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

August 23, 2014

Sacco and Vanzetti 8-23-1927

 

 

 

This story has been told many times and is perfect conveyance for the dissolution of capital punishment.

Here is a link to the actual trial of the time, copyrighted by Felix Franfurter, from The Atlantic at the time, (it takes some time to read)

http://www.theatlantic.com/past/unbound/flashbks/oj/frankff.htm

What seems to be missing from most of the story is that hundreds of thousands of people across the nation felt that Sacco and Vanzetti were being framed for a crime they did not commit. In fact, the more “evidence” for the prosecution that came out, the larger the crowds became for the acquittal of the two men. In fact it became an international  causes célèbres, where just about everyone believes the accused are innocent, but the powers that be have so much invested, they refuse to back down. We see this today when minorities and poor whites are caught up in a system that is rigged against them, (just think of the drug charges brought against some, depending on county, state or jurisdiction, a person can get life for a joint, while others are tossed out of court for lack of merit.

The New York Times printed the story immediately following the executions:

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0823.html

For further reading of this situation that brought the two men to their men to their deaths, there is plenty to look around for, I chose the two articled linked because they give an accurate account during the time frame at what people were actually hearing. A loose end appears though, even before Sacco and Vanzetti were executed another man admitted to the robbery/killing, from wikipedia:

Madeiros confession[edit]

In November 1925, Celestino Madeiros, an ex-convict awaiting trial for murder, confessed to committing the Braintree crimes. He absolved Sacco and Vanzetti of participation.[86]In May, once the SJC had denied their appeal and Madeiros was convicted, the defense investigated the details of Madeiros’ story. Police interviews led them to the Morelli gang based in Providence, Rhode Island. They developed an alternative theory of the crime based on the gang’s history of shoe-factory robberies, connections to a car like that used in Braintree, and other details. Gang leader Joe Morelli bore a striking resemblance to Sacco.[87][88][89]

The defense filed a motion for a new trial based on the Madeiros confession on May 26, 1926.[81] In support of their motion they included 64 affidavits. The prosecution countered with 26 affidavits.[90] When Thayer heard arguments from September 13 to 17, 1926,[81] the defense, along with their Madeiros-Morelli theory of the crime, charged that the U.S. Justice Department was aiding the prosecution by withholding information obtained in its own investigation of the case. Attorney William Thompson made an explicitly political attack: “A government which has come to value its own secrets more than it does the lives of its citizens has become a tyranny, whether you call it a republic, a monarchy, or anything else!”[91] Judge Thayer denied this motion for a new trial on October 23, 1926. After arguing against the credibility of Madeiros, he addressed the defense claims against the federal government, saying the defense was suffering from “a new type of disease,…a belief in the existence of something which in fact and truth has no such existence.”[81][92]

Three days later, the Boston Herald responded to Thayer’s decision by reversing its longstanding position and calling for a new trial. Its editorial, “We Submit”, earned its author aPulitzer Prize.[93][94] No other newspapers followed suit.[95]

 

Today, 87 years to the day when two innocent men were sent to the electric chair, some states still feel that capital punishment is the answer. Since 1973, 244 death row inmates have been exonerated or had their charges reduced. How would you feel if you were innocent and were walking that last mile?

Peace,

Bob

 

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

August 14, 2014

Ferguson MO/Mr. Michael Brown

The universal sign of surrender, no threat The Right of the people to assemble peacefully What peaceful assembly brings about     At least 8  heavily armed police aimed at a single unarmed individual Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, holds a sign saying “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.”

Photos courtesy of buzzfeed News:  BuzzFeed Staff

Looking into the Ferguson situation, I see police overkill in so many instances. The first being the killing of an 18 year old man, Michael Brown; apparently shot in the head once and eight shots to his his body, all by a single police officer. As we learn more of the story behind this, it will not cleanse the wounds this neighborhood is scarred with, now and forever. I am a white male, Michael was a black male; I live near Boston, Michael lived near St. Louis, I am alive, Michael is dead, and for what? Putting one’s hands up is a universal sign of surrender, showing all around that you intend them no harm, you are unarmed and willing to allow a search of your person. It does not give carte blanche  for police to shoot you down, it is an act of submission, just as if a soldier carries a white flag, upraised arms are a signal of truce.

