Many veterans who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War are furious that the Bush administration is hell bent on destroying the hard work of peacemaking in its bullheaded stumbling to war in Iraq. About to take their message to the streets of Washington, read what they are saying.
By Jan Barry
As our troops mass on the borders of Iraq, the United States government should listen to Americans who have been to war and learned hard lessons from military campaigns. Hundreds of outraged veterans have sent comments to the web site of Veterans Against Iraq War (www.vaiw.org
) that is circulating a statement to Congress and President Bush signed by veterans and military family members. This statement is to be delivered in a march on Washington this coming Sunday, March 23.
Consider what just a sampling of these veterans have to say:
"As a World War II veteran that served in the South Pacific area, I believe we can disarm Saddam Hussein without invading Iraq and causing unnecessary suffering of our young brave sons and daughters and the Iraqi people, simply by continuing the inspection process that is working so far. Our young men and women are at this moment, still struggling to complete the clearing of the El Qaeda & Taliban in Afghanistan. Current evidence shows, the Taliban & El Qaeda forces are regrouping along the borders of Afghanistan & Pakistan. I feel we are falling into the trap of Osama Bin laden, who wants to use our sons and daughters to do his dirty work in Iraq, just as he used our own airliners as missiles against us." Thomas L. Vassilaros, US Army 1942-46
"Our congressional representatives betrayed us. You can sign away your freedom with the stroke of a pen, but it costs blood to buy it back. I hope those responsibility-shirking "representatives" of ours never get a decent night's sleep till the day they die. I'm not angry, I'm enraged." Arthur M. Howard, US Army Air Force 13th Air Force 1944-47
"I served with the 192nd Assault Helicopter Co. in Viet Nam from January 1968 until September 1968. I cannot recall feeling such hopelessness as I do now, watching this politically motivated war unfold. I believe that the administration's actions are both ill-advised and shameful. It breaks my heart to know that there will be so many innocent casualties. America seems to have lost its sense of morality and justice." James E. Eason, US Army 1966-68
"I'm a firm believer in the judicious use of military force when the welfare and safety of the United States is in peril. However, President Bush's misguided policy on Iraq is unquestionably a big mistake. His insidious sword rattling and bellicose rhetoric is not gaining the United States any political, economic nor strategic advantage. As a Republican and a Texan, I am appalled by his lack of judgment and vision." Larry G. Hammer, US Air Force 23 years
"I served with the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve since I enlisted while still a senior in high school 27 years ago. I have trained all of my adult life to defend my country, and will gladly do so if called upon today. However, the actions of our leadership compel me to tender my retirement from uniformed service eight years prior to my mandatory removal date. I choose not to participate in a unilateral war of first strike aggression against an 'enemy' which poses no threat to the people of the United States of America. Some may call me naive, or worse, yet I equate the President's actions with 'blitzkrieg.'" Mitchell E. Green, US Army, Army National Guard, US Army Reserves 1976-2003
"For the first time in my life, I attended two anti-War protests! I was in Vietnam during the Vietnam war protest. I felt compelled to protest this war because it is something that only George W. Bush and his friends want. When the world tells you you're wrong, you better listen!" Michael Arrington, US Army 20 years
"I am an 'arch-conservative' and opposed to what the UN has become. Nonetheless the UN was created for no other reason than to avoid war, not to start one. Under no circumstances should the US become an aggressor nation. The military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned so long ago is alive and well and out of control." Jack Van Dien, US Army 2 years
"I am a 23 year veteran of two branches of service, U.S. Army Reserves and U.S. Navy (Active Duty). Each day I served and wore my uniform with great pride. As a retiree I am obligated to stand up for what is morally and ethically right. I must now stand in support of the thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who must stand by and obey orders while disagreeing with our posture of war no matter the cost. Yet as I do so I must stand in opposition to an unjustified war on a nation that is of little threat to our great nation. Yes, Mr. Saddam Hussein is wrong, but that does not mean that we are right to wage a war on the thousands of innocent people. Nor is it right to subject our own troops and those of our allies to the dangers of war. To use an old adage, "Two wrongs do not make a right." To the Senators, Representatives, and to our President, while you must stand in support of our nation - America, remember to stand in support of peace and a peaceful resolution to this conflict. Do not subject our nation to an unjustified war." James R. McCollum, US Navy and US Army Reserves 23 years
