Miracle of Peace

LAMENTATIONS

NOT WORTH MY SON'S SACRIFICE
by Cindy Sheehan -
www.lewrockwell.com - February 7, 2005

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, 04/04/04. She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live show last week. I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son was killed in the war prior to the elections. One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son's sacrifice was "worth it?" Well, I didn't get a chance to be on the show, because I was bumped for something that is really important: The Michael Jackson Trial.

If I had been allowed to go on Larry King Live last night and give my opinion about the elections and about my son's sacrifice, this is what I would have told Mr. King and his viewers:

My son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan (KIA, Sadr City, 04/04/04) enlisted in the Army to protect America and give something back to our country. He didn't enlist to be used and misused by a reckless Commander-in-Chief who sent his troops to preemptively attack and occupy a country that was no imminent threat (or any threat) to our country. Casey was sent to die in a war that was based on the imagination of some Neo-Cons who love to fill our lives with fear.

Casey didn't agree with the "Mission" but being the courageous and honorable man that he was he knew he had to go to this mistake of a war to support his buddies. Casey also wondered aloud many times why precious troops and resources were being diverted from the real war on terror.

Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored Humvee. He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shi'ite rebel "welcome wagon" welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and RPG's, which took his young and beautiful life. I think my son's helmet and Viet Nam era flak jacket would have protected him better from the chocolates and flower petals.

Casey was killed after George Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003 - after Saddam was captured in December of that same year before the transfer of power in June of 2004 and before elections. Four Marines were tragically killed after the election. By my count, about five-dozen Iraqis and coalition troops were killed on Election Day - is that the definition of "Catastrophic Success?" But is that a good day in Iraq? Hundreds of our young people and thousands of Iraqis have been needlessly and senselessly murdered since George Bush triumphantly announced an end to "major combat" almost 2 years ago now. All of the above events have been heralded by this administration as "turning points" in the "war on terror" - or as wonderful events in the "march of democracy." Really? I don't think, judging by very recent history, that the elections will stop the bloodshed and destruction.

I would have asked Mr. King if he would want to sacrifice one of his children for sham elections in Iraq. Would he or George Bush send their children to be killed, or maimed for life, for a series of lies, mistakes and miscalculations? Now that every lie has been exposed to the light the invasion and occupation of Iraq - why are our sons and daughters still there? NOT ONE MORE DROP OF BLOOD SHOULD BE SPILLED FOR THIS PACK OF LIES.

This war was sold to the American people by a slimy leadership with a maniacal zeal and phony sincerity that would have impressed snake oil salesmen a century ago. The average American needs to hear from people who have been devastated by the arrogance and ignorance of an administration that doesn't even have the decency or compassion to sign our "death" letters.

In the interest of being "fair and balanced" (oops, wrong network), I would have been pitted against a parent who still agrees with the "Mission" and the President. Although I grieve for that parent's loss and I respect that parent's opinion, I would have defied Mr. King, or that parent to explain the "Mission" to me. I don't think anyone can do it with a straight face. The President has also stated that we need to keep our troops in Iraq to honor our sacrifices by completing this elusive and ever changing "Mission." My response to him is "Just because it is too late for Casey and the Sheehan family, why would we want another innocent life taken, in the name of this chameleon of a 'Mission'?

Well, I was bumped from the show anyway. Now that Scott Peterson has been convicted and sentenced for his crimes and Laci and Connor's families have the justice they deserve, we have the new "trial of the century" to keep our minds off of the nasty and annoying fact that we are waging an immoral war in Iraq. We can fill our TV screens and homes with the glorified images of the Michael Jackson molestation trial. We can fill our lives with outrage over MJ's victims and hope they get justice; not even questioning the fact that George Bush, his dishonest cabinet, and their misguided policies aren't even brought to the court of public opinion. We won't have to confront ourselves with the fact that the leaders of our country and their lies are responsible for the deaths of 1438 brave Americans - tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis - and the loss of our Nation's credibility throughout the world. That might mean we would have to turn off our television sets and do something about it.

