What We Can Learn From War Memorials

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By Kevin Basl for Other Words – Americans repay our veterans poorly if we don’t use our freedoms to question our wars. In Dryden, New York, a proposed solar farm recently caused a stir. Thousands of solar panels — enough to power 7,500 homes — are scheduled to be installed near a rural cemetery in the town. Some opponents complain that it’s disrespectful to the veterans buried there. Energy and environmental considerations aside, what does it mean to respect our deceased service members and veterans? We visit their graves, to ensure their small flags stand upright. We grieve during “Taps.” These activities are healthy. But true respect — the kind someone who gave their life in service deserves — begins with learning from our country’s mistakes, not ensuring a scenic resting place. It’s easy to forget that memorials — gravestones, ceremonies, monuments — aren’t deceased persons themselves. Rather, they’re sacred markers for the living. They provide a space for public mourning, and they teach history. Memorials can be spontaneous and unique, or they can become so commonplace that we no longer experience them meaningfully.

The Losing Warfare State

Tough not to call it a war crime when the U.S. dropped more bombs during the Vietnam War than it had on Germany during World War II. (Photo: Public Domain)

By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – The USA is still bogged down in Afghanistan (the 16 year-old occupation is the longest in American history) and in Iraq (since the unconstitutional, illegal invasion of the country 14 years ago). With about 30,000 poorly equipped fighters, the Taliban has held down a US equipped and trained Afghan army eight times larger in soldiers, plus the US forces – fluctuating from 100,000 at its peak to 8,500 now, plus contractors – with advanced air, sea and land weaponry that is second to none. Moreover, the Taliban has been advancing, controlling 30 to 40 percent of the country and a third of the population, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Iraq, the US had hundreds of thousands of soldiers and contractors during the Bush years. Yet today the country is still in the throes of a civil war, where a previously nonexistent threat – ISIS – with less than 15,000 fighters, has been successfully resisting a huge Iraqi army backed by US trainers and air force. How can this be? “We are vulnerable,” writes military author William Greider, “because our presumption of unconquerable superiority leads us deeper and deeper into unwinnable military conflicts.”

How Americans Remember (And Forget) Their Wars

Christopher Glenn and Kevin Zeese holding No War banner at White House and Eisenhower Executive Office Building April 27,  2017. Photo by Anne Meador, DC Media Group.

By John Dower for Tom Dispatch – Some years ago, a newspaper article credited a European visitor with the wry observation that Americans are charming because they have such short memories. When it comes to the nation’s wars, however, he was not entirely on target. Americans embrace military histories of the heroic “band of [American] brothers” sort, especially involving World War II. They possess a seemingly boundless appetite for retellings of the Civil War, far and away the country’s most devastating conflict where American war deaths are concerned. Certain traumatic historical moments such as “the Alamo” and “Pearl Harbor” have become code words — almost mnemonic devices — for reinforcing the remembrance of American victimization at the hands of nefarious antagonists. Thomas Jefferson and his peers actually established the baseline for this in the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which enshrines recollection of “the merciless Indian Savages” — a self-righteous demonization that turned out to be boilerplate for a succession of later perceived enemies. “September 11th” has taken its place in this deep-seated invocation of violated innocence, with an intensity bordering on hysteria.

Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About The ‘Ecology Of War’

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By Andre Vltchek for Counter Currents – Dr. Gus Abu-Sitta is the head of the Plastic Surgery Department at the AUB Medical Center in Lebanon. He specializes in: reconstructive surgery. What it means in this part of the world is clear: they bring you people from the war zones, torn to pieces, missing faces, burned beyond recognition, and you have to try to give them their life back. Dr. Abu-Sitta is also a thinker. A Palestinian born in Kuwait, he studied and lived in the UK, and worked in various war zones of the Middle East, as well as in Asia, before accepting his present position at the AUB Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon. We were brought together by peculiar circumstances. Several months ago I burned my foot on red-hot sand, in Southeast Asia. It was healing slowly, but it was healing. Until I went to Afghanistan where at one of the checkpoints in Herat I had to take my shoes off, and the wound got badly infected. Passing through London, I visited a hospital there, and was treated by one of Abu-Sitta’sformer professors. When I said that among other places I work in Lebanon,he recommended that I visit one of his “best students who now works in Beirut”.

