Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

April 26, 2014

“Thank you for your service.”

citadel, u.s. forces, tet offensive, the vietnam war, hue

 

wounded marine, the vietnam war, battle of hue, tet offensive

 

I have about 20 “stock” answers for this, and another 30 depending on the circumstance. It is something we veterans hear quite often, as well as “welcome home” and other variants of people who have never served, but want to show some respect for those of us who did. I used to find this quite awkward, considering my first tour was to kill as many VC/NVA as possible; it is difficult to think of saying “thank you” or “you’re welcome” to people who have no concept except for the Hollywood crap that pours out from time to time and the books that glorify the killing of others. I’ve come to understand that people honestly wish to thank those who took some time out of their lives to defend the country and the Constitution, (against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, that italic is not an error). My second tour was as a Combat Medic, saving lives, something I am proud of.

We veterans are in a unique position, many of us served behind the lines, (REMF’s), in fact, it takes about 20 soldiers in the rear to support a single soldier on the line. Many served during times of relative peace, others have been in the very pit of hell, hand to hand combat. All who have worn a uniform of the services have different points of view, there are times of great pride, there are times of great sorrow, the fog of war narrows the vision of the larger picture and even though there are generally numbers of soldiers with you on a mission, you can still feel alone. To get a feeling of this, go to Downtown Crossing and stand there for a few minutes, so many people, and yet you are alone in your thoughts, it is an eerie feeling, you want human contact, but can’t have it because of social norms. But the fog of war often breaks, you know that the individual near you is trying to save not only his/her life, but yours as well, just as you are trying to save theirs. I’ve see men do things that were unbelievable, just to make sure a fellow soldier was covered or taken care of. We were all “green”, because of our uniforms. We fought together, we kept watch over each other and every man I served with did heroic things that many never received a single accolade; we knew we could trust each other, not much else mattered than that.

I took an oath on 17Jan69 to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. I don’t know who look at this the same way I do, but once I took that oath it was for a lifetime, oaths don’t “expire”, it is something you make that lasts through one’s life. As a member for Veterans For Peace, I am more worried about domestic enemies than I am about foreign one’s we’ve gone out of our way to create. Domestic enemies are crawling out of the woodwork, generally calling themselves “patriots”; most have never served this nation in a military capacity and I find it reprehensible that citizens would go into a situation, armed and in direct violation of federal law to espouse their ideology, which is a very sick twisting of the Bill of Rights.

From now on, when someone thanks me for my service, I will answer, “you’re welcome, but I’m still defending the Constitution, until it is safe, my job is not done”

Peace,

Bob

April 22, 2014

Points to Ponder on Military Extravagance

 

I find it difficult for people to simply accept what they hear on TV, the radio or read in conventional newspapers. The idea that we must spend more on defense is insane to say the least. No other nation can attack us conventionally, there are some issues with terrorist attacks, but the idea that we can be invaded in the traditional sense is nothing less than insane. We could easily cut 1/3 of our military budget and remain safe from attacks. If we actually did things properly, we would not have to worry about outside terrorist attacks either, in fact, our biggest problem with terrorism is hate groups already well established in the US comprised of disgruntled citizens.

I recall Reagan ordering USS Missouri recommissioned at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Big MO ran on oil, it cost an incredible amount to just have her churn up the sea, not to mention the man power required, training, upgrades and a host of other things…just so Reagan could take a page from nearly a century earlier from Teddy Roosevelt’s book, when battleships were the kings of the sea. They lost that status with the advent of aircraft carriers and missiles that could be fired from 50+ miles away sending them to the bottom.

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe we need to defend our nation, but to my point of view, this is a bit overkill. We have F-35’s at some $65M a pop that can’t even fly, we have F-22’s where pilots pass out from anoxia, some have refused to fly the F-22 because nothing short of a crash dummy can survive the flight. We are contracting ships that start taking on water the moment they are launched because of cheap foreign steel and poor welding. Ground troops have to carry so many items they can barely move in close quarters where a good portion of the fighting goes on. I carried two canteens of water, a couple of belts of M-60 ammo, an M-16 or M-14 depending on the mission and a tee-shirt and a pair of Army issued jungle cammies/greens. I sat on my flak jacket because I did not wish to lose my heritage to the rounds that came trough the floor of the slick I was in; (it was amazing the punishment those birds could take). Just as today, we looked for things to make out lives just a little easier…and longer lasting.

