Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Thoughts ~ Veterans for Peace

The following is a quote from Veterans for Peace Ntl. vice President, Leah Bolger

"When Barack Obama was still running for president, he frequently touted his "no" vote on the Iraq war as an indicator that he was the "peace" candidate. He said that if he were elected president, he would exhaust every diplomatic path before he would turn to the last resort of military force.
Yet his surge of force in Afghanistan didn't come as a surprise to anyone; indeed he spoke about refocusing U.S. efforts there as we drew down from Iraq. Now, Congress approved $91 billion requested by President Obama for continued military operations in Afghanistan.
So how does Obama reconcile his peace persona with his aggressive military policy on Afghanistan? Answer: By portraying it as the "good" war - the "just" war. By continuing to foster the fear of Americans and justify the fatalities of non-Americans as a necessary cost of keeping us safe.
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is no more "just" than that of Iraq. Our unmanned drones and aerial bombardments invoke terror in all of the population, not just the "bad guys".
It is immoral to write off the civilian fatalities as an inherent cost of war. It is wrong to say "It's worth it." That's not our call. "

Ms. Bolger stated so well the thoughts I have about the current military situation. 
Where's the Diplomacy that was promised?
Drone planes in Pakistan can not sort out the innocent from the Insurgents. 
The most important question I want answered is when will it end?
How can we justify spending more billions on wars of choice when our country is essentially bankrupt?
What about moral bankruptcy?
How long can we use the excuse of avenging 9-11 to continue to have wars?
What would constitute a "win"?

Our local progressive Eugene Weekly paper posted this notice:

• The war in Afghanistan/Pakistan is heating up, so in our “War Dead” box we are adding statistics from Afghanistan, including U.S. dead, injured and the cost in dollars to taxpayers. The total costs of war cannot be calculated in a box, of course. War costs have to include long-term human suffering in its myriad forms, the destruction of social and political systems, environmental and infrastructure degradation and economic damage from squandered resources and war profiteering.

The paper posts a weekly update on the stats from the Iraq war, and have now added the Afghanistan war info.
There has been so much focus on the Iraq occupation, we hear very little info on the stats of the 8 years we've already spent in Afghanistan.

A sampling of their *just the facts* weekly post:


Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):

In Iraq

• 4,296 U.S. troops killed* (4,292)

• 31,256 U.S. troops injured* (31,245) 

• 182 U.S. military suicides* (182)

• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)

• 100,361 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (100,339)

• $670.7 billion cost of war ($667.9 billion) 

• $190.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($189.9 million)

In Afganistan

• 685 U.S. troops killed* (682)

• 2,828 U.S. troops injured* (2,820)

• $188.2 billion cost of war ($187.7 million)

• $53.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($53.3 million)

* through May 18, 2009; source:; some figures only updated monthly
** sources:,
*** highest estimate; source:; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.1 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)


I for one greatly appreciate them keeping this information in the public eye. No analysis, opinion or comment, just the statistics.

In case you missed this video montage made by Veteran for Peace, Gordon Sturrock, check it out--

My Veterans for Peace friend, Gordon Sturrock put together this montage~ in his words:

"A farewell to the 162nd Infantry of the 2nd Battalion. Created from video
footage filmed at the Mobilization Ceremony on May 4, 2009 at the Lane
Country Fairgrounds in Eugene, woven into an audio and video "tapestry of
contrast" by fellow vets who are deeply concerned for all the souls who
will ultimately be touched by this deployment."


Utah Savage said...

This is the most powerful Memorial day post I've seen. I've always hated Memorial day since I saw it as a memorializing of war in the guise of memorializing of the deaths of soldiers. It was to me a collective chest thumping, a glorifying of war itself. But now I have a different perspective. Now I see those deaths as the blood sport of a blood thirsty nation bent on foreign military adventures having nothing at all to do with defense of this nation.

Fran said...

Thank you Utah~ The Vets themselves have emerged as the most passionate Warriors for Peace.... they are the ones who really know of what they speak.
It's not theoretical to them... they know first hand what it is like, far beyond the headlines, and into the front lines of the so-called "war theater". How the military really treats soldiers & veterans, the immersion into the sights & sounds of life in Iraq & Afghanistan.
That fellowship amongst soldiers is a strong bond.
They band together, and stand up for each other, and more & more stand up against war.

You said it really well too.... the "collective chest thumping", please - let's not glorify the least humanitarian action of all- war.

That tapestry of contrast vid captures it well.

Dada said...

Not that it matters now save for the dead who have died and the wounded who have suffered needlessly, but going on 7 years later we've all passed a lot of water under the bridge since, but I have always believed Obama's opposition to the Iraq war was politically expedient, i.e., as an Illinois state senator at the time, it was politically cheap and easy, i.e., it didn't "cost him" anything politically. In fact it likely appreciated his presidential stock. As he said back in October, 2002 ...

"What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by...armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

"What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

But had Obama been a junior U.S. senator at the time, I believe he would have stood on the steps of the capitol with 95 other senators, saluted the flag, pledged his allegiance and voted FOR this war.

I believe this, because it is the only way for me to accept Obama's "CHANGE" we can believe in -- the change that got him elected. It's the change in himself, his change to the *real* Obama!

Dada said...

Oh, and one added thought: It's not that I'm dissing Obama in particular. He's more a symbol of nearly every politician we send to DC to affect change but, who, when once there morphs into someone/something unrecognizable from what we actually voted for.

According to Thomas Jefferson, we are many revolutions behind his proposed "one every 20 years or so." But I take heart in believing the American people will reawaken, and soon. We're now just days away from "The Summer of Hell."

Fran said...

Frankly, Dada, I am opposed to any war, really.
I don;t think there is any war these days I could or would support. I see it as a total waste of everything- time, lives, money, humanity. The thing is all the different factions of terrorists- Mujahideen, al Qaeda, Taliban- they are worldwide. We don't have them cornered in a kind of old style battle. Those who choose to fight with the 2 years of heads up that the troop surge is coming (think they will be ready???), will be in waiting.
Even Biden himself, said they expect for there to be
(quote) "an uptick in casualties" when they do the surge in Afghanistan.
Iraq is already flaring back up & they are not even out of there yet. The most recent fatalities happened within the green zone. So fortified areas are not even safe. Ah but that only justifies keeping some 50,000 troops there.
That does not sound like a pull out of troops to me.

The terrain in Afghanistan is rugged & creates total ambush zones. We've already been there 8 years!
The biggest thing is the serious poverty, but add in mistrust from what just happened in Iraq, Language barriers, extreme temperatures....

You have appropriately named it--
The Summer of Hell.

I am dreading watching it unfold.