"Some of my friends think that we are not supporting the men and women in uniform if we protest the war. I tell them we are supporting them in the only way that shows we value their lives more than we want to stroke the ego of one spoiled rich kid." N. Dale Thompson, US Navy 1957-79
"I served as a Capt. in the USMC during Desert Storm with the 1st Mar. Div. I can't believe that our foreign policy has returned us to the point where we are massing our armed forces to invade Iraq. I'm a voting man -- and will vote. I'm also a praying man -- and will pray. Semper Fi." David W. Brown, US Marine Corps
"I am not only a combat vet, but also lived in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The attack on Saddam Hussain doesn't address the problems of terrorism at all, but rather plays into the objectives of organizations like Al Quaeda. With the investment of a couple dozen martyrs and a couple hundred dollars worth of material, Al Queda has gotten:
1. The USA to take down one of its worst enemies,
2. Saudi Arabia to announce it wants US troops out after the war,
3. Many Moslems to believe the USA is anti Islamic
4. The US economy in a tail spin.
"I wish our guys were that smart and that economical. Nobody is asking the right questions: What are Organizations like Al Queda trying to achieve? Why do they have so much popular support from people who do not share their objectives? What does any of this have to do with the USA?" Gene Fitzpatrick, US Army 4th Division, 1/22 Infantry, 1 year in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
"Containment brought down the USSR, a vast empire of a super-power. It took time, and real leadership in both political parties, and wisdom, and patience, but it is a fact: containment brought down the USSR. Containment can bring down a tin-horn dictator in Iraq." Tim Lally, US Army 101st Airborne Division 1962-65
"America needs to return to our founding fathers' vision of a nation at peace with the world. Look to George Washington's farewell address. Ours is a limited-government democracy. Reject President Bush's imperialist ambitions and foreign adventurism. Instead, concentrate on the domestic economy and the well-being of the heartland." A.E. Molina, US Army 1969-71
In a Statement on the Veterans Against Iraq War website signed by over 2,000 military veterans, this is the message they will take to Congress and President Bush, summarizing years of military experience:
"Although we detest the dictatorial policies of Saddam Hussein and sympathize with the tragic plight of the Iraqi people, we oppose unilateral and pre-emptive U.S. military intervention on the grounds that it would establish a dangerous precedent in the conduct of international affairs, that it could easily lead to an increase of violent regional instability and the spread of a much wider conflict, that it would place needless and unacceptable financial burdens on the American people, that it would further divert us from addressing critical domestic priorities, and that it would distract us from our stated goal of destroying international terrorists and their lairs.
"Furthermore, Veterans Against The Iraq War does not believe the American military can or should be used as the police-force of the world by any Administration, Republican or Democrat. Consequently, we believe that the lives and well-being of our nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines should not be squandered or sacrificed for causes other than the direct defense of our people and our nation."
The message of military veterans, those Americans who have hunkered in foxholes and bleed on battlefields, is that war is the last option and we have not reached this last option with Iraq. Whether conservative or liberal, their experience says slow down, take a step back, and find another way, one that makes use of the best that America has to offer, and avoids the calamities of war.
Veterans and Family Members: Go to VAIW's Homepage, there is a Homepage button at the top of this page on the right. When on the Homepage, scroll down past the Operation Dire Distress announcemnts to the Statement of Purpose. Read the Statement, if you agree with its content, then Endorse VAIW by filling out the form just below the Statement. There is one form for Veterans and one for Family Members.
Note: Jan Barry, author of A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Campaigns, served 10 months in Vietnam with the US Army and the rest of what he hopes is a long life working for peaceful solutions to international disputes.
Posted Sunday, March 16, 2003
Current number of Endorsers: 2,662
VAIW: Veterans Against The Iraq War
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