We searched for things “out of place”, what had moved? Was there new earth to be seen where a hole had been dug? Was a tree bent a certain way? We use all of our senses, were insects chirping or silent? Were birds moving through the trees and chirping, or suddenly a flock take off from their perches? Did monkeys seem inordinately noisy, you got to use everything, a breeze would send the scent of fresh shit your way, you can tell the difference between human and animal shit, after all, it’s what you eat. LRRP’s would spend a week or more eating local food, never touching anything from the US, you had to stink like the area you were in. You could smell Ivory soap at 300+ meters.

We wasted an incredible amount of ammo, the “Mad Minute” alone used a battalions worth of ammo during that small amount of time, and it did no good, after being caught once at sundown, the VC/NVA  just hunkered down behind a berm, rocks or anything else until it was over. No one was scratched, but it made us feel good, somewhat safer. But we still had to double the sentries and send out more listening posts. Outside the wire, it was a different world, and woe be to the man who forgot the sign/countersign.

Napalm, White Phosporus, ( Willie Pete), Agent Orange, numerous and sundry chemical exposures of unknown forms creating diseases of unknown etiology, (some still unknown), that manifest themselves in various cancers, glandular disorders and a host of other problems that are some 40-50 years later making themselves known. In our current debacles, we have “depleted uranium”, designed to punch through armor; since the Afghans have little to no armor, it is used on people and their homes. The residual effect is a radioactive nightmare that kills silently and deforms children while still in the womb, leaving faceless, legless, armless replicas of what should be a healthy baby. Nightmarish photos exist of disastrously deformed babies, paid for by our tax dollars.

But we have these things now, so we use them. What nightmare situations are in our near and if we survive, distant future?

War is expensive, you use a bullet, rocket, artillery round but once, then you have to get more, the cycle continues, built on the false hope that war can “cure” war. What “cures” war is Equality, Justice and a motivation to lay down the arms we use to kill and maim others. It takes us to another level of communication, where intellect is king, not who has the heavier tank, or bigger nuclear device. If we are all to be free from war and skirmishes we need to understand the needs of people and act to make those needs accessible. Food, clothing and a place to live top the list. Taking care of these three things would move us closer to Peace, We can then fine tune the outcome, help with irrigation, seeds for edible plants, factories to make clothes and other items, concrete to build homes sturdy enough to withstand desert storms. No more exploitation of the locals, no more empire building, no more theft of resources, no more killing.

Peace,

Bob

 

April 11, 2014

Corruption To The Core

I suppose I should not be surprised by anything any more, but there seems to be no limit on the “oh-shit-ometer”, with a Federal Judge stating in a ruling that killing American citizens by drone is Constitutionally protected behavior. We have stepped into some very ugly territory, and we’re not looking to history for a viable answer.

Using history, recent history, we should be quite capable of realizing that bombing people, attacking nations and domination of sovereign states never works out well, and a lot of people die and are maimed for life for nothing more than making others more wealthy than they already are. Our forays into this world of war have been disastrous, The Great War, (WWI), did nothing but produce the elements that would bring on WWII. Sanctions against Japan threatened that country’s existence, when the military, the source of power in Japan at the time, decided they were doomed if the US retained the sanctions for raw materials, there appeared to be no option other than open warfare to get what they needed. Pearl Harbor sent us into an all compassing war at virtually ever angle that could be imagined. The only source of salvation  we had was that we had enough distance between us and Europe and Asia to keep us from being directly attacked on the mainland.

The Cold War gave us Korea, Vietnam, forays into Europe, Africa and South America, and, as an extension the current fiascoes in the Middle East. All of which could easily have been dealt with diplomatically as opposed to force of arms. The only thing that comes from all of this, is more death and destruction, more maiming and expenditures on the military that are ludicrous. All of this is happening because we have a media that is spoon-feeding us trash, calling it “news”, and an ill informed population cannot make intelligent choices about their futures. We have exceptional schools that are defunded and left to make it on their own, our investment is our children, and we need to protect that investment with education and a broad knowledge base, we are failing our prodigy.

I fully admit that my generation, the “Baby Boomers”, dropped the ball on a host of issues and have remained so fully engrossed in personal gain above all else, that we are in the process of killing the only place we know of  where human life can flourish in the universe. We all seem to come together when disaster hits close to home, never before has disaster been this close for the humans on this planet, essentially because we spend fortunes on destructive behavior and a pittance on constructive behavior. We need to bring all of this to a halt and do what we can to bring people together to work on this problem before we incinerate ourselves. War is not the answer, it is devised to bring in fortunes to those who invest in the destruction of others, could there be a more blatant description for this murder?

