time and space to think, and to ask questions.
Sitting alone in an apartment, probably a spartanly furnished apartment, maybe in a dingy bar with their back against the
wall, the questions start. They always do, for those severely wounded. Those “for what” questions: for what do
I have to put on an artificial limb every morning? For what must I live with this horrible pain every day? For what did my
buddy die? For what was all the horror for?
Some will attempt to evade these questions, but that’s not possible.
They paid too high a price. Some will turn to stock replies, such as, “It was for God, country, and family.” To
the degree this works is the degree that they cut themselves off from reality. Vietnam was not for God, America, and family,
and neither is Iraq. Most of the wounded will learn this, and then they will demand a real answer to, “For what?”
The only satisfactory answer is for defense of country. Nothing else justifies the sacrifices, sacrifices Americans
quickly forget but endure a lifetime for these men and women. The other answers, to rebuild another country, to stay the course
so others won’t perceive America as weak, to fulfill a president’s fantasy of a great legacy, to fill our vehicles’
gas tanks, to save the world from the latest new evil, they cannot withstand the ugly questions that come from horror and
suffering. “For what?” is too strong for weak answers.
Barbara Porchia, whose son Jonathan was killed
in Iraq, said if he had died in Afghanistan that would have probably been easier to accept -- still horribly difficult, of course,
but easier than Jonathan dying in the worthless Iraq War. In defense of country is the only justification for our dead
and wounded soldiers and marines, nothing else is acceptable in the long run. Nothing else is ever acceptable.
walking through Ward 57, the amputee ward, walking on the 5th floor. There are grisly sights here. Sights that the dining
room and outside benches do not want to see, that I do not want to see. Bodies wrapped in blood soaked bandages. Eyes covered
in agony. Nurses’ huddled over broken bodies. The air is thick on the 5th floor, hard to breath. The flag of patriotism
is less intensely displayed here. The pain of war is stronger. I feel a deep anger at America rising in me. Then I see --
I walk quickly, I need some fresh air.
But at Walther Reed, ground zero for ugly war, there is no break from horror.
A young man sits down on the bench next to me -- “blew the lower part of my leg off … an IED … getting my
first leg next week … going to college when I get out … girl friend visits ….”
“For what?” is answered with a closed mind, or with an honest answer, many seriously disabled veterans will in
time turn bitter and cynical. But others will swallow hard, refusing to let the injustice crush them, and move on in life.
But all will be deeply scarred. If their sacrifices were truly for the defense of our country, that helps a lot. That cause
can justify the sacrifices, but an unworthy cause justifies nothing.
A veteran with Iraq Veterans Against the War
recently commented that after the guys return home and realize that on the home front Americans barely cared about the war,
that here patriotism is an empty gesture because no one sacrifices anything, they will become angry.
To this day,
some 38 years later, when I hear someone on the radio discuss the World Series in 1967, or some similar remark about 1967,
I cringe. That was the year I was fighting in Vietnam. That was the year thousands of young Americans were dying and losing
limbs and their minds for, supposedly, their country. But our country was excited about the World Series, and…. If a
war is important enough for soldiers to be maimed and to die for, it is important enough for all Americans to sacrifice
The World Series of baseball should have been cancelled in 1967, as it should be cancelled today,
because America has young men fighting in a war.
But Americans are barely paying attention and would refuse to give
substance to their patriotism, a clear indication this is not a war for the defense of America. We have an administration
that won’t fully fund veterans’ health care, while it does not properly equip our troops in war. And we are a
people not insisting our veterans have adequate health care and our soldiers have proper equipment. This is wrong,
America. Wrong to those with “road kill” legs, wrong to those with partial faces, wrong to those with missing
I stand up from the bench, it’s hard for me to sit for too long, and it’s hard for me to walk for
very far. Instead of returning to the 5th floor, I return to my car. Driving through the gate of Walter Reed and onto Connecticut
Avenue -- a cab whizzes by, a speeding van honks, a couple on the sidewalk hugs -- my head shoots back as pain rips through
my stump, just as fast it leaves. But I know the pain will be back. This is for a lifetime. What's inside Walter Reed is also
for a lifetime.
When I was a little girl and again as a young woman dreaming about having
children I never, ever, even for a heartbeat imagined that I would ever be the mother of someone who had killed somebody.
But I am. There in Iraq in the dusty, sun-baked rubble that was once the City of Mosques, Ar Ramadi, Iraq, my son repeatedly
engaged an enemy, sighted down the barrel of his weapon, opened fire and ended lives.