Dear President Trump: We Urge You To Do The Following To Avert War In Korea

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By Staff of Women Cross DMZ – We are women leaders from 40 countries, including the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and many from nations that fought in the Korean War. We are from academia, business, civil society and the military, and represent a diversity of ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and political views. We are united by our belief that diplomacy is the only way to resolve the nuclear crisis and threat of war now facing the Korean peninsula. On July 27, 1953, leaders from the United States, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and China signed the Armistice Agreement to halt the Korean War. They promised to re-convene within three months to replace the ceasefire with a binding peace agreement. This never occurred and an entrenched state of war has ever since defined inter-Korean and U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations. This war must end. Korea is the only nation to remain divided as a result of WWII. For three generations, millions of families have been separated by the world’s most militarized border. We urge you to do the following to avert war in Korea and bring about a long-desired peace on the peninsula…

The Silence Of The Pseudo-Left On The Danger Of War

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By Eric London for WSWS – A wide range of nominally left-wing political groups and publications have acquiesced to a series of dangerous military actions by the Trump administration that have brought the world to the brink of war. On April 13, the US dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in history in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb weighs over 10 tons and is so destructive it reportedly obliterated the homes of peasants living several miles from the drop zone. Four days later, Vice President Michael Pence traveled to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula, where the US has threatened to use preemptive military force against the nuclear-armed North. Pence acknowledged that the MOAB bombing was aimed at proving that the US was prepared to go to war. “Just in the past two weeks,” he declared, “the world witnessed the strength of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.” The growing danger of a nuclear conflagration is widely felt.

China Urges Both North Korea And The United States To Avoid War

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By Liu Xin for Global Times – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday discussed bilateral ties and the situation on the Korean Peninsula over the phone, promising close contact to allow for the prompt exchange of views on major issues of mutual concern. China strongly opposes actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Xi said, adding that China hopes the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid actions that aggravate tensions on the peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported. It was the second phone conversation between the presidents since Xi visited Trump in Florida on April 6. Xi noted that if the parties shoulder their responsibilities and meet each other halfway, they can solve North Korea’s nuclear issue and achieve denuclearization, according to Xinhua. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are mounting, with South Korean and US media reporting that North Korea is preparing its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military. North Korea has reportedly evacuated citizens living near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where it conducted the fifth nuclear test in September 2016.

War Is Not An Option For Korea

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By Christine Ahn for Foreign Policy in Focus – “Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. “All options are on the table,” Tillerson continued, including “an appropriate response” to any North Korean threat. The United States and North Korea are like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned last week. North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles off the coast of Japan as thousands of South Korean, Japanese, and U.S. troops, backed by warships and warplanes, are currently engaging in massive military exercises, including the deployment of the Navy SEALS that killed Osama Bin Laden. With no communication other than military posturing, Pyongyang is left to interpret Washington’s maneuvers as preparation for a pre-emptive strike. Given the political vacuum in South Korea following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, all tracks are heading towards one destination: war. At a Council of Foreign Relations discussion on March 13, Mary Beth Long, a former assistant secretary of defense, advocated for “aggressive movement”

‘On Contact With Chris Hedges’: Putting The War In Syria In Full Context

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By Kasia Anderson for Truth Dig – It’s been more than a week since the Trump administration abruptly switched out of “America first” mode and into intervention mode by dropping 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airfield. As Chris Hedges and Alternet journalists Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton argue in this episode of “On Contact With Chris Hedges,” the American public has been lacking something very important before—and after—that strike. Simply put, that would be context. More specifically, it comes down to crucial questions that are not being addressed publicly by members of the U.S. government or the mainstream media. Take these questions, for example: What’s the relationship between the regime change in Libya, encouraged and enabled by the Obama administration in 2011, and the ongoing refugee crisis? Or between that crisis and Brexit? Who are the White Helmets? How are all these questions related to the current conflict in Syria, and the role of the U.S. in that conflict? What role do Iran and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Russia, play in Washington’s stance toward Syrian President Bashar Assad?