What I find very disturbing is the notion that it is “legal” to execute someone w/o a trial, (for the record, I find executions appalling in the first place, but anyone, anywhere being assassinated is particularly nauseating.) How can outright murder be considered “legal” under the Supreme Law of the Land, The Constitution we  have all been taught to look at in awe by it’s wisdom. In the Japanese Constitution, essentially a copy of our own to a degree, there is Article 9, which forbids Japan to go to war; why didn’t we add an “Article 9” in our  Constitution?  Why is it that very few countries have something akin to Article 9?

Going to war, then seeking revenge when things go awry seems to be the current mode of thought, both here and in other places. How many lives would have spared the many agonies of war if we took a few minutes to challenge the idea of picking up a sword every time someone says something “offensive”? I think we well may be the thing we fought against during WWII, central governments that are essentially dictatorships, with the “leader” having complete power over life and death, I don’t want to look in the mirror and have an SS image looking back at me!

It appears to me that we need to do some serious thinking at this juncture. We have literally given up many Rights protected under the Constitution already, our highest court has decided against citizens many times in the past, but never before has there been such an onslaught radical decisions as we have seen in the past twenty years, particularly since 2001. It has been easy to wonder what, if anything, these nine individuals are thinking when they make decisions that have a negative effect upon the people. In some cases, such as the question of  “corporate personhood”, goes back to the the 19th Century, we could change this by Amending the Constitution, but the rub is, congress will do nothing if it interferes with the cash flow they get from corporate entities.

How many more must die in order for us to realize that killing people is atrocious when at war, but actually assassinating targeted people is a war crime, as we tried to show the world during the Nuremberg Trials? I think we can recover from this, but it will take a lot of work, the framework is place, we need to expend energy in positive ways that benefit all, not the elite. We can, and will eventually rise to this challenge, we’ve done it before, many of us are working on it now. We must all come together in our desire to have Equality and Justice, for then, we will have Peace. To be an activist means you have to be active, and effectually work for the good of the citizens of this nation and all nations.

April 5, 2014

Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

This evening, about 35 people showed up on a blustery,chilly Dewey Plaza to remember Martin Luther King’s 46 anniversary of his untimely demise. King was shot while standing on a balcony at a Memphis TN hotel. We remembered a powerful speaker and man of Peace. A man who could see past color or national origin and find the good in people.

In contrast to the day he was shot, in Boston, it was cold, windy and a little rain fell. VFP and other groups were represented, several songs were sung, reminding us of the universality of music and it’s transcendence into the hearts and minds of people. VFP flags fluttered in the wind, people were bundled up against the chill, we stood across from South Station with our backs to the Red Line entryway. At least the wind was cut by 2/3’s.

Many years ago, I saw Dr King live in front of the Lincoln Memorial, (quite fitting), discussing truth to power. He had many great things to say that day, and being a NY’er, I had plenty of friends from all over the spectrum of humanity. Dr King had taken his theme and changed it a bit, he no longer was using a racially divided nation along a black/white divide, but had made his issue one of human rights, once that change was made, momentum picked up for the cause of Equality. Who can argue against Human Rights, except a tyrant?

He also questioned our involvement in Vietnam and other places where we building an empire, sadly, this is when he quite literally signed his own death warrant. His aides had asked him to steer clear of these issues, but the moral fabric of the man could not let it go, so many things were intertwined with that age. People were still calling others “communists”, “socialists”, “anarchists” and a host of other things that were specifically engaged upon to denigrate people who did not “fit in”.

Let me go back for a moment to the “I Have A Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I heard some words that were burned into my conscience that day, and they hold true today; “…a day when men will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  The power of that single line is so immense that most people cannot, or will no fathom it.

Character, Integrity, Honesty, Justice, Equality, these are not merely words, they are a way of life, giving us power over the individuals who would control us at any cost. We have this power, we must use it to expose the hypocrisy and lack of morality the “leaders” profess to have. The power of one man or woman speaking out against the darkness is enough to bring light into world. Speak truth to power, and power withers away.

We stood today in honor of a man who gave the last measure of his devotion on a terrace in Memphis. Let us carry that dream on from this day forward, never forgetting that while we may lose a few things along the way, they can never take from us our dignity or integrity, our character.

Thank you,

Peace,

Bob

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