Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

August 26, 2014

Conflict (Warning graphic pics)

    

 

The recent murder of James Foley has me in a deep conflict, deeper and darker than I care to go, but I can’t keep myself from thinking of much other than revenge for this murder, but against an entire group ISIS/ISIL appears to be the epitome of evil. They murder without mercy, sell women and children off as slaves, they claim a religious basis for this, but I’ll be damned if I can find one from the Muslims and Qur’an Scholars I’ve spoken with who even come close to agreeing with that.

I fully admit that I am as far from religion as a person can get, but I most certainly have a spiritual side that drives me, almost always for the good of the people around me. What would I do, if I could do anything, to alleviate the suffering ISIS/ISIL has brought upon so many? Could I make a passionate argument that what they were doing was in direct conflict with what is the basis of all of the great religions? Could I get them to stop their slaughter long enough to see that they are in direct conflict with their own religion? I am pretty sure I would suffer greatly for my points of view.

It is the impunity with which they have gathered this storm together that bothers me more than anything. In all of the Middle East, not one nation is condemning these people from what they are doing. This is a huge WTF moment! This small band of thieves and liars became a force because honest people within their region did not call them out on their insanity in the beginning.  They get recruits by paying them, something the nations in the region seem incapable of doing for their own citizens.  Flash point after flash point rises from the dust of the desert, some, which were huge news just a week ago, have been relegated to secondary or tertiary status because this rogue element makes for “good copy”.

Is it right for me to wish to bring the same amount of fear they bring to others to them, or perhaps an extra dose of  fear. It is easy to sit here in Boston and safely write about these things, but they bring up the rumblings of my past, the desire to exact vengeance which I have struggled with for 40+ years. To kill a man is a dreadful thing, even when that man acts like a rabid animal. I sincerely doubt this group of black garbed, masked cowards would sit around a campfire singing Cumbayah. There is so much of evil in these people I find it difficult to comprehend; even in my worst days on the battlefield would I act like these people? How can I, as a Veteran For Peace, deal with monstrous acts on a scale that is growing daily?

I can find no empathy for these people, but I have plenty of empathy and sympathy for those who are being summarily abused by these thugs. I try to find some small shred of goodness in everyone, but I cannot find a sliver of goodness in ISIS/ISIL, it is evil personified in an area that is already a keg of dynamite ready to explode. Sleep comes with great difficulty, for while it is night here, it is day there, and the evil moves forward with each dawn. How can I sleep when I know women and children are being sold into slavery, men of all ages are slaughtered in ditches? It is a damned if you do, damned if don’t moment. Christ, I’m damned!

I can think of one way where we could help, starting with Gaza, open up the area for humanitarian aid. Once the people in the region see that we can be as good as our word, we can utilize humanitarian aid to open more areas that need as much, if not more than Gaza. Bring in other nations, not just European nations, but Middle Eastern nations, African and South American nations, Asian nations all coming to the aid of a beleaguered speck of land. We can act globally to end this nightmare and the positives will build upon the positives, nations will realize they can work together for the betterment of mankind.  Food, water, shelter, medicine the four basic elements everyone needs can be brought in. In the longer run, we can build desalinization plants for irrigation and a level of production where people can subsist on their own. We’d need a powerful UN force to guard the lines of communication and distribution, that is possible, even if it is might seem a little rough and tumble from time to time. Each time ISIS/ISIL makes a move, we counter it internationally, giving them the option of cessation of hostilities or face capture and imprisonment for life for crimes against humanity. We could bring families back together, finding out who had “bought” the slaves ISIS/ISIL “sold”, (owning or selling human beings is an international crime).

This is a huge effort and is fraught with possibilities of things going terribly wrong, but could they be worse than what is happening now wherever ISIS/ISIL has left its imprint?

On the other hand, we could just target them and be done with it, but is that justice or retribution? This is where I’m conflicted, I want justice, but retribution sounds so tempting.

Perhaps I’m not damned after all.

