Thursday, December 15, 2005

Indymedia, the war at home

Nashville, TN--Veterans and local members of the grassroots organization Political Action, gathered Wednesday to urge Representative Jim Cooper and others in Congress to support an Iraq exit strategy with a timeline that brings the troops home by the end of 2006. Several constituents gathered at Tennessee Congressman Cooper's Nashville office with an "Out in '06" petition while MoveOn members did the same in front of other congressional offices across Tennessee and across the country.
The campaign comes as political parties in Iraq, some Republicans and many Democrats in Congress support an exit strategy with a timeline. Conservative Democratic Congressman John Murtha (HJ Res 73), a decorated Vietnam War veteran and long time supporter of the war, and Republican Representative Walter Jones (HJR 55) of North Carolina whose district includes Camp Lejeune, a major marine base, have both introduced proposals for an exit from Iraq."It is important for Representative Cooper to take a stand against Bush's failed 'stay the course' policy in Iraq," said Phillip Vest, MoveOn member from Nashville. "That's why more than 897 constituents signed a petition to urge him to support an exit strategy with a timeline that brings our troops home by the end of 2006," Phillip Vest concluded.

The above, sent in by Richard, is from Chris Lugo's "Cooper Urged to Support Iraq Exit Strategy" (Tennessee Independent Medica Center). In this indymedia roundup, we focus on the domestic (United States) reactions to the continued occupation of Iraq. In case you've missed it, a weak wave of Operation Happy Talk is rolling through the mainstream media yet again. It's weak because even they know they've been burned everytime in the past. However, it is still present. Hopefully, there's something here that will make you think or feel inspired.

There has been positive feedback regarding everyone attempting to find at least one more person to address the issue of the war with. In this community, we're not staying silent but we need to carry it beyond this community. Make your voice heard. Constituents are making sure Cooper hears them. In Maine, they're making sure their senators hear them. We learn of that in Claire's highlight, Sara Donnelly's "A Somber Occupation" (Portland Phoenix):

Last December, 13 anti-war activists gathered in Senator Susan Collins's office in Portland. They read the names of the American soldiers who had died to date in the Iraq War, as well as an equal number of Iraqi civilians who died. They occupied Collins's office for roughly four hours and, before they left, asked the senator to hold a "town meeting" to discuss the war with her constituents.
On February 4, 17 Maine peace activists gathered in the Portland offices of Senator Olympia Snowe. Again, they read the names of the American soldiers who had died in the Iraq War and an equal number of Iraqi names -- over 2000 total by that date. This time, after someone read the name of each war-dead, they marked an X, in red or black marker, on a giant sheet of cloth to demonstrate the enormity of the loss. They then asked Snowe to meet with her constituents in a town meeting on the war.
On March 18, 35 people gathered in Representative Tom Allen's Portland office. They repeated the February action's format.
The names of the war dead were read, X marks were drawn on a white sheet, and, at the end, the request for a town meeting.
On June 23, 100 people gathered to protest the war in front of Collins's Bangor office.
About a month later, on August 26, another occupation occurred in Collins's Lewiston office. Someone brought a bell, which rang after each name was read.
Then again on October 14, at Snowe's office in Biddeford. The names, the sheet, the bell, the request for a town meeting.
All told, there have been six nearly identical occupations of Maine's congressional delegates' offices (as well as several informal meetings with US Representative Mike Michaud), each lasting between four and six hours, each designed to slowly and somberly disrupt business as usual. It's all part of a statewide, coordinated action called the "Frequent Visit Program," founded a year ago by some of the state's most fervent anti-war activists.

Billys e-mails to note Ted Rall's "We're Looking For A Few Good Refuseniks: Support the troops who won't fight for Bush" (Boise Weekly):

NEW YORK--"Support the Troops, Oppose Their Actions," reads the oxymoronic headline of an April 2005 essay at In a column titled, "Support Our Troops, Not Our President," liberal columnist Richard Reeves worries about Iraq war vets: "They will come home to be called 'torturers,' as Vietnam vets were called 'baby killers.'" To avoid repeating the supposed excesses of the '60s peace movement, today's antiwar groups praise the soldiers fighting the wars they abhor.
"What if they gave a war," a poster of the Vietnam era asked, "and nobody came?" If we are, as Jean-Paul Sartre posited, defined by our actions, most of the blame for the murder of more than 100,000 Iraqis belongs to our top government officials. But Bush's armchair warriors couldn't have invaded Iraq without a compliant and complicit United States military--one that, it should be noted, is all volunteer. These individuals, who enjoy free will, fire the guns and drop the bombs. If personal responsibility is to have any meaning, the men and women of our armed forces have to be held individually accountable for the carnage.
"Supporting our troops while opposing their actions may seem contradictory," argues Joshua Frank in the article. "The duties of U.S. soldiers in Iraq are wrong and many may be committing horrible crimes against humanity. True. But soldiers are mostly not bad people (though, of course, some are)." How is a person who voluntarily commits "horrible crimes against humanity" not a "bad person"?
Even if U.S. forces were not violating the rules of war in Iraq--torturing, maiming and murdering POWs, robbing and subjecting civilians to collective punishment, dropping white phosphorus and depleted uranium bombs on civilian targets--the war itself, based on false pretenses and opposed by the United Nations, would remain a gross violation of American and international law.
Soldiers, they say, must obey orders. However, "just following orders" wasn't an acceptable excuse at the Nuremberg trials, where the charges included waging a war of aggression. Do our government's poorly paid contract killers deserve our "support" for blindly following orders?