Oh yeah. In answer to the original question, Larry: No, it wasn't worth it!!

~~~~

EMPTY BOOTS
by Cindy Sheehan -
www.lewrockwell.com - March 4, 2005

"I'm so glad George Bush is a uniter and not a divider," I sarcastically thought to myself as the retired Marine Vietnam vet was screaming at me and the other volunteers at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit (presented by the American Friend's Service Committee - AFSC) in Dallas today.

The man was beside himself with fury. He accused me and the AFSC of being shameful and that the AFSC wanted to see all of our soldiers in Iraq "tried for war crimes." I just sat at the hospitality table trying to let the veteran blow off some steam - I couldn't answer his concerns at that point anyway - I felt his accusations were for the representatives of the AFSC.

The very, very angry man finally screamed one thing that I couldn't ignore. He was practically frothing at the mouth when he roared: "You people are all cowards. You wouldn't die for anything."

That's when I had had just about enough of Mr. Marine. I stood up to him and I said: "You are wrong about that, sir. I would have gladly gone to Iraq instead of my son. I would have died in his place without question."

This simple but true statement, which any parent would make, took the wind out of Mr. Marine's sails. He got tears in his eyes and he said: "I'm so sorry for your loss, ma'am. I would have taken your son's place, too." Then we hugged each other and both of us cried...me for my devastating loss...and I'm not sure what the Veteran gentleman was crying for. My loss...or the losses he experienced as a soldier in Vietnam? Maybe a little of both.

At that miraculous and rare point in time, a Blue State, peace activist mom and a Red state, Bush/War supporting veteran, found common ground. It was a very unusual and sacred moment. We were able to open up an honest dialogue, which is so rare in this country these days.

There were about 50 today at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit. They were there because they were under the mistaken impression that the AFSC wants all soldiers serving in Iraq prosecuted for war crimes. That would make me mad, also, if it were true. Most of our children in harm's way are just trying to save their lives and the lives of their buddies. But this notion about the AFSC is totally absurd and false. How did these otherwise, seemingly intelligent protestors get such a whacky idea?? Well, the protesters were told that this was true by a hate-mongering radio talk show host named Darell Ankarlo. He told his listeners: "Eyes Wide Open is in actuality anti-war, anti-American, anti-troops display, suggesting that our military 'be brought to justice' for crimes against humanity." Ankarlo also told his listeners that this statement was on the AFSC website.

Of course, this is not on the AFSC website. But don't take my word for it. Do something that Ankarlo's listeners did not: check it out yourself. It's amazing to me that the protesters would come out and waste hours of their time on a beautiful Dallas morning to protest something that they didn't even verify.

Like I said in my speech at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit today: "Whether one thinks this war is moral or immoral, we all agree that the 1496 young people represented in their empty boots behind me, are brave and honorable people who deserve the highest of honors and our highest respect."

I have been all over the country protesting this war and trying to expose the reasons for going to Iraq and staying in Iraq for what they were and still are: lies. My experience in Dallas has convinced me of a certain fact: standing across from our philosophical opponents and screaming slogans at each other is not very productive. Having knee-jerk reactions to hate mongering talk show hosts is also very counter-productive. I think we as Americans have more in common with each other than not and we need to find that common ground quickly. We need to join together to stop the next war before it even begins this time.

Exhibits like AFSC's Eyes Wide Open is a wonderful way to honor our children's sacrifices and to bring an awareness of the true human cost of war to our nation. **Click on the link to the AFSC website and you can view a short movie on the exhibit, see the list of scheduled upcoming cities where Eyes Wide Open will be, and sign a petition for peace.

(Repeated calls and e-mails to Darrell Ankarlo's station [KLIF AM] in Dallas from members of Gold Star Families for Peace [GSFP] have not been returned. We are demanding that Ankarlo apologize to the AFSC and to GSFP for lying to his listeners.)

~~~~

OUR FUTURE? by Murray Polner - www.lewrockwell.com
 - September 4, 2004

Murray Polner is author of NO VICTORY PARADES: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran, BRANCH RICKEY: A BIOGRAPHY and with Jim O'Grady, DISARMED AND DANGEROUS

Flipping the pages of a newspaper I ran across an AP dispatch buried in the back pages. In it, a grief-stricken father in Florida just informed that his 20-year-old marine son had been killed in Iraq, angrily tried to ignite the van carrying the Marines sent to tell him the news, and in the process burning him severely. "My husband did not take the news well," his wife said. And a few days later another story about a mother in New York state mourning the death of her soldier son and filled with anger. "I don't think it's fair that so many mothers and fathers, siblings have to go through what I'm going through. Is it about oil? I don't know what this war is for. We don't want anyone else to die in this useless, stupid war."

It's too much to bear.

I used to commute to work by rail with a neighbor who lived down the road. He had been an Air Force Captain during the Vietnam War and one of his jobs was to visit families and tell them a family member had died in the war. Tell me more, I pleaded. I'm sorry I told you that, he said apologetically. It was hard. He did tell me that he'd never allow his sons to join the military.