Bob

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August 22, 2014

Soldiers Are Always Lonely, Even In the Company Of Other Soldiers

Behind the facade of the “winner” in a war, (just by surviving you’ve “won”), there are millions of lonely men and women who have seen enough to last 10 lifetimes. We are rapidly losing our WWII and Korean vets, the last American Great War vet Frank Buckles died Feb 27, 2011 at the age of 110. Here was a man that saw the end of WWI, the beginning of every war since.

 

I often wonder who will be the last veteran of WWII will be, and will his/her memories be preserved. Korea, Vietnam, the Middle Eastern fiascoes, we need to point out to the young people of today that war is a horrible thing, the closest a person can get to hell here on earth.

Veterans, regardless of branch of service can speak to other veterans with a knowledge that some things they’ve witness have no words to accurately describe what they saw and did, no dictionary no thesaurus possesses the words necessary for an accurate description of the horrors of war. What is spoon fed to the civilian population is old John Wayne movies where every American is a hero and all perceived enemies are cowards or fools, (or worse yet and old Signal Corps film with Ronald Reagan declaring, ‘don’t let your dick look like this!’ while showing a syphilitic penis). The enemies at the time were just as wily as we were, often more so, and they were as brave, if not braver than many Americans.

We are taught to suppress our emotions and I think that is a terrible disservice to the nation as a whole. Most assuredly, those who are awarded the higher decorations, the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, help to create the hero “myth”. This is not to denigrate what they did, but I know that many men and women rest in military cemeteries who did things that were far and away above the call of duty and they received a stone or bronze plaque without the slightest idea of what they did or how they died.

Those of us who survived, recall the names and faces of the forever young, we know what they did, the sacrifices they made so that others may live. Every night, I recall certain things, one is the first man I shot, the first shot I took at a human being and hit him in the forehead, he was dead before he hit the ground. Another poignant point in my life is when a junior medic stuck his pinky in my carotid artery and spoke to me all the way through that Dustoff flight, “You ain’t gonna die on my watch Sarge!” His voice seemed strangely distant, but his face was just about touching mine. I didn’t die because a young black PFC wasn’t going to let me die. How many more like me are out there? Saved by a fellow soldier, often at the cost of life or limb, simply because we had a duty and dedication to one another?

The words may not be there, but there is a gut feeling for all who have served, we know. That knowledge should not be wasted, we need to have service members speaking out against war, shutting down the chickenhawks wherever they raise their ugly heads and squeal about the “necessity” of war.

Personally, the only “necessities” I needed in the Army was coffee and cigarettes.

Peace,

Bob

July 21, 2014

Gaza, Israel

Filed under: The Human Cost of War — bobfunke @ 2:26

With their backs against the river, cut off from virtually any land passage, the inhabitants are in the same position Santa Ana found himself  at San Jacinto. Sam Houston commanded a battle that lasted 15 minutes and chased the Mexican Army out of their original territory for good. I use this analogy because of what happened when Santa Ana was caught and brought before a wounded Houston sitting against a tree immediately following that battle. Houston was asked whether, shooting, hanging, dismembering or a host of other things should/could happen to Santana Ana. Houston, without hesitation,  stated another death would solve nothing, “send him home boys, send him home”.

Gaza is in the same position that Santa Ana’s troops are in; facing overwhelming odds, backs to the sea, no escape from land, little chance of aid from foreign powers, they await what could be annihilation, which is intolerable. Can Netanyahu summon up the same courage and Wisdom as Sam Houston did at San Jacinto? I don’t think so, there appears to be a hardened aspect to this man to use power and force when discussion and empathy would work far better.

I’m not saying Hamas has nothing to do with this, lobbing a few essentially inert missiles at Israel, (or anywhere else), does nothing for the common cause or peaceful resolution. There are a lot of guilty parties here, but the main players are the Palestinians and the Israeli’s. Arms makers/dealers make fortunes off of these situations. Personally, I think anyone who makes a profit off of  war should have to fight in that war, up close, front line duty living in ditches eating food that barely keeps you alive and fighting off a determined enemy. Instead, these people sit in well adorned Board  rooms and have their accountants run the figures past them.

I don’t care what entity started this, I care immensely on what entity will find a resolution without the taking of even more lives. A number of things must happen though. Take down the barriers around Gaza, drop the blockade to allow humanitarian aid to enter, food, medicine, clothing, housing materials and the like.