Finally, we turn to the issue Rall touched on (what if no one showed up for war) via Tori's highlight, Paul Fleisher, Emily Kimball and James' "Workshop on Alternatives to Military Service Planned - assistance needed" (Richmond IMC):

DO YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF RECRUITMENT BY THE US ARMED FORCES AT LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS? Please post what you know as a comment to this annoucement and help Richmond Friends Meeting and the Richmond Peace Education Center organize its two day workshop on alternatives to military service for young people. The workshops will counter military recruiters' efforts to fill their quotas, especially through local high schools.The final planning meeting for this event will be at Richmond Friends Meeting's regular Social Concerns meeting on Tuesday January 10th. Information shared on this site between then and now will be helpful.To learn how you can volunteer, please contact us.
The program will be held at the Friends Meeting, 4500 Kensington Ave. on Friday, January 27th from 7-9 p.m. and continue Saturday, January 28th from 9:30 a.m. to -12:30 p.m. At the evening presentation on Friday the 27th participants will learn about different programs being carried out on counter recruitment and alternatives to the military. The Friday evening session will offer an opportunity to design a plan of action for the Richmond community. The Saturday session will help participants refine their skills for engaging with people with differing views through interactive, participatory exercises.

The workshop, Fostering Constructive Conversations, is based on the premise that “You cannot teach a man [woman] anything. You can only help them find it for himself.” (Galileo.)Presenters Scilla and Paul Wahrhaftig of the American Friends Service Committee, Pittsburgh are both trained in mediation, dialogue and listening. This training is already being used extensively in the work on Alternatives to Military Service in Pittsburgh.Families and high school age youth are encouraged to participate in this special event in the Friends’ Peace Lecture series.
For more information, contact:
Emily Kimball etkimball(at)aol.comor the Richmond Peace Education Center at 232-1002, rpec.1 (at)
Presenters biographies:
Scilla Wahrhaftig has a long history of Quaker activism, in England, Zimbabwe and the US. In November 2001 she spent nine months as staff for the Quaker United Nations Office in New York working on the issues arising from 9/11. Scilla also served on the Peace Issues Working Group of Friends World Committee for Consultation that put on a major peace conference in Guilford, North Carolina in January 2003, "Friends Peace Witness in a Time of Crises".
She is also on the planning committee for the Quaker conference on Torture to be held in Guilford in June 2006.
She is presently working as staff person for the American Friends Service Committee Pennsylvania Office. The focus of the work is peace building through dialogue and listening. She has been trained in conflict resolution, mediation and dialogue. Together with her husband Paul has developed a training, Fostering Constructive Conversations, for refining skills for communicating with people with differing views from your own.
Paul Wahrhaftig has been active in organized conflict resolution since its modern beginnings in the early 1970s, both as a practi-tioner and organizer/networker. Beginning in 1972 he helped popularize the new concept of community dispute resolution programs. He has served on many task forces and planning groups that have helped chart the field. As President of the Conflict Resolution Center International, (1981-2003) Paul actively chronicled and highlighted the major issues and developments in conflict resolution around the globe in the publication he edited, Conflict Resolution Notes. He co-authored The MOVE Crisis in Philadelphia: Extremist Groups and Conflict Resolution, which has become a standard text. His most recent book is Community Dispute Resolution, Empowerment and Social Justice.
Paul is an active practitioner with over two decades of experience in the practice of mediation, handling family, workplace, community and multiparty conflicts. He has conducted trainings on three continents and has taught conflict resolution at Carnegie Mellon University. He drew on his roots in conflict resolution to design, along with his wife Scilla Wahrhaftig, Fostering Public Conversations training. FCC helps people turn potential conflict situations into constructive dialogue.
In 1999 he was honored with the Margaret Herrman Award by the National Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution for his lifetime contributions to the conflict resolution field.

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