Veterans for Peace Radio Hour

August 15, 2014

Update: Ferguson MO/Mr. Brown

Fortunately, last night the county officers pulled back and the State Patrol took over by order of Governor Nixon, and during the night, there were no arrests or unseemly behaviors on the part of everyone involved. On the news this morning, I saw something I was hoping to see, white individuals getting involved in the call for justice. These are the times when all citizens need to be involved, when the county rolled out armored vehicles and snipers, things were out of control. The Captain speaking for the State Patrol is articulate and well informed, he’s not going to just blurb out some answers that people want to hear, he seems to be explaining the facts as we now know them. More will be coming after more is known.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of  the aftermath is that some looting took place, that appears to be one of the things that happens when some people can’t control themselves and use anything as an excuse to do damage. The vast majority of citizens held themselves in check and they deserve all of the respect we can give them.

It will be some time before we find out all of the facts in this case, however, the number of shots fired alone, particularly after the man is down, show me that the officer at the scene should be fired and brought up on criminal charges. Accounts vary, but several witnesses have come forward and spoken of what they saw. By all accounts, these witnesses are credible and their stories of the event match.

What we need to do now, is de-militarize PD’s. The “fire sale” events by the DOD have to stop. There is no need for a tank in Phoenix, (especially under that nutcase Arpaio), nor is there a need for an M-60A3 in Omaha or any other city in the US. A police department needs to be armed, but do they need to have military grade hardware? I’ve worked with a lot of military weapons, comes with the territory when you spend 13 years in the US Army, (even Medics like me want to try out things that go “bang”, but we used them on firing ranges, not real life scenarios, that would breach the Law of Land Warfare and UCMJ).

May the good people of Ferguson find solace and peace after a tragedy and may the rest of us learn that each life is precious.

Peace,

Bob

June 10, 2014

My take on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl…

No one, except Bergdahl himself knows what the experiences are he has had. After 5 years of being  a POW, abused and other assorted situations, (none of which we know anything about), leads to speculation, the wilder the better.

I know the following, SGT Bergdahl was a POW for five years, much of that time under threat of death or other means of degradation. How he became a POW is a mystery, but walking outside the wire is always hazardous, even for a squad or a platoon, much less an individual who appears to have come and gone as he pleased: (a serious breech of military protocol to anyone who has ever served).

Who let him out of the wire?, Where were the guards?  Who Was Sgt of the Guard at the time? Who was the NCOIC of the unit? Then we get into officer country; Who wad the OIC?, Why wasn’t he/she immediately informed, (particularly if this was a more than single occasion?)

The  “Why,Who, What, When and How’s” need to be answered in a truthful and distinct way. The military is well prepared for this under the UCMJ and Law of Land Warfare. We, especially those of us who served in one of our uniforms should not be second guessing and making ludicrous remarks about a situation we know nothing about. The media has us jumping at every drumbeat, and the “usual suspects” are there to condemn or condone depending on their own points of view, (without facts to back them up.)

There will be an “exhaustive” investigation, we might actually learn something from it; but I’m holding my cards close to my chest before I put down any bets. Five years is a long time for being a POW, one might think McCain would know that. Let’s give this kid some breathing room, a chance to meet back up with his family and the some time he has earned.

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

 

February 4, 2014

The Element of Fear

Throughout history, fear has been used as a tactic with great effect. This should be a given by now, most of us realize that we are constantly being lied to, to raise the level of fear thereby raising the level at which we must “combat” said fear.

Here is a reality, no nation, or coalition of nations can defeat this nation, we are so ridiculously armed we offer little more than raising hell around the world, getting into scraps and wars where we have no business. The Department of Defense has become the Department of Offense. Empire building has rarely been easier, and the American Empire, like all those who came before, is doomed to crumble into sand.

We are told to be afraid. Afraid of what? Two kids place homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon, the reaction was predictable; increased police presence and a MA National Guard Humvee at Park St, all show and no substance. 20 blocks were cordoned off as the police of varying Dept’s searched for the wounded, but surviving, “terrorist”. He was hiding in a boat on block 21, just a bit out of the search zone. Not just that, but the owner of the boat, coolly and calmly called the police to investigate after he had noticed that a tie down had been undone and when he checked under the tarp, there was the suspect.