Hamas, stockpile your missiles, Israel, back off from the border and stack arms. Prepare for long term talks, even though much that divides you is superficial, there are deep roots in hatred. Break down the notion that someone other than yourselves is “on your side”, few if any outsiders will fill the ranks of either side; we may talk a good game, but we are not threatened, so we chant and have meetings that have little to no effect on the outcome. What we are doing is showing our disgust in the wars that appear to be unceasing, without any attempt to end any war, much less all wars.

Palestinians have as much right to live as the Israeli’s, or anyone else for that matter. This form of slow genocide must end. Break down the barriers, stop the fighting. Find that forgiveness is much  more rewarding that spite and hate.

Bob

 

 

 

 

June 30, 2014

“The Best War Fought, Is The One That Is Never Fought.”

The above quote is attributed to Sun-Tzu, essentially his “Rule #1”.

There is a phenomenal amount of wisdom in those 10 words, it’s kind of a shame that the “smartest species on earth” appears to lack much, if any wisdom. The taking of a life is never a pleasant thing except to sociopaths or psychopaths. Let’s make sure we understand something here, very knowledgeable people in various disciplines have looked at the problems of war and bloodshed and while innumerable “answers” are to be found, we still have the basic situation that Sun-Tzu tried so hard to avoid, war.

Sun-Tzu was a brilliant Chinese general who could see things through a prism like view as opposed to black/white. The times called for some dramatic measures, Sun-Tzu met them all and apparently never lost a  battle, nor a discussion if the latter were an option. Diplomacy should always take center stage and be the primary resource. Except in the most extreme of cases should we turn to armed conflict, which segues into “Rule #2”, “Know your enemy”.

Before we commit, we need to have intelligence and what mental or physical barriers are in already in place, what the culture is or the capabilities of any supposed enemies. War should never be taken lightly, if necessary we need to have the big picture, we can only get that perspective through knowledge and intelligence. We would have never wound up in the Middle East if we had looked into a situation that had been around for over a thousand years with little change; we went in like bullies, we’re being treated like bullies, should we expect more?

In the relatively recent past, (1940’s), we had little comprehension of Japanese culture, but we knew they relied upon us for raw materials for production. In our blind ignorance we thought the Japanese were a nation comprised of people who lived in wooden and paper house and looked down upon them because their Emperor was a “god”. Little did we realize what sacrifices would be made to protect the “god” image. We were not on tune with Japanese society.

In the more  recent past, (1960’s), we failed to understand that since WWII and the extraction of the Japanese from Indo-China that Ho Chi Mihn was an avid ally of the US and thought our Constitution was a work of wonder. What he asked the Truman administration for was a sovereign nation, free from French domination, Truman ignored this, as did Eisenhower and Johnson. After the French were beaten at Dien Bien Phu, Johnson came up with the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to keep the Vietnamese a divided nation.

OK, all of this is history, but the point of the matter is that none of these wars needed to be fought, no lives lost, no defoliation for generations , no pain, no hard feelings; and since so many things are tied together, we may have been able to find ways to get along with each other, either locally or worldwide. The wars need never have been fought.

The Great War was begun with 2 shots that killed Archduke Ferdinand and dis wife Sophie, on June 28 1914; yes 100 years ago. From then on we have been in a constant state of turmoil, skirmish after skirmish, war after war. Of course, wars have been around as long as there have been groups of people that had something another wanted. However, The Great War was something new, massive amounts of material and man hours could now be used to kill on a scale never before seen, we had industrialized war; the rivers of blood would now overflow as never before.

Weapons were brought forth that killed at great distances and the civilian populations, wanting nothing to do with war, would now become a greater part of the carnage than ever before. Noncombatant deaths rose dramatically and the ruthlessness of all sides would be shown to the world. After the Great War, the world was divided into many parts, most having nothing to do with another creating post war animosity that lasted for a generation, just enough time to rebuild armies and navies for Round 2, The Second World War. For the record, in 1928, the United States refused to be a signatory, along with Japan  to end all war, almost immediately, that treaty was broken. Not with Pearl Harbor, but with tribal fighting and countries trying to rid themselves of being part of an empire.