John, now a corporal in the Marine Corp, returned from his second tour in
Iraq in March. The transition from patrolling Route Michigan, one of the most dangerous highways in the world, to visiting
with his mother in Oregon was more difficult than I would have thought.
Once, while chatting about his future, his plans, his experiences, the lid
of a large dumpster at a nearby building slammed shut. John catapulted to his feet. His instincts, his brain, ready, alert,
searching, assessing, calculating. His body was coiled and tense. The flesh on his face flattened against his skull and a
vein appeared on his forehead, pulsing. His hands appeared to reach for a machine gun that was, thankfully, not slung over
The moment lasted only nano-seconds before he realized he wasn't in Iraq.
Yet, in less than a second his face had registered fear, anger, hatred, relief and finally self-deprecation. My heart ached
as I watched him.
Knowing I was powerless to erase the experiences and memories that led to
my son's reaction, I entered the anti-war arena. Many other things have contributed to my emergence as an opponent of this
war. My son's near brushes with death. My belief that my son and his fellow warriors are being used as targets and security
guards to allow Halliburton and similar corporations and individuals to plunder the assets of Iraq. The anger I feel when
I see the burden this war has permanently imprinted upon my son. Knowing that the war had no basis in fact, that my son and
his fellow Marines and soldiers are being used have all contributed to why I went to Washington, DC last weekend.
All of those reasons, while valid, merely add salt to the wound. Nothing has
the motivational power of knowing my own issue has taken a life -- taken lives does. Not that I blame my son. How could I?
John was thrust into the horrible circumstance of war, of killing or being killed. Of killing or believing that your inaction
allowed the death of your best buddy. No, I blame myself because I did nothing to try and prevent this war beyond voicing
my skepticism to the voiceless, deaf walls of my home.
And, yes, I blame this administration.
This weekend I marched in Washington DC with as many as 500,000 or as little
as 150,000 people depending upon whether you believe C-SPAN or CNN. As I marched I met many other Oregonians along the way.
Weaving through the throng I met other Marine moms, some with their sons deploying for their first tour and I wished I had
had the forethought to do something, anything, before my son went to war.
When my son deployed for his first tour, my thirst for information finally
led me into the world of independent journalism and blogging and I am no longer constrained by the bland dispatches of AP
wirefeeds and the handfed releases from the White House and the Pentagon that are presented as news by the mainstream media.
Information is power and I no longer feel as powerless to effect change as I once did. It is with this mind set that I marched
on Washington, last Saturday.
Banners proclaiming "Bush Lied, Who Died," "Sunday School Teachers Against
The War," "$13,000/sec," "Make Levees, Not War," "Vermont For Peace," and even "Republicans Against The War" marked the attendees.
Also present were all the usual suspects, Cindy Sheehan and Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans
Against the War and Military Families Speak Out among many others.
Eleven of us traveled from Oregon, nine from Coos County and a couple from
Portland. Our group includes doctors, contractors, writers, musicians, educators and business owners. We refer to ourselves
affectionately as the Bandonistas, as most hail from Bandon, Oregon. Only I was a first time marcher and yet even the experienced
members of our group were amazed by the magnitude of the crowd.
The march began at the Ellipse on Constitution Avenue, and went up 15th Street
to Pennsylvania Avenue to pass in front of the White House. The District of Columbia revised statutes prohibit stopping in
front of the White House. Local police had erected metal barriers in front of the White House. Black hooded snipers were visible
on the roof. As the march progressed past the White House the different groups would stop long enough to direct their particular
message in the direction of the oval office, even though President Bush had exited Washington just prior to the march.
The march then wound around Lafayette Park turned down to Pennsylvania Avenue
to head east past the Department of Justice and return along Constitution Avenue and return to the Ellipse. We were approximately
200 yards from the start of the march and people were stretched across every lane of the streets, yet when we had completed
the loop we could look back up 15th Street and see the masses still pouring along H Street more than two miles behind the
head of the march.
A small group of counter-protestors were positioned at the FBI building waving
banners of their own. "Freedom isn't free," "God blesses us and curses our enemies," and "ANSWER is dumb, Jane Fonda is dumb."
Some shouted that we were denigrating the efforts of the troops. That view
continues to amaze me. Two themes were universally agreed upon by the hundreds of thousands of marchers on Saturday. First
was that the war is illegal. The second and most powerful is that the troops are heroes. The troops are to be honored, protected,
supported and brought home as soon as possible.