With all of the arms a police officer carries, a pistol, access to a shot gun, pepper spray, taser, handcuffs and zip ties, why did this officer go immediately for his firearm? More intriguing, precisely when was Michael shot in the head and eight shots fired into his body? This is classic “overkill” at it’s worst. When I was in the army, I would tell my guards under certain circumstances they had the order to use deadly force, if necessary. Rarely was  there any necessity to even come close to deadly force. I reminded them that a well placed shot to the femur or butt would place the intruder in a position where they could not escape, leaving myself and others to find out why they were there in the first place; kill an intruder and the intel goes with them. By almost all accounts, Michael Brown was no threat to the officer that shot him. Some, of course, is speculation, but that does not take away the blatant fact this man was shot 9 times, once to the head and 8 to his body.

Why was he shot at all, much less 9 times, then left to bleed out in the middle of the street? I do not blame the people of Ferguson for being outraged, except for a few cases by some miscreants doing some looting the good people of Ferguson are doing what they are doing under Constitutionally protected actions. They are gathering peacefully seeking redress and an explanation of what happened. So why the show of military hardware, to include machine guns atop armored vehicles? Having been in the military for a number of years, I know what they have and am quite knowledgeable in what devastating damage they can do when one is either familiar with said arms, or the very severe damage they can do when one isn’t familiar with what they can do.

Granted, some things have changed since I was in uniform, but the basics remain the same, killing people that cause a threat. Just where is the threat in Ferguson? With the exception of some looters, (whom the police should have been taking into custody), who appear to have gotten away with their illegal activities when those who joined hand in hand, arm in arm to honor Mr. Brown, were being targeted with military grade weapons systems. This is ludicrous at best, criminal at worst. Under what circumstances are military grade munitions “authorized” to be used on an unarmed civilian population?

There are several tragedies involved here, the death and manner of death of Mr. Brown; the looting that went on; the potential use of military grade weapons systems on civilians. The overkill of police in riot gear when they should be reaching out to a grieving community. The officer who shot Mr. Brown must be held accountable, even if there was a threat, why did it take 9 bullets to take him down, one to the head? This officer should be removed from the force and if charges can be brought against him, then let it be so. If there are no charges that can be filed, so be it; but Justice must be served, using the color of authority is not justifiable for what was done. The “blue line” must come down and criminals within any police force must be dealt with severely if found guilty of criminality themselves. There are plenty of good officers out there, a few can change the equation as to where we trust no one with a badge.

I wish the family of  Michael Brown a swift recovery from their loss. I know they will hold him in their fondest memories. I hope the city of Ferguson can get past this without the trauma that often afflicts communities during times such as these. From what I have seen so far, the good people of Ferguson have held their own, doing what is right, demanding justice in the face of adversity, (with a few exceptions who should be ashamed of themselves for using the demise of Mr. Brown for their own selfish gain by looting stores). Let not fear rule your lives, let truth and love be your guiding principles. The truth of what happened to Mr. Brown, and the love you have shown for the community, indeed, the nation’s loss.

August 1, 2014

The Crazy Has Hit New Lows, (Or Highs As Per Your Point Of View)

 

 

The makers and sellers of arms are at it again, just as before 1917 and 1941, manufacturers of weapons are well on their way ensuring people will die through their malfeasance. US based companies sell arms to just about anyone at exorbitant prices, and not one of those corporate officers will have anything to lose in the bargain. Most assuredly, they, their sons and daughters, and those who consider themselves “nobler than thou” will never spill a drop of blood while they enrich themselves at a horrible human cost.