The Communist, or “Red scare” had been around for quite some time. Trade Unions, Textile Unions and many other Unions and organized labor were constantly attacked for trumped up charges, basically because they were against war and empire building. Hundreds died as spies, thugs and hired guns, as well as police departments, National Guard units and the regular Army were called out to “force ” people to work for pennies. Most Americans were against going into the The Great War, but corporations and the wealthy saw great profit in outfitting the warring nations. American corporations placed their bets on both sides, making huge amounts of cash and cutting worker pay. The wealthiest Americans were more than happy to lend cash for arms at exorbitant rates, paying for the deaths of people they would never know or care about. Is there a greater evil than to make money from behind a desk while millions spill their blood in senseless charges or be buried in trenches hit by artillery, what were the last thoughts of those who died buried alive, while men in glorious rooms counted their gold? Henry Ford sued the US govt for detroying his plants in Germany, and won! He and others thought Hitler and Mussolini “were on to something” and great sums of money was funneled to Germany to prepare for WWII

Unions were at the forefront of the Peace movement trying to keep us out of the Great War. Americans were sick of war, the Civil War took 600,000 American lives, entire family lines were wiped out, and when Booth shot Lincoln, he doomed the South to 12 years of extreme misery. As  the aftermath of every calamity of such scale, people despise war and killing; we still had more during the Indian Wars. The end of the Great War though brought about a chance to end all war, but the money rolled in. American banksters and corporations bankrolled Hitler as well as the British, leaving France pretty much on it’s own, just to fill the coffers of those who have built their lives on greed and avarice. Have any of these men ever worn a uniform, faced the fire of a fellow human being hell bent on killing them?

Understanding is the key to wisdom. Realizing that some people wish to live in their own spheres is essential to understanding and realizing that “our” way may not be the “best ” way, empire building always fails, no empire has ever lasted, none ever will, they are built on sand and doomed from the first stone that is laid.

We can change all of this though, we can bring about a peaceful, just world where people get along. It takes planning, discipline and a capability to maintain a keen eye on the goal. It sounds pretty easy, but the forces against us have the power to divide us, make us question why we would want to change. In the past, the powers of the time used spies, thugs, scabs, law enforcement, agents provocateur and even the military in certain situations. I have a particular dislike that the same army I was in would fire upon American citizens, it is one of the most reprehensible things our military could do. This has happened before, on several occasions where coal miners were striking and National Guard units were called and machine gunned the  workers. Then there is the infamous “MacArthur Moment” when Herbert Hoover called out the military to clear out the “Hoovervilles” that popped up during the Bonus Marchers in DC. MacArthur was told not to cross the Anacosta River, but he did, with infantry,cavalry and tanks. It takes discipline to face forces such as these, and maintain the group as a whole, but it can be done. Kent State. Let’s not forget a single Chinese man standing in front of tanks at Tianamen Square, we need that kind of strength of character.

What we lack in firepower, (for the record I am against violent revolution), we make up in integrity. The knowledge that we are right in our views is an overlooked aspect that brings great strength during desperate times. It is that integrity that the powers cannot fight directly, they have to undermine it and it our duty as citizens too maintain that integrity. One way to maintain our integrity is to use our Rights within the Constitution, in particular the First Amendment that guarantees our Right to peaceably assemble for  redress our governmental  grievances and through our collective voices we can do this. History has shown us that time is on our side so we must persevere regardless of threats or intimidation.

We need fight no one, we are looking for the “best” way of ensuring we are heard and changes made that benefit everyone, so this should be a “war” based on ideology, truth to power and exposing those who have failed us in the past and in the present. Agitate, motivate, anticipate.

When I put up my right hand to swear allegiance, a portion was to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” That oath is still apart of my life, it doesn’t expire, I have come to realize that domestic enemies under many different guises are a far greater threat than foreign enemies. I’ll stand my ground, and hope you will as well.

