Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
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Vets for Peace
Lt. ehren Watada
Sharat g. Lin
Dorothy Ray Healey, Activist
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage
There are no articles.
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Soldiers Must Choose to Stop Fighting
W e have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years. It seems as though nothing we’ve done, from vigils to protests to letters to Congress, has had any effect in persuading the powers that be. Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War, but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.
Now it is not an easy task for the soldier for he or she must be aware that they are being used for ill-gain. They must hold themselves responsible for individual action. They must remember duty to the Constitution and the people supersedes the ideologies of their leadership. The American soldier must rise above the socialization that tells them authority should always be obeyed without question. Awareness of the history of atrocities and destruction committed in the name of America—either through direct military intervention or by proxy war—is crucial. They must realize that this is a war not of self-defense, but by choice, for profit and imperialistic domination. WMD, ties to Al Qaeda, and ties to 9/11 never existed and never will. The soldier must know that our narrowly and questionably elected officials intentionally manipulated the evidence presented to Congress, the public, and the world to make the case for war. They must know that neither Congress nor this Administration has the authority to violate the prohibition against pre-emptive war— an American law that still stands today. Though the American soldier wants to do right, they must know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.
Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one’s right to seek the truth, neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. “I was only following orders” is never an excuse. The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of “prevention” is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity.
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer’s actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation.
If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path, they must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will be supported by Americans. To support the troops who resist, you must make your voices heard. We must show open-minded soldiers a choice and we must give them courage to act.
Three weeks ago, Sgt. Hernandez from the 172nd Stryker Brigade was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children. In an interview, his wife said he sacrificed his life so that his family could survive. People like Sgt. Hernandez don’t have a choice. The choices are to fight in Iraq or let your family starve. Many soldiers don’t refuse this war en mass because, like all of us, they value their families over their own lives and perhaps their conscience. Who would willingly spend years in prison for principle and morality while denying their family sustenance?
You must know that to stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting
it, they must have the unconditional support of the people. Convince
them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long
this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof
over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities, and education.
Why must Canadians feed and house our fellow Americans who have
chosen to do the right thing? We should be the ones taking care
of our own. Are we that powerless; are we that unwilling to risk
something for those who can truly end this war? How do you support
the troops, but not the war? By supporting those who can truly stop
it; let them know that resistance to participate in an illegal war
is not futile and not without a future.
I have broken no law, but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings. If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one person. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting sooner. Many have said this about the World Trade Towers, “Never again.” I agree. Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free, be they terrorists or “elected” officials. The time to fight back is now; the time to stand up and be counted is today.
On June 22 Lt. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful war and occupation in Iraq. On August 12, Watada spoke at the Veterans For Peace national convention. That speech was compiled by Dahr Jamail (see www.truthout.org for full speech).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.