Here’s a simple illustration: We sell arms to Qatar, which in turn gives or sells them to Hamas, same basic thing with the Saudi’s. We sell arms and ammunition to Israel directly, thereby enhancing the threat all the way around, setting the stage for more death and dismemberment, more  non-combatants killed and more orphans are created. This is just a tiny observation of the entire network of arms dealing that brings with it assured death for hundreds of thousands if not millions of human beings now and in the future. This is not a cheap thrill movie out of Hollywood where everybody has a “great time” blowing up the “bad” guys with precision, it is real and incredibly deadly. It is also remarkable for it’s stupidity from all sides.

Hamas tosses essentially a garbage can they call a missile into Israel, Israel tosses several highly accurate missiles, bombs and artillery back to Gaza, where the people have no place to hide, no where to run, the targets are easy for Israel, and the “collateral damage” is considered part of a very odd equation based on retaliation for the “first strike”; has anyone, from either side actually sat down and thought this though?

The only people who are gaining anything are the industrialists, the more war, the better business is, accountants are in their glory while taxpayers and shareholders lose. How does one think the huge “bonuses” officers at companies that supply the machinery of death? That money is directly siphoned off from taxpayers and shareholders in various companies, when that money could easily be used to prevent  war. In our incredible ignorance, we permit the greediest bastards on the earth use us as playthings, mere pawns in their game of death. I find it incredible that few, if any, of us for Peace can be heard above the chanting for war and the din of that war the purveyors so badly need to prevent a bruised ego.

Some may say this is about religion, rest assured, it isn’t. Many times in the past people of different cultures worked side by side to create wondrous accomplishments that were proud reminders of how easy it is to get along when tasks are common and evenly distributed. Often, when a society was threatened, people of very different cultures came together to fend off the threat, today, cultural differences are used as weapons in the battles against morality and justice. When I hear anyone speak of religion I honestly get sickened. Every religion teaches the capacity of love, compassion, empathy and a host of other good things, like forgiveness, justice and helping one’s fellow human beings through tough times. But all I ever see is the dark side, the side that lies and betrays the goodness being taught, demanding the ultimate sacrifice for profit and gain, condemning others for their beliefs and shouting out hate filled diatribes when they should be feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The “moral” justification for organized murder, what we call war, come from heartless minds of those who thrive on hate and controversy; I think it’s about time the whole world stood up and shouted out, “ENOUGH!” 

So here we are in the world of “Whack-a-Mole”, something pops up, just beat it back into the hole with all the force you need. Pretty pathetic way to live life, perpetually scared, standing around waiting for the next mole to pop up so we can whack it with a hammer. Worse still, we “justify” our deeds with our inaction against those who put the cash and power gained as they create more havoc for an already absurdly violent world.

The cycle of death and destruction must be broken and only people can do that by coming together in the common causes of Peace, Justice and Equality. I’ve had it up to my eyes with war mongering psychopaths. I’m done standing in the shit that sociopathic industrialists and money lenders leave behind. We need a social revolution, peaceful and inspired to break the cycle. Not selling arms to anyone would be a start, although that void would be filled by some other nation with a chip on it’s shoulder. We, as a species, need to come together and put an end to all of this. The road is rough, but visionaries of the past have cut the initial route, what we need to do is smooth it out and ensure it’s upkeep. Most assuredly, I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe when we come together we can find most of them. I would be gratified to leave a peaceful world to my son, stepdaughters and grandkids, it’s not impossible but we’re going to have to learn to live together before we extinguish life on the planet.

Peace to all,

Bob

PS: Don’t forget to perform a random act of kindness today!

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 27, 2014

The Only Weapon “They” Have Is Fear

      

 

I put they in quotation marks because we are facing several elements that can bring harm to us and others. “They” consist of oligarchies, pseudo-democracies, fantastically wealthy corporations and banks that rule the financial world without a care while people starve. “They” also consist of arms makers and marketeers that, without any conscience at all toss the articles of death and destruction into the hands of people and groups that use those weapons against innocent people that fall into the category, “they don’t think like we do.”