Peace,

Bob

June 28, 2014

So I went down, to the demonstrations, (6-28) Warning, graphic pics.

iraq8

Slate/Daniel Politi

View image on Twitter

Jenan Moussa

View image on Twitter

Zaid Benjamin 

(apologies to the Rolling Stones for hijacking that line)

Park St Station: we had most of the usual crowd, but we did get some people to stop and listen for a while, planting the seeds of Peace one person at a time. We did have a heckler w/the usual, “they’ll be here” propaganda. He was engaged by a member, but I got that into a disengagement. I’m of the opinion that no one ever changed someone’s mind by arguing with them, discussion works at times but arguments just blow things further out of proportion. Besides, we get far more accolades than hecklers, which shows me people are waking up.

At 2 PM, there was supposed to be something at the Statehouse, a glance up there showed me that whatever it was was either cancelled or just didn’t exist.

So……a group of us trotted off to City Hall Plaza, where we waited by the T entrance for 45 minutes w/o anyone showing up. Lo and behold, the Iraqi anti-ISIS was on the other side of the plaza, appropriately I thought, across from the Holocaust Memorial. Perhaps I’m a little too in tune with irony, but while people chanted I thought that the numbers etched into the glass at the Memorial each was a human being; we should have more memorials, one for the Native Americans that were slaughtered, one for the Cambodians slaughtered under Pol Pot. One for the Vietnamese we slaughtered, one for the Iraqi’s we’ve killed, the Afghans, Palestinians who can’t get food and medicine and are dying a horribly slow death. The list could go on, but the point is, human beings have done such damage to other human beings, I’m actually amazed any of us still survive.

At the back edge of City Hall, we found the anti-ISIS demonstration, albeit a little late. I unfurled the VFP flag and there were many smiles from the Iraqi’s. They had brought children, some in strollers, and I thought that children, women and men, still in Iraq were being killed by some radical cowards known as ISIS, (or ISIL if you prefer). Some of the more graphic pictures were reminiscent of the Holocaust and My Lai, people in ditches being shot to death, (there’s that irony again). Men, women and children being murdered while some sick SOB took pictures or filmed the horrific event. The executioners were all in black, to include ski masks, (cowards once again), sickly using their power to bring death to innocent people who merely thought differently than them.

Iraq is a sovereign nation, (I think), at this point. It has the right to defend itself against attack, but if the Army is going to fold at the first shot, what good is it?

Thousands threw off their uniforms and fled, this against a few hundred ISIS members. I have been in firefights where we were out numbered, but good tactical decisions and an eye for the weak spot made a surefire loss into a win. If the Iraqi Army had stood it’s ground with it’s thousands of soldiers in a good defensive position, ISIS would have paid dearly for their invasion, in fact, they may well have been wiped out. But the Army that was trained by the US, (under Bremer), turned tail and ran. Near as I can figure, that is not a good tactic to be written up in any Field Manual. By some sources, the Iraqi defense forces at the border outnumbered ISIS 10/1, perhaps more. In most attacks on fortified defensive positions you want at least 5/1; ISIS should have been taken out as a force almost immediately, that can’t happen though if the defenders panic and resort to essentially a rout w/o even taking a few pot shots at the invaders.

With VFP flag waving in the breeze, I was not about to talk about expanding war, but I made VFP presence known and many in the community recognized the symbol, some even recognized me personally. As rallies go, this one was pushing violence just a tad, nothing radical like murdering all ISIS members, just expelling them from Iraq. To do that though, people are going to die,

I would find myself in a bad position advocating death and war, even though I believe that Iraq has the right to defend itself. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite; but the T-shirt and flag were out there, reminding people that we look for peaceful solutions to ugly problems.

So that was my day, interestingly, things went off on time and people got to where they wanted to be w/o 17 other things going on that garners 2 or 3 people each. Communication works when done well.

My best to all, wishing you long and prosperous lives free from war and hatred,

Bob

June 11, 2014

“Friendly Fire”, no service member ever wants to hear those words.

The loss of five Americans and a Pakistani to “Friendly Fire” is a tragedy in itself, the bigger questions are, “How and Why did this happen?”

