In 1954, the US Congress renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The stated reason was to remember all generations of US veterans, not just veterans from the First World War. Congress advanced this rationale on the disingenuous notion that Armistice Day’s purpose was a celebration of veterans. It was not. Armistice Day’s purpose was to serve as a reminder of the horrors of the First World War and carry forward the declaration of those veterans of Never Again. For a US government implementing a militarized Cold War foreign policy in 1954, a reconciliation-based holiday was inconvenient and problematic.
I don’t have any personal war stories to tell. In my twenty years in the U.S. Air Force, I never saw combat. I started as a developmental engineer, working mainly on computer software, and morphed into a historian of science and technology who taught for six years at the USAF Academy. I worked on software projects that helped pilots plan their missions and helped the world to keep track of objects in Earth orbit. I taught military cadets who did see combat and served as the dean of students at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, where I saw plenty of young troops cross the graduation stage with language skills in Arabic and Pashto and other languages as they prepared to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
The much-anticipated report on potential war crimes by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan has been released, recommending 19 current or former soldiers be investigated for up to 39 murders. Not combat kills. Not accidental kills. Not non-combatants killed by disputable decisions made in the heat of battle. Not civilians killed due to recklessness or carelessness on the part of Australian forces. Murders. Of non-combatants who died for no other reason than happening to live in a region the US power alliance has seen geostrategic value in keeping militarily occupied for 19 years.
As the U.S. now approaches the third month since protests erupted following the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless Black Americans calls to defund and abolish the police are resonating throughout public consciousness. While the Black Lives Matter movement rightfully pushes for the defunding and abolition of a white supremacist institution, it must be recognized that another institution — U.S. militarism — is also an overfunded structure responsible for violence, oppression, and white supremacy.
Just as previous wars on poverty, drugs & terrorism, a new ‘war on COVID-19’ is doomed to failure if a similar militaristic approach is used. We can only win if we restore the common good ruined by decades of neoliberal policies. When speaking about the current coronavirus pandemic and a concerted response to it, we should say unequivocally: “This is not a war.” It’s true that this will directly contradict the stance of many world leaders, who have declared a war on the virus. But by denying the necessity of a militaristic framing, we don’t turn a blind eye to how critical the situation is. On the contrary, this will help to search for an alternative way of grappling with the coronavirus crisis, of inspiring people for collective and individual action, and – ultimately – of bringing about a better world after the current pandemic winds down.
As a veteran who is also an antiwar activist, I find Veterans Day to be a toxic holiday. On Veterans Day, we are asked to ignore all the horrors of U.S. militarism for the “sake” of the veteran — all this despite the fact that trillions of dollars have been diverted from education, health care, infrastructure and even veteran support in order to pay for the U.S. military. That military overthrows governments, surveils the planet, covers up sexual assault, slaughters millions, and pollutes more than any other organization. Veterans Day is a not-so-subtle attempt to justify the mission of the U.S. empire by setting aside a day that demands a certain degree of reverence for those who have carried out that mission. Veterans Day is also a tool to recruit more soldiers.
“Putin’s America,” tweeted Anand Giridharadas, a pundit who was genetically engineered in a Monsanto laboratory to appeal to NPR listeners on every possible level. Giridharadas used these words yesterday to caption a short video clip of two tanks being carted through the streets of DC in preparation for their appearance in a parade for Independence Day, a holiday in which Americans gather to eat hot dogs and drink Mountain Dew in celebration of the anniversary of their lateral transfer from monarchy to corporatist oligarchy. The military hardware parade is taking place at the behest of President Bolton’s social media assistant Donald Trump, and critics have been vocally decrying it as alien and un-American. Pundits like Giridharadas and Steve Silberman have been saying it’s something Russia would do.
By S. Brian Willson for Counter Punch. Celebration of Memorial Day in the US, originally Decoration Day, commenced shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War. This is a national holiday to remember the people who died while serving in the armed forces. The day traditionally includes decorating graves of the fallen with flowers. As a Viet Nam veteran, I know the kinds of pain and suffering incurred by over three million US soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen, 58,313 of whom paid the ultimate price whose names are on The Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC. The Oregon Vietnam Memorial Wall alone, located here in Portland, contains 803 names on its walls. The function of a memorial is to preserve memory. On this US Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, I want to preserve the memory of all aspects of the US war waged against the Southeast Asian people in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia – what we call the Viet Nam War – as well as the tragic impacts it had on our own people and culture.
By Glen Milner of Global Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Seattle, WA - Local activists will stage a water-based nonviolent protest against the glorification of weapons of war at the Seattle Seafair festival. Peace activists will meet the U.S. Navy fleet in Elliott Bay. Other peace activists will meet on land on Pier 62/63 on the Seattle waterfront at the same time for a nonviolent demonstration against weapons of war. For the fourteenth year, peace activists will address the public display of warships and warplanes in our community. Why would we demonstrate for peace at a Seattle maritime festival? Because the celebration of warships in our harbor helps bring about the normalcy of modern war.
I had just seen the film American Sniper, the revisionist history popcorn propaganda piece of myth making and nationalistic war porn being sold to us by Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, and screenwriter Jason Hall an apolitical character study. I wanted to talk with an actual American Sniper, and Garett was generous enough to pick up the phone. Garett has a lot in common with Chris Kyle. Both entered the military at a older age, both spent endless hours on rooftops, in windows or trash piles in Iraq “doing their job”, both were in Iraq in 2004 hunting al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and both spent their time after active duty trying to help veterans. The similarities end there.
Making a movie about the Iraq War, even as a backdrop to a character study, in which America is depicted as the complete moral savior and the Iraqis are depicted as despicably evil savages is unforgivably disrespectful to all of OUR Soldiers and Veterans. Because it codifies an unjust war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands, while at the same time manipulating our next generation of Warriors to want to go fight and die to further enrich the Masters of War under the guise of serving Country and safeguarding Liberty and Freedom.
The national call introduction states: Over the last several decades, the Pentagon, conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations, and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education. It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals. The National Call suggests actions for foundations, organizations and individuals to take to implement the call.
Perhaps this is the President’s desired purpose. The goal of having US military bases in Iraq to control the region, which is the center of the Middle East at a time when oil is desperately needed, has not been achieved. A justification for intervention would provide an excuse to re-occupy those bases. If we re-occupy Iraq, we can expect a long-term presence. The (currently) most likely next president, Hillary Clinton, has a track record as a hawk. She has already signaled to the military-industrial complex that she is open to more war. Clinton recently said she was even open to staying in Afghanistan beyond President Obama’s already-too-slow exit from that country. Opponents of war organized opposition quickly.