Minneapolis Slams Escalation Of War On Afghanistan, Demands “Hands Off Korea”

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By Staff of Fight Back News – Minneapolis. MN – With only 24 hour’s notice, Minneapolis peace groups organized an emergency response protest against the use a massive U.S. bomb in Afghanistan. Over 60 people joined the protest held on Friday, April 14. Several people just walking by or waiting for their bus stopped and joined the protest. People in cars, trucks and buses passing by waved and honked in support of the anti-war message. On Thursday, April 13, it was reported that the Trump administration and the Pentagon unleashed the most powerful U.S. bomb – the 20,000 pound GBU-43, referred to as the ‘mother of all bombs.’ The weapon was used in Afghanistan. Twin Cities anti-war groups saw this as a major escalation of the U.S. wars and consulted quickly to call an emergency protest against this latest U.S. military move. Organizers also raised the alarm about the growing danger of a new U.S. war in Korea. News reports had indicated that the Trump administration had plans for an imminent attack on Korea. The protest was in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis. The neighborhood has many Somali immigrant families.

It’s Not Just Syria. Trump Is Ratcheting Up Wars Across The World

In March, Trump carried out a drone strike every 1.8 days, compared to every 5.4 days under Obama.’ Photograph: Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/AFP/Getty Images

By Trevor Timm for The Guardian – Donald Trump’s missile strikes on Syria have attracted worldwide attention (and disgraceful plaudits) in recent days. But much less airtime is being given to his administration’s risky and increasingly barbaric military escalations on several other fronts across the world. Let’s put aside, for the time being, that the Trump administration openly admits it has no clue what it is going to do in Syria next. Or that key members of Congress and in the administration are clearly eager for “regime change” in Syria with no plan for the aftermath. And the fact that hardly anyone seems to care that Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said over the weekend that Syrian strikes put the US “on the verge of a military clash with Russia”…

Closer To World War III: Russia & Iran Warn Military Response Next Time

The Trump Administration is seeking to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's climate policies. Credit: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Following Friday’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, in retaliation for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the week, the alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a joint statement threatening action in response to “any breach of red lines from whoever it is”. “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,” the group’s joint command centre said. Syria missile strike: Trump calls on ‘all civilised nations to end the slaughter and bloodshed’ US President Donald Trump said the strike on al Shayrat airbase, near Homs, with some 60 Tomahawk missiles was “representing the world”.

Is US Policy To Prolonge The Syrian War?

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By Sam Husseini for Counter Punch – Many are claiming that Trump is being inconsistent in illegally attacking the Syrian regime with cruise missiles. After all, he had been saying the U.S. should focus on defeating ISIS, and now he seems to be going after Assad. But contradictions from Trump are a dime a dozen. A closer examination shows a deeper pattern of remarkable consistency in U.S. policy toward Syria that is far more critical than the perennial contradictions of politicians like Trump. To summarize U.S. actions and non-actions in terms of direct publicly announced U.S. air attacks targeting the Syrian regime: In 2013, when Assad was losing the war, Obama refrained from strikes that may well have ended his regime.

Wars Expand As Trump Seems To Give Pentagon Decision Making Power

In this March 28, 2017, photo, a Somali soldier provides security as newly displaced Somalis gather at a camp in the Garasbaley area on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. Drought-stricken families facing a hunger crisis are on the move, trying to reach international aid agencies that cannot distribute food in areas under the control of al-Shabab, Somalia's homegrown Islamic extremist rebels who are affiliated to al-Qaida. (Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP)

By Lolita C. Baldor for Associated Press – Week by week, country by country, the Pentagon is quietly seizing more control over warfighting decisions, sending hundreds more troops to war with little public debate and seeking greater authority to battle extremists across the Middle East and Africa. This week it was Somalia, where President Donald Trump gave the U.S. military more authority to conduct offensive airstrikes on al-Qaida-linked militants. Next week it could be Yemen, where military leaders want to provide more help for the United Arab Emirates’ battle against Iranian-backed rebels. Key decisions on Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are looming, from ending troop number limits to loosening rules that guide commanders in the field. The changes in Trump’s first two months in office underscore his willingness to let the Pentagon manage its own day-to-day combat. Under the Obama administration, military leaders chafed about micromanagement that included commanders needing approval for routine tactical decisions about targets and personnel moves.

MLK Beyond Vietnam Speech Relevant To War & Justice Today

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By Staff of United for Peace & Justice – 50 years ago, on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church, in NYC, Martin Luther King delivered his powerful and most controversial speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”. No longer willing to keep silent about the immorality of the Vietnam War, knowing the intense criticism he would receive for speaking out, he nevertheless was compelled to speak, “I am here tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice”. King spoke against war and its crippling effects on social progress. He denounced the death and destruction in Vietnam and the waste of billions on an immoral war. All this at the expense of the poor and those serving in the military.