Some memories: My boyhood pal Porky never returned from the Korean War. The laconic and pleasant Trinchintella boy, who helped around his father's neighborhood gas station and was trained for Vietnam as a helicopter gunner, was grievously wounded and died in a military hospital in Japan, his parents at his side. My former student Ronald Boston, shy, unathletic, African American, a kid who tried so hard to get good grades. His mother tended my mother in a nursing home and told me one day she had a dream in which Ronald was killed in Vietnam. Poor Mrs. Boston. Poor Ronald. He never did make it home except in a casket. In an earlier "good war," Irving Starr, whose family owned the Deli next door, was killed during a raid over Ploesti oil fields. His body was never found. Phil Drazin ... used to play ball with us younger kids. When his father learned the news, he raced out of his store and ran screaming into Strauss Street. I wish I remembered the name of an 18-year-old who lived in an adjoining apartment. 0ne summer afternoon his father walked from work toward the bench outside the building in which he lived and began sobbing. My mother, who was very good about such things, embraced him as he cried for his only son.

I have never forgotten any of them. I visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington and New York City. I devour books by Paul Fussell, Samuel Hynes, W.Y. Boyd, E.B. Sledge, all of whom lived as soldiers or marines through the carnage of war and memorized Donald Hall's poem "1943" ("They toughened us for war...Dom died in the third wave at Tarawa..."). During the Vietnam War, I interviewed several hundred combat veterans for a book I wrote about three hawkish soldiers who believed they were fighting for freedom, four doves that spoke of atrocities and smashed ideals, and three I thought of as "haunted," perhaps forever. I wrote, "Never before in American history have as many loyal and brave young men been as shabbily treated by the government that sent them to war."

These days I scan the lists of killed GIs in the New York Times, many of whom, now nearing a thousand, are rarely mentioned in conservative or liberal mass media. Perhaps they really don't care enough to even print their names.

But mainly I think of them, because the same people who sent them to war in Iraq ... are now subtly promoting yet another war, this time against Iran. "Forget an 0ctober Surprise, a much worse one could come in September," wrote the experienced foreign correspondent Martin Sieff in the Washington Times. "Full-scale war between the U.S. and Iran may be far closer than the [distracted] American public might imagine. Iranian defense Minister Ali Shamkhani's recent bombshell threatened to retaliate should the U.S. or its Israeli partner target nuclear facilities. "Believe him," said Sieff, ominously.

... Here's a nightmarish scenario: U.S. and Israelis bomb Iran, its nuclear facilities and even more (or vice versa) and Iran counterattacks against Israel's Dimona nuclear facilities and maybe Israel proper. A draft is reinstated to provide hundreds of thousands of additional cannon fodder to fight 70 million non-Arab Iranians who in the 1980s absorbed 500,000 deaths in a savage war against Saddam's Iraq. More Middle Eastern terrorists are created and American college campuses erupt in fury. Sixties redux, only worse.

... Prowar imperialists such as Theodore Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling changed their tunes once their sons died in World War I. Kipling could only assuage his grief and guilt in his shattering couplet:

If any question why we died - Tell them, because our fathers lied.

~~~~

A BREEDING GROUND FOR TYRANTS, by Michael Gaddy - www.lewrockwell.com - March 10, 2005

Michael Gaddy is an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut.

The irritating sound of a ringing phone brought me roughly back to reality. I had been lost in the serenity of the snow-covered peaks of the La Plata and San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado. At first, there was no immediate response to my hello. I thought it a call from a telemarketer, but after the pause, was delighted to hear the voice of a damn good soldier I have known for over two decades, who is on his second tour in Iraq. His response to my question of what was going on over there now, still assaults my conscience: "Well, this morning our unit went out and shot up a bunch of civilians and our commander is writing it up as a great military victory."

This is not the first report of unacceptable military and civilian leadership as it pertains to the war in Iraq I have received from this soldier. He continued telling me of the insane actions of his commander: "He has a whole new definition of 'recon-by-fire;' he picks out a building in our area of operations, then tells his soldiers to 'fire it up.' It makes no difference [that] we have no Intel of enemy activity, nor have we received any enemy fire from that building. His purpose is to continue to shoot into buildings until someone shoots back."

When asked what was the reaction by most of the soldiers in this unit to such actions by their commander, I was told there are basically two types of soldiers in most units. There are the career guys who have more than a decade invested and have seen so many commanders like this they believe them to be the norm rather than the exception. Then, there are the young soldiers who have fallen for the line about killing as many of these "rag heads" as possible because of 9/11 and protecting "the folks back home." Soldiers, who see this war for what it is and voice those thoughts, are reported up the line as malcontents and enemy sympathizers. The vast majority of soldiers would rather live through the lies and atrocities than be labeled a traitor and the ramifications of that label once they return home. So, many just hope to survive and get the hell out of the military and away from the madmen who lead them.

This nation, its political leadership and the vast majority of its religious leaders, have thrown away their moral compass and replaced it with a rabid nationalism unseen on the world stage since Germany in the 1930s. Torture and murder of hundreds of thousands are readily accepted, as long as it is done for the graven image called the State. Eventually, unless we take a different path, the number of those tortured and murdered will include those in this country who refuse to submit to the State as it pursues its "mission from God." The venom readily spews forth from the shills for the State now, building a hate and resentment in the masses for any who would challenge the official position of perpetual war for peace.

Since our nation and its civilian leaders have lost their ability to judge right from wrong, why should we expect anything different from our military?

Many military officers see this war as the open door of opportunity to the stars of a general and all the attendant trappings: power, money and prestige. Like the perfumed princes of the Vietnam War, they believe, "it may not be a good war, but it is the only war we have." Success in war is a simple equation: how many people can you put in a body bag? An immoral leadership cares little if they are combatants or civilians. Military leadership follows the lead of its civilian leadership: if they lie, it is an acceptable practice; if they condone illegal war, they do the same; if killing and torturing innocents is ordered and then covered-up, then it must be OK. Why should we even question this or this when it comes to our military leaders seeking to move up the career ladder?

Those in the military see two separate but distinct choices: embrace illegal war and the actions necessary to "succeed," or do what is right and suffer the ridicule, humiliation, and possible imprisonment of others who chose that path.

... Most of the military officers, who excel at unconstitutional, aggressive war, will move into positions of higher authority, once this war is over, and will dictate military policy in the future. They will remember the path they took to attain the lofty status of general, and so will those who are younger seek to emulate them. They will have learned that to follow the lies of unprincipled civilian leadership is indispensable to success, and conscience and morals will never take you past colonel, if that far.

None of these officers will consider their oath of enlistment and its mandate of obeying the Constitution over unconstitutional, illegal orders. After all, following the Constitution is not a step on the career path to the inner ring at the Pentagon. They will never allow the thought to enter their minds that anyone issuing an unconstitutional order, military or civilian, is, in fact, the domestic enemy referred to in the enlistment oath.

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A WAR AGAINST CIVILIANS?
by Mark Weisbrot -
www.lewrockwell.com - November 2, 2001

... Most Americans would like to see Osama Bin Laden, and anyone else that was responsible for the atrocity of September 11, brought to justice. But they would certainly be ashamed, if they knew that their government was pursuing a strategy that involved starving hundreds of thousands, and possibly even millions, of innocent people.

Of course this is not the first time that our government has used collective punishment, or terrorism, in order to achieve its political goals: there was Nicaragua in the 1980s, Vietnam prior to that, and many other examples. In fact, by any objective definition of terrorism - one that includes the terrorism of states as well as individuals - the United States has been its largest single sponsor over the last half-century.

This war is different in that it originated with a horrific terrorist attack on Americans. But the collective punishment of the people of Afghanistan is no more excusable than the crimes of September 11. As such, it will only inspire more hatred and terrorism against us.

There is no military solution to the problem of terrorism within our borders. We will have to change our foreign policy, so that our government does not make so many enemies throughout the world. Those who collaborated in the crimes of September 11 will have to be pursued through legal and political channels, including the United Nations.

A good start would be to cut off the major source of Bin Laden's funding and support, which is not in Afghanistan but in Saudi Arabia. The Bush Administration has done very little on this front, due to a combination of big oil and other "geopolitical" interests. Our government is willing to risk American lives, at home and abroad, and kill any number of innocent Afghanis, but it is apparently not willing to risk disturbing its relations with the Saudi royal family.