I heard on the radio today that a B-1 bomber was used on the raid to break the firefight. A lot of things have changed since I was in the Army, but using as AF FAC, (Forward Air Controller), seems a bit much to me for such a small patrol. In most cases, smaller units depend on mortars, artillery and rotary wing aircraft for these types of operations. To me, calling in 4.2 in mortar rounds in rapid succession in a bracketing attack would have been much faster, more accurate and could have set up a “ring of fire” for the extraction of friendlies. Dropping a round every 6-10 seconds from 8 4.2’s would have been devastating for the attacking forces. Artillery takes a little more time and an error factor increases , but the real problem I have is where were the rotary aircraft such as Apaches, Blackhawks, etc that can pinpoint attacks eye to ground?

Generally, when one calls in higher firepower, you move behind the Red Line, the spot that protects your people from short or errant rounds, if you’re surrounded, you bring people in for protection of each other, passing of ammo and make orders easier to understand and a host of other reasons; making the enemy come to you has great advantage in most situations.

Let me bring you up to speed here, the B-1 is a strategic bomber originally designed to replace the B-52, it is a sweep-wing, sub/supersonic aircraft that hold either nuclear or conventional bombs. Obviously, no nuke was used here, but why call in such massive firepower, when other means were available? Here are some images of what was used and what could have been used to extricate the soldiers being pressed.

  

The first is a B-1, the second, an Apache, the 3rd, the A-10 Warthog.

I have no idea how many bombs were dropped by the B-1, but it really does appear to be overkill, and there is no visual contact with the target(s).

In just a few minutes, (which can seem like years during a firefight), any one could have been called in for help. Encircling the enemy with mortar fire can be devastating, specifically as you bring your line of fire in closed. A mortar round can be dropped in just seconds, and you can get a lot of out there very quickly.

A lot of things could have happened that brought about this tragedy, maps misread, bad coordinates, bad info put into the fire control computers, the list can go on.

As an old NCO, I learned the basics and beyond of finding out where you are and where you should be, on maps that could give you a 16 digit grid, putting you within 25 meters. Technology is fine, until it fails; at that point you had better know your way around a map, the terrain, the possibility of hostiles and they’re weapons at their disposal. The most high tech item I used were night vision goggles, I found binoculars better, (wider view).

I don’t know who ordered a B-1 strike, but they should be pushing a broom in the motor pool at this point. (I’d love to see a bird colonel with a broom in his paws!)

The easiest way for this to never happen again, is to end the war; end all war. In the mean time, I suggest we get some competent people out there, because no one should bury one of their own because of  “friendly fire”. End war, end killing and maiming…and the next “victory” parade that trots down 5th Ave, should be led by victims on litters, then wheelchairs, then prosthetic devices and finally flags and the “usual” parade…perhaps people will then comprehend the cost of war.

Peace,

Bob

May 8, 2014

The Depths of Human Depravity

 

Just when I think that there can be nothing worse than the Holocaust or the Killing Fields in Cambodia, something new pops up and I wonder just how low some people can go to reach a new level of depravity, it appears that Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram has hit a new low in being the leader of the group that has kidnapped some 300 girls and is prepared to sell them into slavery, (some have been reported as being sold for $12).

Shekau and his band of thugs, apparently using Islam as it’s justification, is nothing more than a slave trader, something virtually everyone should find despicable. Using a religion to offer up human beings to be brides, workers or anything else is abhorrent. I can’t even call this monster a human being, nor the thugs that pass themselves off as Muslims. Don’t get me wrong, virtually every society has done this at one time or another, usually under the guise of some religion; but here we are in the 21st Century and slime like this still exist.

If there was ever a use for surveillance drones, this is it. I do not want armed drones seeking out these people, particularly when innocents could be killed or maimed, but heat signatures and other technology could find the area where these people are and are being held, or what direction they are moving. Then, Nigeria can send in forces to bag Shekau and his “followers”, bag them and bring them before either a Nigerian or the World Court for crimes against humanity. Lock him up in a single, windowless cell for the rest of this life and his only human contact would be when he is fed. I do not want this man killed, that would make him a “martyr” to some, when locked away, he becomes a non-entity, a cast-off.

I can only hope that all of these girls are returned home, the Nigerian government appears powerless in this instance, they need to prepare better and react quickly when such things might happen. Nigeria can afford to upgrade it’s forces, especially for circumstances such as this.

