A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Iraq veterans against the war’

Root causes

The past few days I was at the annual School of the Americas Watch Vigil calling for the transformation of inequitable policies between the United States and Latin America. Every morning before I headed out for a day full of meetings and actions I listened to the news on CNN.

I was stunned by the misinformation, war mongering and outright exploitation of grief and fear from the events in Beirut and Paris. This rhetoric was chorused by presidential candidates naming shameful and ridiculous solutions from children being denied refugee status to a “registry” for Muslims in the U.S.

A lot of candidates say they are for the troops and will do anything to support vets. But how many listen to veterans when they call for an end to war? In our ongoing exploration of what never makes it into the main stream media during a campaign year, I offer to you a vitally important statement from vets on how we need to respond to events unfolding around the globe:

IVAW Statement on Recent Attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq, & Nigeria
 

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the victims and families who have suffered from the acts of brutality committed in Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Zabul and now multiple cities in Nigeria over the last number of days.

We condemn these terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq and Nigeria. We mourn with the victims and send our deepest condolences to their families. No one’s life should end in this way; no family should suffer the anguish and loss that these people are suffering.

For these attacks to stop, we must address their root causes and take responsibility for U.S. participation in the destabilization of countries that span the Middle East, North and Western Africa, and South and Central Asia. The deliberate destabilization of once functional states in the region, and the current bombardment of Yemen by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, has created the perfect environment for groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to grow and thrive. We must see the rise of terrorism and the attacks in Paris for what they are, blowback for western intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

We, as current and former military members, understand that who the U.S. military kills is never certain and differentiating combatants from civilians is not a priority. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and thousands of others are being stalked and killed by drones in at least seven countries, creating an environment filled with constant terror. Russia joining the bombardment of Syria and Iraq, the recent announcement of more troops to be deployed around the globe, and the extension of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan will only exacerbate an increasingly volatile situation until the “all out war” that France’s President Hollande called for is upon us. The end result of all of this can only be destruction, terror and lost lives, not only from predominately Muslim countries, but everywhere terror and war will inevitably reach.

We know from experience that declaring war on terrorism is a futile gesture that engages the world in a downward spiral of destruction. A full land war in Syria plays into the goals of terrorist groups and will undoubtedly destroy more innocent lives. Meanwhile, western countries will be no safer than before, in fact, increased blowback resulting from these actions will remain an ever present threat for years to come. An escalation of warfare will also violate civil liberties by establishing a securitization regime in France as an extension of the already existing “security measures” in the U.S., England and elsewhere
.

We call on the US and its NATO allies to:

1)    Exercise restraint and exhaust all avenues of diplomacy;

2)    Take full responsibility and hold themselves accountable for the illegality of the Iraq war and the continuance of the Afghanistan war, their colonial exploits, and their extra military actions which gave rise to the instability of various regions as we see today;

3)    De-escalate from the perpetual violence, and reduce militarization both at home and abroad; and

4)    Accept responsibility for the resettlement of all refugees, who are victimized by the so-called “War on Terror,” and resist scapegoating those with the least power in this tragic string of events.

Repeating the disastrous choices made by our nation after September 11th will result in nothing short of squandering the future of millions. This cycle of violence and exploitation has to end now.

Out of Iraq?

  Important update from Iraq Veterans Against the War…

It’s Not Really Over

Mainstream television news has made a big show of the withdrawal of America’s “last combat troops” from Iraq, but the painful saga continues for our service members.  Many returning home to their tearful and joyous families in the coming days will ultimately be sent to serve more tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, members of two different units heading to Iraq and Afghanistan are calling on their commanders right now to halt their deployments because they are not physically or mentally ready to deploy.

Will you stand with them?

President Obama makes it sound like the troops remaining in Iraq will be serving largely administrative and ‘advisory’ functions. But in reality, 50,000 “combat capable” troops will remain in Iraq to:

  • Train the Iraqi military, including accompanying them on dangerous patrols;
  • Support special forces operations in their continued hunt for terrorists; and
  • Provide air support to the Iraqi military (a.k.a overhead artillery and bombing).

In an Iraq which grows increasingly violent each month, does this sound like desk duty?

The 3rd ACR at Fort Hood1

This Sunday, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) at Fort Hood will be shipped out to Iraq.  The military wives and family members of 3rd ACR soldiers say that hundreds of the 5,000 about to go to Iraq are suffering from PTSD and other ailments, and are not fit to deploy.  This week they demanded that those wounded warriors stay home.

IVAW’s Fort Hood chapter and Fort Hood’s military families are asking the civilian community to join their calls for the military to stop deploying traumatized troops.

Call 3rd ACR Commanders and tell them not to deploy soldiers who have PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.

3rd ACR Commanders:
Regimental Commander – Col. Allen (254) 553-3526
Command Sgt. Major Jonathan J. Hunt (254) 287-0598

Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and ask for whatever commander you’re ringing by name. If they won’t speak to you, leave them a message or call back. If you get anyone else’s ear, tell them to stop deploying soldiers who are medically unfit.  After you’ve made your call, send us an email at feedback@ivaw.org to let us know you’ve called.

The 656th Transportation Company2

The 656th is an Army Reserve unit based in Indiana, made up of reservists from several midwestern states.  Due to deploy this weekend for Afghanistan, members within the unit have cited lack of training and mental health problems among the reasons they are not fit to go.  IVAW member, Alejandro Villatoro, a Sergeant in the Company, has raised concerns that they have not been trained on the weapons they will be using, and do not know how to operate the vehicles they will have to drive, once in Afghanistan.  There are also serious mental health issues among some of the troops set to deploy.

After Alejandro first exposed this crisis, others in the unit also came forward.  They are now pushing for a Congressional inquiry into their unit’s readiness.  We will keep you posted next week with steps you can take to support their efforts.  For a full explanation of the situation facing the 656th, click here.

“We humbly ask you what we can do…”

Below is a letter and action from Iraq Veterans Against the War. It is addressing a video of an attack on a neighborhood in Iraq that was posted to Wikileaks.

Wikileaks obtained the video because Reuters Press had filed a Freedom of Information Act request because two of their own reporters were killed in this attack. The government’s explanation to them at the time was that no civilians were involved.

At the bottom of the letter is the video. It is a very disturbing film and yet shows a reality that is inescapable for the people of Iraq.

Equally important, I believe, is the letter written by veterans who were involved in the event. If you have time for only one thing – please read this letter. It is a road map for how to get out of this war and dignify the many victims. If you have time for two things – please click the link at the end and sign their petition.  Peace Liz

AN OPEN LETTER OF RECONCILIATION & RESPONSIBILITY  TO  THE  IRAQI  PEOPLE
From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military

Peace be with you.

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video:

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.

We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of “god and country”. The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn’t have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.

Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation’s leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won’t lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation’s importance pales in comparison to our common humanity.

We have asked our fellow veterans and service-members, as well as civilians both in the United States and abroad, to sign in support of this letter, and to offer their names as a testimony to our common humanity, to distance ourselves from the destructive policies of our nation’s leaders, and to extend our hands to you.

With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.

Solemnly and Sincerely,
Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army

See letter’s signatures

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