What happened next makes me wonder just what page the varying PD’s and NG were on. We have a living suspect, from whom  we may be able to glean information from, (his brother was killed earlier, no chance for questioning there). Fear, breaking out as bravado as the boat was surrounded and someone gave the order to fire, and a hail of bullets and “flash/bag” pyrotechnics broke the silence of the night. The officers in charge literally tried to force the assassination of the “2nd bomber”; the question is “why?”

Was it to quell the fears they had brought forth to the public, or was it ensure any one else with similar ideas might be frightened enough to avoid doing something similar in the future? The truth of the matter is that none of us are completely safe at any given time. We prefer the illusion of safety, but every day I see people step out int traffic, cars not using signals or driving at night w/o their headlights on, (talk about scary!) I see parents pushing children in strollers, not watching around them at various hazards that could harm their children. Life is filled with challenges, some we can see, others come in the form of maniacs willing to kill, seemingly at will, at the drop of a hat. One problem with the Marathon bombing, is that it was preventable if the police had followed up on any of several leads; some from Russian authorities.

I decided long ago, I will not allow fear to guide my actions. When caught in an ambush, the correct response is to run right into it, get behind the ambushers and take them out or take prisoners. If you do what is “natural” and move away from the fire, you will be caught in a secondary trap, (we used Claymores, about 10 feet off the trail/road facing away from us. Hit the clicker and all hell breaks loose as 200 steel balls are propelled through the air by C-4 shredding virtually everything in their way, multiply this by a factor of 10 and one can see that the reaction to fear can be devastating.)

So what can we do to alleviate the “fear messages” that we are bombarded with every day?

For starters, we can look from where they come from. If it’s the government, or governmental entity, say the CIA, FBI, NSA, et al, for the most part, we can figure it’s a bogus report, they live by spreading rumors and lies to keep the dollars flowing into their coffers. State and local PD’s can fall into this trap as well. One thing we can remember, during the Clinton Administration, the WTC was attacked by a truck loaded with explosives. What broke the case? Good old fashioned police work and some luck. In fact, the same thing happened with the Oklahoma City bombing. Every one of us felt remorse as the acts were perpetrated, but we did not run in fear, we assisted where we could, an American tradition long held that we aid those that need it when they need it. We did not panic, we acted in the best interest of those whose lives were devastated.

We need to use good old fashioned police work to catch perpetrators, for all of the “intel” gathered, there is a pretty poor record of preventing disasters from happening. It was luck in Times Square that caught the car bomber, not “gee whiz” technology. It was police work and luck that caught the Unibomber, his brother turned him in, setting up the arrest. If one of my brothers was killing people, I’d turn him in myself, fortunately, I don’t have to face that choice, but to save lives, there would be no second thought to turn in a perpetrator.

Today, it seems as though everyone is a suspect of something, which is pretty ridiculous on the face of it. We don’t prosecute “thought crimes”, (thank god, or we’d all be behind bars eating gruel from the same bucket we’d be crapping in). My suggestion is, live your life to its fullest, don’t be led by biased individuals or groups, to include agencies of the government or PD’s. Understand that every day we take risks, but 99.9% of the time, those risks don’t turn into disasters. Don’t let fear run your life; if there is a “bomb scare” in New Mexico, why should people in Philadelphia worry about being blown to smithereens? Let the properly trained people in NM take care of the problem, most likely the problem will pass, either with nothing being found, or a highly trained bomb squad taking control and dismantling the thing.

If you are attacked by a lone gunman, (something that appears to be happening with increased frequency), prepare by having several options of escape or levels of protection. Don’t do anything stupid, but if you are behind a lone gunman, you can take him out. No one is going to convict you for assault if you plant a hammer in his head. Be careful, but don’t be fearful.

I wish you all days of Peace, prosperity and safety.

Bob

March 4, 2013

They are there…

Filed under: General Discussion — Tags: , , , , — bobfunke @ 2:26

Beneath Marble headstones and bronze plaques rest a percentage of gay and lesbian soldiers; having given the last full measure to their country. Virtually all of these men and women are unknown to us. We pass their graves barely thinking a thought other than the fact that they were soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Marines; small flags placed at each grave, we cannot visualize what they looked like and the sacrifices they went through…marble and bronze.