These acts, which can easily be overcome with some thoughtful planning and a strategy based on how the various groups act, produce fear, which in turn is a weapon used against the rest of the world. Fear is the most potent weapon out there, and while it can’t be “sold”, it can most assuredly be “bought”. Fear has brought us great damage concerning our Bill of Rights, the very basis of our Freedom. Police Departments take “facial recognition” pictures at will, when 99.99% of the people on file would never do any harm to anyone, we have come to accept this as the “norm”. High tech cameras have cropped up all over the country, particularly in urban areas under the notion of  “crime prevention”, what crimes have they prevented? By the time the police show up, if they show up at all, the act has already been committed and the individual(s) have long left the area. After the cameras started going up, we were showered with a whole plethora of acronyms, start with NSA and work your way down, that have little if anything to do with protecting American or other lives and everything to do with creating a state of near constant fear from “enemies” that can do us little, if any harm.

If we are attacked, (except by overt military force), we should approach it as a crime as we did with the first World Trade Center bombing during the Clinton administration and the Oklahoma City  bombing. Good police work and a lot of luck played out it’s hand we dealt with situations in a sane way. Bottom line, if we use resources specifically designed to solve crimes, we actually solve crimes. Invading countries that had nothing to do with horrid acts of terror does nothing but create a situation where the locals dig in their heels and either fight it out or wait it out. We saw this during WWII; the “Blitz” of London created a population that was steeled in their desire to win at all costs. The “Blitz was terrorism, just as was the bombing of Berlin, Tokyo, Dresden and thousands of other targets during of that time. Millions died needlessly, many more were crippled for life both physically and mentally during the raids designed to instill fear in populations, while arms makers made record profits. These profiteers never had to go into battle, never had to be on guard duty during a moonless night trying desperately to remember passwords and responses, while in the freezing forests during 1944. They slept well as the cash built up in their accounts, never having to sacrifice a thing, while young men died, alone in fields far from home.

After WWII, we went through the “McCarthy Era”, where “Communists and Socialists” were behind every tree and rock just waiting to take over the country. McCarthy did his best to instill fear in every American that didn’t realize he was flat out crazy, and there were a lot of people who most assuredly did not comprehend either Communism or Socialism, in fact, most people don’t comprehend Capitalism, which is extremely damaging to workers but great for the ultra-wealthy. It was all about fear, holding up blank papers declaring, “I have here a list of known Communists,” (the # always changed), and the fear would be reignited. Innocent people became targets of FBI investigations because of nothing more than McCarthy’s tactics of instilling fear into the population. McCarthy was delusional, perhaps because of the amount of alcohol he consumed, (quite a bit by all accounts), or the psychological profile of a man about to lose his seat in the Senate drove him to drastic measures ruining thousands of lives. Then came the dramatic climax to McCarthy by a man small in stature but cast a huge shadow. McCarthy was attacking a lawyer named Fisher who had been in the National Lawyers Guild, when Joseph Welch made the following statement in the heat of the moment, ““Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyer’s Guild… Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Across the nation Welch became a hero, and fear lost it’s stranglehold across the nation.

Reagan and Little Boots bush put the pallor of fear once again across the nation. It is unfounded, Reagan ran out on Beirut after the bombing of the Marine Barracks, Little Boots began two incredibly stupid wars against people who had done nothing against us. Iraqi’s and Afghans had nothing to do with 9-11; there were no WMD’s, bin-Laden was forgotten about until Obama ordered him to be taken down. We just bagged, and are bringing to the US for trial a high ranking “terrorist”; the courts will decide his fate.

We have instilled fear upon the nations of the Middle East, it is quite simply time to set up the logistics to extricate ourselves, leaving nothing behind that can be used by hostiles, (many of which we created). Let us remove the fear we have placed not only upon ourselves, but others as well. We can start by helping these and other nations build desalinization plants and offer them grain to grow crops to feed their people through irrigation from the desalinization plants. It’s easy and cheap, and with a little luck and some serious diplomacy, perhaps we can learn to get  along without the killing and maiming, the dehumanization of war.

I wish you all healthy and prosperous fear free lives.

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

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