Friday, August 13, 2010

Veterans for Peace chapter calls Iraq War 'old news'

This week on Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan. Click here for the interview at Antiwar Radio and here for it at Peace of the Action. Excerpt:

Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know I've learned in the last five years, I think I've learned -- I couldn't even measure how much I've learned. But I know in the last five years I've learned more than the previous years I lived put together. And I've learned, Republicans will be Republicans. And you know they're very unapologetically pro-war. Not every Republican but, you know, most Republicans are unapologetically pro-war. The faction that I learned the most about, I think, would be the anti-war movement or the so-called anti-war movement. The people who are supposedly on the left, the progressives. And, you know, it's just very disheartening that all of my -- my colleagues -- most of my colleagues, or friends or associates that I worked with before Obama was elected have basically fallen off the face of the earth or they support now what Obama is doing or they're not as energetically against it as they were when Bush was president. So the major thing that I've learned, I think, is that we have one party system in this country and it's the War Party. And it just depends on if you have an "R" or "D" after your name if you support what's happening or if you're against what's happening. So that's what I've learned. There's no noble cause for war, there never has been, there never will be. And, you know, we just have to stop being such hypocrites and such supporters of empire depending upon who is president. It doesn't matter who's president. The empire is what has the momentum, not political parties.

Scott Horton: Well, you know, I think one of the things about your story that really captured everybody's attention is the specificity of your complaint -- particularly that your son was sent off to die for -- in a war that should have never been fought. That he was betrayed. And I read -- you know me, Cindy, I'm, into this. I read about it all day. And yet still the casualty reports come in -- 'A couple of soldiers died in Iraq today.' That's still going on. Summer of 2010 here if you're listening to this on MP3 format years from now, doing your thesis on it. Soldiers still dying. Soldiers still dying obviously more than ever in Afghanistan as the war escalates there. And often times, even for those of us who deliberately try to not think this way or whatever, you know, 'a number's a number. Some soldiers died, some soldiers died.' But, you know, I've been reading -- you just get desensitized to it. It's not a scene that you see. It's words and a headline, you know what I mean?

Cindy Sheehan: Right.

Scott Horton: That's what you get to picture -- is the shape of the news article, not the event that actually happened. So I've been reading The Good Soldiers by David Finkel which is about a group of guys, a battalion, that were part of the surge in 2007 in Baghdad. And they were basically -- they were part of the ground crew from that Collateral Murder video actually. But anyway, it's the story of 'Hey these are real people driving around in aluminum Humvees getting their bodies torn apart by EFPs and IEDs on the side of the road, getting their brains sniped out by some guy hiding behind a wall. These are -- you know, there names are Gary and Dave and Bob and DeShawn and, you know, Juan and whoever, they're our friends and our neighbors. Their names are Casey.

Cindy Sheehan: Right.

Scott Horton: And they're out there dying for nothing. Real people, individuals, crippled for life, brains scrambled by shock waves and by the things that they've seen. And that's if they're lucky! That's if they come home with their arms and legs and life intact. This is not playing around. It's not some movie scene we're talking about here. These are people's sons and brothers and brand new husbands and fathers in a lot of cases as well.

Cindy Sheehan: Right. Right. Well I just got the very first anti-war thing I ever did after Casey was killed was on Mother's Day, exactly four weeks after Casey was killed. And my husband, Casey's Dad, and I drove down to Santa Barbara to go to Arlington West and the Veterans for Peace were putting one cross for every soldier who had been killed on the beach in Santa Barbara. And at that time, there were less than 800 crosses. Now it's up to 4,400. But I just got an e-mail from the founder of Arlington West -- it was his idea, he was the person with the vision and the commitment and the energy to do it. And he said that the Veterans for Peace in that area have decided they're going to stop putting the crosses for the Iraq War dead and they're only going to put the crosses for the Afghan War dead because they said that the Iraq War is now old news. And I just responded, "You know what? It's never going to be old news to me." And one of my goals is to personalize these wars. Like you just said, Casey's not a number. He was a son and a brother and a friend and a Catholic and, you know, he loved World Wrestling entertainment. Sometimes I got worried about him because he loves it so much. And you know, he was -- yeah, just like your neighbor, just like any other person you'd see going down the street. And so I think that's one thing that we've lost, we've lost the personalization. There's no sacrifice. I don't want anybody to have to sacrifice for wars for empire but if the empire is in a war than it should be shared. And it just breaks my heart that even the Veterans for Peace are moving on from it because Obama declared the war over. Even though he really just changed the name. It's not over, he just changed the name.

Scott Horton: Well and in the most transparent way too. Let's not mince words about this or whatever. He said we're going to call the troops that are there something other than "combat troops" so that we can keep combat troops there, alright? Good. At least he's honest about what a liar he is, Cindy.

Cindy Sheehan: Hello, if they're not combat troops then take away their weapons.

That's an excerpt. You'll want to listen to the entire interview if you can stream. (If you can't stream or streaming doesn't help you due to hearing issues, there will be a complete transcript of the interview in Tuesday's Hilda's Mix.)

Meanwhile, Thomas Penny and Chris Peterson (Bloomberg News) report the latest in the questions around the death of David Kelly:

A group of U.K. doctors and lawyers called for a full inquest into the death of David Kelly, the government scientist who was the source of a story saying the official dossier justifying the Iraq war had been "sexed up."
Kelly, a former weapons inspector working for the defense ministry, was found dead in a wood near his home in southern England in 2003 after he was revealed as the origin of a BBC report about the way information about Iraqi arms had been used to make the case for the U.S.-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.
The group, including two former coroners and an intensive care specialist, said in a letter published by the Times of London newspaper today that, based on the evidence currently in the public domain, it was "extremely unlikely" that Kelly had bled to death after slitting his wrist.

At the Guardian, Michael White joins the call for a new inquest. In the US, March Forward!'s Bill Hackwell explores the crisis of military suicides at the Party for Socialism and Liberation's website:

These suicide figures correspond with dramatic increases in military discharges for mental disorders directly related to the wars. In a recent article in USA Today, it was revealed that Army records show a 64 percent increase in discharges due to mental illness from post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury since 2005. "In more than 120 studies done on the issue of completed suicide, 90% of the individuals were suffering from mental illness at the time of their death". (, June 28)

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

The National Lawyers Guild has issued their [PDF format warning] Summer/Fall 2010 publication. You can check out a photo of the new federally trademarked NLG Legal Observer caps with Heidi Boghosian and Joel Kupferman wearing them and Jamie Munro contributes "Lynne Stewart re-sentenced to 10 years in prison" which contains this quote from NLG President David Grespass.

It appears that being a vigorous and conscientious advocate
for one’s clients is becoming ever more dangerous. As
you know, our former president, Peter Erlinder, was held in a
Rwandan jail for the better part of a month because of his
representation of a client before the ICTR. From Puerto Rico
to the Philippines, lawyers who display principle and courage
face dire consequences, including assassination. I know it is
cold comfort, but you have long since joined that
illustrious company. Our colleagues in Pakistan were arrested and
beaten for defending the rule of law but they, in the end,
triumphed. We hope the same will be said of you and we
remain committed to you and to doing all we can to secure
your freedom. Whatever you call upon us to do, we stand

There's much more in the issue but those are two things that stood out. And remember that Heidi co-hosts Law and Disorder with Michal Ratner and Michael Steven Smith -- WBAI airs it on Mondays and other radio stations air it throughout the week.

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