As we pass by the crosses, the Stars of David and Crests with Stars, we know little of those who rest there. An occasional BS, (Bronze Star), SS, (Silver Star), even a rare MOH, (Medal of Honor) a rank, branch of service; but something is missing, we know so little of these of these men and women. How many lovers shed tears when their loved one’s died? If a lesbian couple lost a loved one, who are we to judge the love they shared, they joy they had while they were together? If a gay couple were separated during battle where one died, who are we to judge the pain left by the survivor?

Love is love, no man, woman or child should be afraid to show emotion when a love one is lost. The little son of a “two mom family” will weep openly at the loss of one of their parents, but in the coldness of the world, we have yet to allow adults to do the same.

I can pretty well guarantee that under a stone, marked with a Medal of Honor, a gay soldier rests. I know the lesser awards for valor, or for no valor at all, have men and women who have served this nation as gays and lesbians. I am not asking that new devices be installed for those who were cut  down in their prime, no rainbow flags, (although that would be fine by me); no intertwined symbols of sexual orientation. What I am asking for is that all of those who were sacrificed upon the altar of war be treated honorably and respectfully.

We need to remember the hundreds of millions of civilians who have suffered terribly under war as well. For each headstone or bronze plaque, perhaps 500-1000 non-combatants suffered as well. Killed, displaced, maimed, they too are victims of endless wars. With mechanized war being driven from thousands of mile away by drones and people being targeted, we must recall that the shallow graves in foreign lands where so many have died and been maimed. We must recall that those who had nothing to do with hostilities are victims a well.

We are all human beings, we all deserve the same amount of dignity and respect, regardless of gender, gender identification, religion, place of origin, or the hue of our skin; we are brothers and sisters of this world and we need to make it work a hell of a lot better.

Peace,

Bob

 

March 3, 2013

Bradley Manning pleads guilty to 10 of 22 charges

Filed under: General Discussion — Tags: , , , — bobfunke @ 2:26

Caveat: I am no Legal Eagle, but for the life of me, I cannot figure why PFC Manning would plead guilty to any charge against him, especially since he can face 20 years for the charges he’s plead guilty to. The Army intends to press home for all charges under the UCMJ; if found guilty, Manning could face life in federal prison.

From the beginning of this case, when President Obama declared PFC Manning “guilty” without trial, as Commander in Chief, he stepped over the line committing the people of the United States to understand that Manning is a traitor. On the grounds of declaring Manning “guilty”, before all of the charges, much less a trial, the issue should have been dropped immediately and, all charges should have been dropped and Manning could have received a Bad Conduct or “for the good of the service” discharge. Since he has already been denied a “speedy trial”, 1000+ days in solitary confinement, (a clear misuse of the Rules of Courts-Martial and UCMJ), perhaps it would be in the best interest to just let PFC Manning go, free of charges. His life is going to be a living hell either in or out of federal prison in any case.

Accounts show that Manning attempted to go through his chain of command to show the abuses being made by the military. Essentially, out of frustration, PFC Manning went to various outlets to get the story of abuse out, finally getting Wilkileaks to publish the accounts. From there on, all hell broke loose.

War is hell, that is the reality of the monster. One might think we’d be far beyond using war to resolve our differences, but we cannot seem to learn that we are animals when it comes to waging  war. We denigrate our “enemies”, dehumanize them, it makes it easier to kill a human being when one does not think of that person as a human being. When pilots and boots on the ground talk about “torching” another human being, or consider them “bug splat”, it makes it easier to sleep at night. We are wiping out “vermin” as opposed to killing human beings.

What Manning saw and read sickened him, sickened him to the point where he felt that his chain of command should know what was happening, they paid no attention, they are a part of a machine of death, “body counts” still count. We did not learn during Vietnam that fighting this kind of war is futile at best. We did not understand our foe, just as we don’t understand those we fight today.

I do not yet know why Manning plead guilty to 10 of 22 charges, but I do know, that armed with those 10 guilty pleas, the government will go full force to “prove” the other 12.

This is not Justice, it is a vindictive military and government hellbent on destroying lives.

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