Bottom line, we are all human beings deserving respect, dignity, education and protection from those who would do others harm, regardless of gender, place of origin, geographic place in the world, religion or many other things that “divide” us. When we come together against evil, truth, wisdom and goodness are the results.

These children of world deserve our attention as a worldwide community, not in military action, but as police action and taken through the courts. Safety and Peace for all should be the main goal. Let us end the depravity of the human species.

Bob Funke

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

 

March 31, 2014

The Cost of War is Often Unseen

Marin Luther King Jr, assassinated 4 Aprill 1968, Memphis TN

Malcom X, (born Malcom Little), assassinated on stage NYC 21 Feb 1965

Robert F Kennedy, assassinated 6 June 1968 Los Angeles, CA

John F Kennedy, assassinated 22 November 1963, Dallas TX

There is a connection between these 4 men, (and many others), they were all discussing getting out of Vietnam at the time of their demise. Malcom X , after his visit to Mecca, changed his tone dramatically and preached Peace as opposed to the violent reactions he had sought previously. This got him in trouble with Elijah Mohamed, and the assassination took place on stage, the perpetrators were never caught.

All of these men were eloquent and forcefully, using words to press home their ideology, denouncing violence, yet all died violently, their words could not be countered, so their lives were taken instead to silence them. There is often a terrible price to be paid for Peace.

On Friday, at Dewey Park, we will meet to honor Dr King. It is bittersweet, a man in his prime, reaching out for a goal and shot with a single bullet that took his life so long ago. But his, and the other’s dreams live on. It is up to us to pick up the torch and continue the journey. These men were casualties of an unpopular war, by proxy, only because they spoke out against war and proclaimed Peaceful change as the only way we can expect change for the better.

Using the words of another assassinated individual, John Lennon, 8 December 1980, NYC: “All we saying, is give Peace a chance.” May your journey through life be enlightened by those who came before us.

Bob

March 2, 2014

Eva Bartlett at the Community Church Boston on Palestine/Gaza Crimes

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On Friday evening, we received a rare treat in having Eva Bartlett from Human Rights and Justice for Palestine giving us a part of her speaking tour. She accompanies Gazan farmers and fishers under threat of harassment and threat of live fire from Israeli forces. During her presentation, she showed slides and films of how Gazans are treated on their own side of the border, being terrorized by Israeli forces through close shots, and in several cases there were wounds and killings. When people are out harvesting onions and parsley, and then hunted down as if they are “vermin”, (my term), it is nothing less that murder.

Gaza has been given very little wiggle room in how they can react to such atrocities. Their fishing area is a mere 3 miles off shore, when they need to get at least 12 miles off shore to find fish that is of edible size. Breeding habitats have been over-fished to the point where there are quite literally no fish left to catch. Israelis have bulldozed buildings, smashed crops into the ground, pulverized seedlings and treated the Gazans as if they had ho reason to exist.

I have taken middle ground on some of the issues that happen in the Middle East, as I find both sides guilty of terrible behavior, but after seeing this documentary, I have to wonder why one of the most abused people on the earth over periods of time, (Jews), suddenly find that they can abuse others at will. There is no difference in my mind of shooting someone in Auschwitz, or shooting someone picking a parsley crop; both are acts of murder. The Gazans post no true threat to Israel, all they want is to live peaceful lives as they have for a very long period of time. The encroachment of Israel into the Gaza Strip has created a situation that is untenable at best.  To be quite blatant about it, this has the wretched stench of genocide upon the who sordid affair. If any group of people should show mercy in situations like this, the history of the Jews bears witness to the horrors of genocide.

Ms Bartlett has had her boots on the ground, often facing fire during her research and documentation of what is happening in Gaza. I can attest to her bravery and humanitarian aspects during her work as an activist with the International Solidarity Movement.

Here are a few links you can go to find out more about her and the ISM work:

http://ingaza.wordpress.com/

evabarlett@hotmail.com

I cannot describe the horror, I had to hang my head at times, I have seen this before in a different era in another part of the world. Killing, war, maiming, destruction. It must stop.

Peace,

Bob

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