Going the legal route won't boost the President's approval ratings the way a war does, nor will it make the world fear our military power. But at least we won't be fighting terrorism with more terrorism, and fueling an escalating cycle of violence.

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WAR, THE GOD THAT FAILED
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. -
www.lewrockwell.com -
May 15, 2004

Lew Rockwell is editor of LewRockwell.com.

... We are right to wince and then condemn pictures of naked prisoners in dog collars; not even Paul Wolfowitz was willing to defend such practices in testimony. And yet those private groups that bother to count civilian dead point to figures that exceed 10,000 in this war alone. These figures rise by 5, 10, 20, and more per day.

These aren't deaths by injection but by machinegun bullets shot, and smart bombs dropped, by U.S. soldiers and paid for by U.S. taxpayers, and the U.S. doesn't even bother to mention them, much less count them. Torture is awful, but should it really be necessary to point out, that the mass death of innocents is worse?

Why do the former strike our moral conscience, while the latter seems like a bloodless number, that could rise or fall a hundred or a thousand without consequence? Perhaps because these mass deaths have produced no lasting images, that compare to those from Abu Ghraib.

Or maybe it is what Hollywood directors have always known. Audiences are shaken less by the image of a city being blown up, than by a dinner fork slowly penetrating the cheek of a single individual. Our subjective reactions do not, however, change the objective reality.

Who are these people being imprisoned and killed? The Red Cross estimated that 9 out of 10 people being held at the prison were guilty of nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time - driving while Iraqi. But just as striking is the supposed charge against that 10th person, imprisoned for resisting an invading foreign regime that has imposed brutal martial-law for longer than a year. This same regime had been the reason for crippling trade sanctions in the previous 10 years that the UN and other organizations say account for more than a million deaths.

... But average Iraqis have many other images hitting them on a daily basis. In Karbala, just yesterday, for example, U.S. tanks rolled around one of Islam's holiest cemeteries in one of Islam's holiest cities, firing at anything that moved. Here is a place that is home to the shrine to Mohammed's cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib, and Shiite teaching is that people buried here immediately enter paradise.

Anyone who believes that such activities constitute "anti-terrorist" measures is a blooming idiot. In fact, such activities, and this war in general, could not have been better designed to create and inspire global terrorism. If the U.S. government needed an enemy to replace and outdistance Communism, it is certainly doing its best to create one.

... The supporters of the Iraq War were no less fanatical than the Bolsheviks in their conviction that power could accomplish miracles at the push of a button. People like David Brooks are now saying that the embrace of power was a mistake. "We were blinded by idealism," he explains in a manner reminiscent of every apologist for a fanatical despot in the history of the world. Idealism! When your "idealism" results in military dictatorship, mass jailings and killings, rivers of blood, and the seething anger of half the world, you need to do more than confess that you might have underestimated the "response our power would have on the people we sought to liberate."

... The core problem in Iraq right now is not some rogue corporals engaged in sadomasochistic torture; the problem is the "idealists" who think nothing of attempting to reconstruct an entire region of the world using bombs and bloodshed.

War is idealism in the same way that Communism and Nazism were idealism: the fanatical dream of people who insisted that the world conform to their vicious imaginings, and just so happened to get hold of the power of the state and used it to make their "ideals" happen. They are the people who give us killing fields. War too is a god that has failed.

People say that the problem is too complicated, that the mess is too extensive to be repaired. That's not true. The U.S. could pull out today. It could stop its imperial policies. It could end the insane levels of military spending. It could seek peace with the world. The Bush administration still has time to apologize to the world. The U.S. could seek friendship and reconciliation and trade, and genuinely mean it and stick to it. We could become again the country that the founders wanted us to be. Now that's an ideal.

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THE GLORY OF WAR
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. -
www.lewrockwell.com - May 6, 2005

The bloom on the rose of war eventually fades, leaving only the thorns. By the time this takes place, most everyone has already begun the national task of averting the eyes from the thorns, meaning the awful reality, the dashed hopes, the expense, the lame, the limbless, the widows, the orphans, the death on all sides, and the resulting instability. The people who still take an interest are those who first took an interest in war: the power elite, who began the war for purposes very different from that which they sold to the public at the outset.

Thus does the American public not care much about Iraq. It is not quite as invisible as other nations that were the subject of national obsessions in the recent past. Hardly anyone knows who or what is running El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Libya, Serbia, or Somalia, or any of the other formerly strategic countries that once engaged national attention.

... Why the bourgeoisie back war is another matter. It is self-evidently not in their interest. The government gains power at their expense. It spends their money and runs up debt that is paid out of taxes and inflation. It fosters the creation of permanent enemies abroad who then work to diminish our security at home. It leads to the violation of privacy and civil liberty. War is incompatible with a government that leaves people alone to develop their lives in an atmosphere of freedom.

Nonetheless, war with moral themes - we are the good guys working for God and they are the bad guys doing the devil's work - tends to attract a massive amount of middle class support. People believe the lies, and, once exposed, they defend the right of the state to lie. People who are otherwise outraged by murder find themselves celebrating the same on a mass industrial scale. People who harbor no hatred toward foreigners find themselves attaching ghastly monikers to whole classes of foreign peoples. Regular middle class people, who otherwise struggle to eke out a flourishing life in this vale of tears, feel hatred well up within them and confuse it for honor, bravery, courage, and valor.

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